Lightning CHL Prospects Begin Playoffs Tonight

Four Lightning CHL prospects are in playoff action starting tonight in the OHL and WHL. A look at the matchups:

Ontario Hockey League – Eastern Conference
3 – Mississauga (43-21-0-4) vs. 6 – Sudbury (29-30-3-6)

Chris Lawrence and the IceDogs had the second best record in the Eastern Conference this year, but will have the No. 3 seed as East Division Champion Belleville automatically gets the No. 2. Mississauga and Sudbury split in 6 games this year, with one of Sudbury’s 3 wins coming in a shootout. Lawrence led all IceDogs in scoring against the Wolves this year with 4-3-7 in the 6 games. The series begins tonight in Mississauga. Lawrence and IceDogs did not make the playoffs last season.

Ontario Hockey League – Western Conference
1 – London (50-14-1-3) vs. 8 – Owen Sound (31-30-3-4)

This is a rematch of last year’s hard fought second round battle between the Knights and Marek Bartanus’ Owen Sound Attack. Owen Sound held a 2 games to 1 lead on the heavily favored Knights last year before losing the series in 6 games with Game 5 going into overtime. London ended up losing to Jordan Staal and Peterborough in the OHL Finals. Bartanus did well in last year’s postseason (2-4-6, +2, 8 PIM in 10 games), leading to predictions of a breakout 2006-2007 season that never materialized. London won the 2006-2007 regular season series with Owen Sound 4-2, with 2 of those wins coming in a shootout. Bartanus was minus-4 with an assist vs. the Knights this year. The series starts tonight in London.

Western Hockey League – Kal Tire Western Conference
U.S.-1 Everett (54-15-1-2) vs. U.S.-4 Spokane (36-28-4-4)

Because of the intra-divisional playoff format in the WHL, the league’s top seed, Everett, is actually playing the conference’s 6-seed. Spokane finished fourth in the U.S. Division and faces Dane Crowley and the Silvertips in the first round, beginning tonight. The Tips have the league’s top home record at 31-4-0-1, as well as the best road record, and should be heavily favored if not for the fact they split their season series with the Chiefs 4-4. Crowley had one assist and a plus-3 rating in 4 games against Spokane this year. Crowley, who was brought in by Everett at the deadline as a “final piece” to their blueline, was playing for the Swift Current Broncos in last year’s playoffs. He registered 2 assists, a minus-5 rating, and 23 PIM as the Broncos were swept by the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Tigers went 8-0 to start the 2006 playoffs before being beaten by Blair Jones and Moose Jaw in 5 games.

Western Hockey League – Kal Tire Western Conference
B.C.-2 Kamloops (40-26-4-2) vs. B.C.-3 Prince George (31-30-3-5)

In a traditional format, this would be a matchup between the 5 and 7 seeds – an oddity for the first round. Be that as it may, the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars will begin their opening round series tonight in Kamloops. The Blazers were 5-4-1-0 against Vladimir Mihalik this season, so the match-up will be close. The Cougars have underachieved all season as the club boasts 9 NHL draft picks, but they’ve played well the second half of the season. Mihalik had 3 assists and a plus-1 rating in 6 games vs. Kamloops this year. This is the first playoff meeting for these clubs since the 1997-98 season when Eric Brewer and the Cougars beat Robyn Regehr and the Blazers 4 games to 3 in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. Mihalik played for Red Deer this time last year and the Rebels did not make the playoffs so tonight’s game will be Mihalik’s first playoff contest.