Final Four Preview – by C. Scott Holland
With the Waterloo Siskins obtaining the wild card spot, the GOJHL’s final four are set.
The three GOJHL conference finals featured some good hockey, especially in the West. The mighty Caledonia Corvairs will face Waterloo in one of the two semi-finals while the Stratford Cullitons will meet the London Nationals.
The Waterloo Siskins have been on a storybook ride and thanks to an exceptional first two rounds managed to have the best winning percentage of the three conference losing teams. But they will have to rediscover the magic which allowed them to knock off the Kitchener Dutchmen if they have any realistic chance of winning against the Caledonia Corvairs. The Corvairs overall experience and offensive power should be more than enough for them to have a shot at a third consecutive Sutherland Cup. Waterloo must avoid penalties at all costs and that will be difficult to do while curtailing Caledonia’s offense. Siskins’ goalie Mitchell Datz will have to match Mark Sinclair save for save and Nate Schnarr and the Siskins will have to score more than three or four gaols a game. Matthew Hore, Corey Pawley, Jake Brown and Mitchell Fitzsimmons are just a few of the offensive players in the Corvairs’ talented lineup which appears almost invincible from top to bottom. Unless a disaster strikes the Corvairs, they will most likely burst the Siskins’ bubble in four, maybe five games tops.
The London Nationals may still be on a bit of a high after eliminating the West’s first-place Leamington Flyers from further competition. The Nationals were not an overpowering team offensively but did get goals when needed especially in overtime. Going head-to-head with the Stratford Cullitons is going to require as much discipline and outstanding goaltending from Connor Hughes as they had against Leamington. The Nats will face a lethal Stratford powerplay which has already seen Hayden Broomhead whisk seven powerplay goals. Stratford’s offense is coming from nearly every player – 11 Cullitons have over 10 points and five of them have over 20 points thus far. Plus goalie Alexander Brooks-Potts has been playing as steady as his London counterpart Connor Hughes. Look for Stratford to emerge victorious in six games.
No matter how one views these two semi-finals, they are sure to be entertaining.