Huron-Perth over Kitchener 4-2 (Sept. 20)
Kitchener over Huron-Perth 6-0 (Nov. 18)
Kitchener over Huron-Perth 7-1 (Dec. 2)
It’s a battle of teams separated by just 30 minutes and this one could be a difficult one to predict, should everything go as planned.
The struggle for home ice advantage in the first round came down to the final day as Kitchener edged out Huron-Perth by just two points in the standings to grab that extra home game in the series. With these two teams going at it, it’s quite clear that both have been going in opposite directions for some time now.
Kitchener has been on a roll for the past month or two, rocketing up the standings when they were sitting in the bottom third at one point this season. The Lakers came roaring out of the gate to nab first place, but injuries and other factors led to a bit of a skid and has seen them fall to 5th spot.
Kitchener won the season series between the two teams with two blowout wins in November and December while the Lakers grabbed a win in the opener way back in just the second weekend of the season. The difference between those games was that the Lakers were healthy for the first game, not so much in games two and three.
Their 2nd meeting, a 6-0 Kitchener win in November saw the Lakers play without forward Brady Hinz. In their final meeting in December, Kitchener won once again by a score of 7-1 with Huron-Perth missing Hinz and fellow winger Owen Gilhula. Heading into this series, it would appear that the Lakers will have Hinz, but once again will be missing Gilhula.
Gilhula suffered a collarbone injury in the final week of the season, his second such injury this year. He was seen in Waterloo Sunday in a sling, which leads me to believe the chances of him playing are slim. Should he suit up, it gives the Lakers a powerful three headed monster on offense with Hinz and Kaleb Pearson.
There are a couple of aspects Huron-Perth will need to focus on to ensure success in this series. Firstly, they need to limit the shots of Kitchener. In their three games this season, Kitchener outshot Huron-Perth by an average of 42-19. Giving up that many shots while not recording a whole lot doesn’t give much chance for success. That leads in the second part the Lakers will need to focus on and that is goaltending. Tyler Parr struggled in both his starts against Kitchener even so far as to being pulled in their last game.
For Kitchener, they will need to continue on what they have done in the past two games against the Lakers. Pile on the shots and play tight defense. Forwards Ben Demoe and Eric Uba had a lot of success against the Lakers this season with Demoe tallying eight points in the three games.
The Jr. Rangers, much like the Lakers, will also need to have sharp goaltending. Rhett Kimmel started all three of the matchups this season so second goalie Jackson Dewar hasn’t seen any action against Huron-Perth. Kitchener will need to Dewar to play strong between the pipes if they want to wrap up this series quickly.
When it comes down to making a pick, it’s really hard to say without knowing the extent of Gilhula’s injury. Should he be out, which is where I’m leaning at this point, I will have to go with Kitchener. Without Gilhula, Kitchener will be able to focus their defensive efforts on Hinz and Pearson. Should Gilhula be healthy and able to play, that makes this a tight series between two dead even teams.
I’ll take Kitchener in four games to defeat the Lakers and move on to the semi-finals once again this season.
Alliance Scout Players to Watch:
Kitchener – Sean Kawalec
Huron-Perth – Malcolm McLeod