Golden Horseshoe Playoff Preview – by C. Scott Holland
With the 2015/16 season ending, it’s time to look at the first-round matchups in the Golden Horseshoe.
No-one knows exactly what might occur but several series appear pretty clear cut.
The number one seed the Caldeonia Corvairs are on a mission to claim a third straight Sutheralnd Cup. No teasm has ever accomplished that feat since the cup’s inception in 1934. With a roster boasting almost an entire team of former OHL castoffs and the majority of them being 20 years-old gives them an edge. They will face the last place Pelham Panthers whom they demolished in all but their first two meetings of the regular season. Three times they destroyed the Panthers with 15 or more goals and another two times by notching at least 10. The powerhouse Corvairs will crunch the Panthers with a multitude of goals and win in four straight games. The only question hanging in the air is just how ridiculous the scores will be and how rough this series may turn by game two or three.
The St. Catharines Falcons end up being the bridemaids again finishing a respectable second and facing the Welland Canadians. This series could prove interesting because during their regular season encounters the Falcons went 5-0-0-2 against the lower ranked squad. Every contest was close and two ended in low-scoring ties. The Falcons rely heavily on their goaltending and haven’t generated much offense against Welland, so if Welland all of a sudden can score more than their average 1.6 goals vs the Falcons they could provide a huge playoff upset. Doubt that will happen though and St. Catharines should emerge in five games.
The Ancaster Avalanche were on a good roll in September and October but have managed to play just above .500 the rest of the way. They will meet the Thorold Blackhawks. Despite the fact that Ancaster won all three home games, four of the six meetings were decided by one goal and two in double overtime plus one in overtime. Thorold won two of those three OT games and should any contest head to extra time, the Blackhawks may have the advantage. Unless Ancaster suddenly regains its early season magic this series will go six games with Ancaster coming out on top in a tougher first-round battle than they expected.
Of all the first round series in this conference the one which may draw the most watching is between Niagara Falls and Fort Erie. Fort Erie is one of the GOJHL’s hottest teams entering post-season. At this writing they’ve won 8 straight games and have an excellent road record. NFC took four of the 7-game regular season series but the Meteors won two of their three games in Niagara Falls. The Canucks have kept the scores close and actually won three of four in Fort Erie. So there may not actually be a home ice advantage in this series. Fort Erie outscored the Canucks 23-22 proving again just how evenly matched these two are. The big if is whether Fort Erie can maintain their torrid winning pace. Both clubs are going to battle hard in this one and it could go a full seven to declare a winner. The Meteors may provide a huge upset by taking this one.
That’s it for now – lots of first round fireworks ready to go off. Some good playoff action is in store for all fans to see and enjoy.