Two of the most storied franchises in OHL history will be fighting for the chance to represent the OHL in the Memorial Cup. Here’s how the two teams match up:
Offense: These two clubs finished 1 and 2 in scoring in the regular season but Ottawa scored 43 more goals then Kitchener. Ottawa’s Corey Locke and Matt Foy were two of only three players to score 60 goals in the regular season. Together with Scott Sheppard, that trio is easily the best line in the OHL. The Rangers boast a dynamic duo of their own of Gregory Campbell and Derek Roy. The two have combined for more then 2.5 points per game in the playoffs. Kitchener also possesses a solid second line of Nathan O’ Nabigon, Michael Richards, and Peter Kanko.
Defense: The 67’s were 8th in the OHL in goals against average in the regular season while the Rangers were a solid second. The 67’s top 3 are as flashy as they come; Karl Sloboda, and Brendan Bell are the top 2 scorers among blue liners in the playoffs. Russ Moyer and Adam Smyth round out the top 4. Kitchener has a top 4 that is just as solid featuring Phoenix Coyotes draft pick Marcus Smith, overager George Halkidis (5th in playoff scoring among defenseman and the playoff leader in the +/- department), André Benoit (highest scoring defenseman in the OHL during the regular season) and NHL first round draft pick Steve Eminger.
Goaltending: This season has been a roller coaster ride for Czech import Lukas Mensator. Starting the year as the alternate with John Ceci, the 67’s put their faith in Mensator and dealt Ceci to Owen Sound. While 67’s fans had mixed feelings about Mensator as the go-to guy, his big frame gives the opposition little to shoot at. The playoffs have been just as up and down for Mensator, having been pulled twice but also posting two shutouts. The deciding factor in the series could very well be which Mensator will show up. Overage southpaw Scott Dickie has been solid for Kitchener, playing all but 3 minutes of the playoffs (all in the last minute of games), leading the league in goals against average (2.01) and save percentage (.944) and posting two shutouts. Dickie has been extremely stellar when he’s needed; he has yet to give up a goal in the playoffs while his team is losing which has ended up leading to a 5-4 record in games in which the Rangers have been losing at any point in the game.
Coaching: This is the most intriguing matchup of all. Ottawa bench boss Brian Kilrea is the Scotty Bowman of the CHL and won his 1000th career OHL game earlier this season. Kilrea’s intimidation and motivating tactics are second to none. Leading the Rangers bench is two time OHL coach of the year and former CHL coach of the year Peter DeBoer. DeBoer is widely viewed as the best young coach in the CHL and is rumoured to be offered positions in the AHL for next year. Unlike DeBoer, Kilrea has won it all before.
The two teams with the most points in the regular season?
Ottawa and Kitchener.
The two teams with the highest attendance in the OHL?
Ottawa and Kitchener.
Any time you put the two teams with the loudest fans and most points in the same arenas for a playoff series, you know you’re in for a blast. I’ll take the Rangers in seven due to goaltending.