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Friday, May 13, 2011

CHL Playoffs update : OHL, QMJHL, WHL championship series

(Thanks to Blogger's crash yesterday, having to re-post this. Luckily, I backed up this post and the one on Bobby Carpenter when they reappeared briefly last night or I would be SOL)

It's May and that means the CHL playoffs are winding down, with the Memorial Cup still ahead this month.

B2011DW checks in with a post to update what is going on in the OHL, QMJHL and WHL championship series.

OHL: Mississauga 3, Owen Sound 3

The Memorial Cup host city Mississauga St. Michaels Majors were the OHL favorites and although they lost a 2-0 series lead, the blew the doors off the Attack in Game 5, chasing goalie Michael Zador in the first 10 minutes and then ripping the not-100 percent Scott Stajcer after he came into the game in relief.

The game ended in ugly fashion, with Majors coach Dave Cameron drawing a $2,500 fine for his postgame comments.

With the Majors up 3-2 and riled up, tonight's tilt in Owen Sound will be a barn burner. And even with home ice, Owen Sound is going to have a tough time countering the emotion and fire we expect Missy to bring with them. As you will read below, the Attack prevailed in Game 6, setting up a Game 7 showdown that could be the defining match in the entire CHL postseason will be back in Mississauga.

EDIT: 2011-eligible Jordan Binnington came into the Owen Sound nets for Game 6 and got the job done, leading his team to 3-2 lead on the strength of 41 saves. Binnington had not played since late March when he was shaky against the London Knights in the opening round of the OHL playoffs. The Attack replaced him with Zador, who closed out London and then went with the Zador-Stajcer combo until last night.

QMJHL: Saint John 3, Gatineau 1

The Sea Dogs ragdolled everyone on their way to the QMJHL championship series, and while the Gatineau Olympiques have given them a lot to handle (thanks primarily to the goaltending of Devils prospect Max Clermont) the 'Dogs are just too deep, talented for Gatineau.

Last night, it was Ryan Tesink, a 2011-eligible who is skilled, but has a very light frame and has had trouble seeing ice time for the stacked Saint John club, who scored in double overtime to give his team a commanding lead in the series.

One player for Gatineau who has emerged in the postseason is center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Although very small at 5-9, 165, and not a great skater, he's been highly productive, scoring 32 goals and 79 points this season, and then adding 12 goals and 27 points in 22 playoff games. His hockey sense is off the charts and he has tremendous hands. Think of him as a smaller version of David Krejci, who also played his junior hockey in Gatineau. Pageau won't be an early pick in 2011, but given how much offense he's brought as a late-92 in his second major junior season, we think he's worth a late-round flyer.

We got word that Saint John scoring ace Zack Phillips left the game with a shoulder injury and are not sure of his status. Losing him would be a big blow. Jonathan Huberdeau scored and continues his blistering postseason pace with 15 goals and 28 points in 17 games.

WHL: Kootenay 3, Portland 1

Matt Fraser scored at 13:08 of overtime in Game 4 to give the Ice a win after blowing a late two-goal lead in regulation. 2011 prospect Ty Rattie scored to tie the game with just 17 seconds left. B2011DW includes Rattie as a favorite- he may not have size and blinding speed, but he's creative, dynamic in short areas and has a knack for scoring huge, clutch goals. Rattie is not as highly regarded as teammate Sven Bartschi, who is another 2011 prospect enjoying a strong playoff run, but we feel has the chance to be every bit as successful as the bigger name Swiss winger.

Kootenay has gotten tremendous goaltending from Nathan Lieuwen all spring- he's a no-brainer for being drafted in his third and final year next month. You just know NHL teams are kicking themselves for not having signed him when they could after being passed over in 2009 and 2010 over concussion issues. He's huge, athletic and proving to be a clutch stopper.

The series moves back to Portland for Game 5 Friday night.

We know that Mississauga and Owen Sound already have two of the four seats at the table for the Memorial Cup. It sure looks like the other two places will be seized by Saint John and Kootenay. Their series aren't over yet, and this is the playoffs- anything can happen- but they are firmly in control of their destinies right now.

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