AJHL Division Finals Preview

By pbadmin

SERIES ‘G’ Olds Grizzlys (28-30-4) vs Calgary Canucks (50-8-4)
Season series (Canucks won 6-2): Canucks 6 at Grizzlys 4; Grizzlys 3 at Canucks 8; Grizzlys 2 at Canucks 11; Olds 6 at Canucks 3; Grizzlys 3 at Canucks 1; Canucks 4 at Grizzlys 3; Grizzlys 4 at Canucks 8; Canucks 9 at Grizzlys 4
Olds’ Last Round (Olds won 4-2): Olds 7 at Royals 6; Royals 7 at Olds 8 (OT); Olds 3 at Royals 7; Royals 6 at Olds 5 (OT); Olds 4 at Royals 3; Royals 2 at Olds 6

Canucks’ Last Round (Canucks won 4-0): Camrose 0 at Canucks 5; Canucks 4 at Camrose 3; Camrose 1 at Canucks 3; Canucks 5 at Camrose 1

Olds players to watch: F Dana Lattery had 69 points and 224 PIM in 48 games, F Ryan Melbourne and F Joel MacAuley were 2-3 in team scoring but only combined for 12 PIM in 123 games. However, although Lattery has been a premiere performer in the playoffs thus far – leading the league with 13 points – Melbourne and MacAuley have been relatively quiet with nine and six points respectively. Two players who have done very well this post-season are Colen Pappas (10 points) and Greg Davis (7 goals).

Canucks players to watch: AJHL leading scorer and possible 1999 draftee Dany Heatley (126 points) had a quiet first round with seven points in four games in the first round, but that was still good enough to lead the team and his club to a relatively easy first round victory. 100-point man Moe Halat only had four points last round while Ryan Manitowich (87 pts) had three. However, the team doesn’t need to score a whole lot as long as Canucks goaltender Mike Gilhooly is between the pipes. So far, Gilhooly has a 1.55 GAA and .955 save percentage.

PREDICTION: The Grizzlys did account for 25% of all of Calgary’s losses this season, but that was only two losses. Winning two games IN Calgary is impressive for Olds, but losing six others, including four blowouts – not the least of which was an 11-2 loss – is troubling. Canucks in four.

SERIES ‘H’ Lloydminster Blazers (37-23-3) vs St. Albert Saints (43-19-0)
Season series (Series tied 4-4): Blazers 8 at Saints 6; Saints 4 at Blazers 3 (OT); Blazers 3 at Saints 5; Saints 2 at Blazers 6; Blazers 4 at Saints 8; Blazers 0 at Saints 5; Saints 3 at Blazers 5; Saints 1 at Blazers 5
Lloydminster’s Last Round (Blazers won 4-3): Fort Saskatchewan 3 at Blazers 2; Blazers 2 at Fort Saskatchewan 5; Fort Saskatchewan 1 at Blazers 4; Blazers 5 at Fort Saskatchewan 3; Fort Saskatchewan 4 at Blazers 3; Blazers 4 at Fort Saskatchewan 1; Fort Saskatchewan 4 at Blazers 1

St. Albert’s Last Round (Saints won 4-1): Grande Prairie 2 at Saints 4; Grande Prairie 2 at Saints 4; Saints 1 at Grande Prairie 2; Saints 1 at Grande Prairie 0 (OT); Grande Prairie 2 at Saints 4

Lloydminster players to watch: Travis Barnes and Mark Hallam are this club’s dynamic duo, finishing the year with 93 and 92 points respectively (Barnes with 53 goals, Hallam with 73 assists). However, while Hallam has done well with 10 points Barnes has to pick it up this round with only 3 goals against Fort Sask. Still, the key to the Blazers’ great run down the stretch and in the playoffs has been Ray Fraser. He out-duelled the Traders’ Nick Boucher who was also phenomenal last round.

St. Albert players to watch: Scott Kabotoff is getting hot at just the right time. He played four of the five games for the Saints last round and was 4-0 with a 1.46 GAA and a .948 save percentage. There’s no question he is the key to the club at this point in the season. On the offensive side, Pavel Beranek did very well against the Storm last round, leading the club with ten points. Ron Grimard only had one goal, however, and likely has to step up his production against the Blazers. Other keys for the Saints are a more-productive Darren Peebles – who can dominate when on his game – and a healthy Scott Farrell.

PREDICTION: The Blazers have never advanced to the finals before and are going to be very motivated to do so against a St. Albert club they know they can beat. During the regular season, the two teams not only tied the season series 4-4, they also scored the same number of goals against each other – 34. The key for the Saints is going to be to win their home games as they had some troubling winning in Lloydminster this year. The club only won there once this season, and that was in overtime. Also, the last two times the clubs met were in Lloydminster with the Blazers prevailing 5-3 and 5-1. Home ice advantage should be enough for the Saints to win what will be an outstanding series. St. Albert in seven.