Waterloo over Hamilton 6-1 (Oct. 5)
Waterloo and Hamilton tie 2-2 (Dec. 17)
Waterloo over Hamilton 3-2 (Jan. 9)
When you look at the four playdown series, probably the series that featured the closest games throughout the regular season is the one between Waterloo and Hamilton. Despite the early 6-1 loss, all three of their regular season games featured fairly even play with just some swings in momentum playing the difference in Waterloo winning two of the three meetings.
Waterloo is heading into the playdowns with a lot of momentum and confidence after downing top seeded London in the final weekend of the season. While Hamilton fell to Kitchener in their final regular season game, the Huskies have played significantly better over the past few weeks than they did in December. The turning point for Hamilton could be the Marlies tournament, where they were able to secure a spot in the final 16.
The Wolves have gone through the season playing with a stellar combination of offense, defense and goaltending. Nathan Torchia, a consensus top five goalie in this years OHL Draft has been strong in net and Alex Metzger has statistically been a top goalie in the Alliance this year as well. Waterloo also plays with big defenseman and have more than a handful of options up front to put the puck in the net.
Hamilton struggled on the defensive end near the end of December, giving up a significant amount of goals in a few straight games. Since the calendar has turned to 2016, the defensive game has been improved thanks to the likes of Zach Jankovic and the combination of Andrew Barwinski and Carson Owen in goal. The offense has never been a question mark with Hamilton trotting out talented forwards Isaac Taylor and Derek Seguin.
There is one thing that will determine this series and that is whether Hamilton can hold the Wolves offense at bay. The Huskies allowed a league high 113 goal against this season (tied with Cambridge) and that could mean a feeding frenzy for Waterloo. The Wolves have recently been able going with a line of Alex Gritz, Mitch Hoelscher and Spencer Kersten and they have been magic on the ice.
Should they be able to stop Waterloo’s offense, the task then becomes scoring on arguably the best goaltending duo in the Alliance. I’m going to say this one goes four games because of how close their three meetings were this season. Don’t let that 6-1 Waterloo win fool you as the teams were tied going into the 3rd period before Waterloo exploded.
I’ll predict a Waterloo victory in this series as they continue their trek for their 3rd consecutive Alliance championship.
Alliance Scout Players to Watch:
Waterloo Wolves: Chris Playfair
Hamilton Huskies: Matt Giannini
Check out the series preview for Kitchener/Huron-Perth here.