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OHL Eastern Conference Semi-Final Preview

The Eastern Conference Semi-Finals feature the Peterborough Petes, Mississauga Steelheads, Oshawa Generals and Kingston Frontenacs who finished one through four in the East this season.  They’re battling for the opportunity to compete for the Bobby Orr Trophy in next round’s East Final.

Here’s a breakdown of each series:

PETERBOROUGH PETES (1) vs. KINGSTON FRONTENACS (4) – #PBOvsKGN

Two East Division foes go head-to-head as the first place Peterborough Petes take on the fourth seed Kingston Frontenacs in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

The Petes came off their first East Division title since 2006 to sweep the Niagara IceDogs in a first round series that ended a week ago. Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Ang (5-1–6), Carolina Hurricanes pick Steve Lorentz (4-2–6) and 2017 NHL Draft prospect Zach Gallant (0-6–6) each had six points in the series while veteran forward Josh Coyle elevated his game, putting up three goals and an assist including an overtime winner on the road in Game 3.

Peterborough has built toward this playoff run, with GM Mike Oke forming the club’s core largely through the OHL Priority Selection. Matt Spencer (1st round, 2013), Matthew Timms (2nd round, 2014), Ang (1st round, 2014) and goaltender Dylan Wells (2nd round, 2014) are all Petes picks while the club supplemented that talent with mid-season additions in Nikita Korostelev and Chris Paquette.

While the Petes enter the series fresh, the Frontenacs come off a seven game battle that ended Tuesday with Linus Nyman’s overtime winner against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Fronts fell behind 2-0 in both Game 7 and the series as a whole, battling back both times to bounce the Bulldogs. Kingston has responded to a 17-year playoff drought from 1998-2015 with two consecutive years of advancing past the first round.

Kingston is fueled by youth, getting big first round contributions from 2017 NHL Draft prospects Nyman (4-4–8) and Jason Robertson(4-8–12) while rookie Nathan Dunkley (4-3–7) had a coming out party of his own.

Often overlooked, gritty veterans in Ted Nichol (1-4–5), Cody Caron (1-3–4) and faceoff specialist Sam Harding (0-1–1) had a lot to do with Kingston’s first round success and will provide much needed minutes against a deeper Petes depth chart.

The play of Carolina Hurricanes prospect Jeremy Helvig in goal will be crucial to Kingston’s success in this series. The 19-year-old was a workhorse for the Frontenacs this season, suiting up in 59 games before backstopping his club past the first round.

Don’t expect a lot of penalties in this series.

Both Peterborough and Kingston set franchise lows in penalty minutes this past season, with the Frontenacs featuring a league-low 629 and the Petes coming in just a little bit higher at 695.

The last time these two clubs met in the 2014 OHL Playoffs, the Petes pulled off the rare feat of overcoming a 3-0 series deficit as current-day Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored with 7:43 remaining in overtime to push Peterborough into the second round.

This outcome continued the flow of history between the two clubs, a past that hasn’t been kind to Kingston. In their seven past meetings in the postseason, Peterborough as come away victorious every time.

Can an upstart young Frontenacs team reverse that trend? Or will the Petes build off their first round dominance and reach the Conference Final?

Stay tuned to find out.

Season Series:
Peterborough won season series 6-2-0-0
Nov. 3, 2016 – KGN 2 @ PBO 4 (PBO: Ang 3G)
Dec. 16, 2016 – PBO 4 @ KGN 3 OT (PBO: Lorentz GWG, Wells 40 SV)
Dec. 30, 2016 – PBO 4 @ KGN 3 OT (PBO: Timms GWG, Smith 37 SV)
Jan. 3, 2017 – KGN 1 @ PBO 3 (PBO: Wells 37 SV)
Jan. 13, 2017 – PBO 2 @ KGN 6 (KGN: Robertson, Desrocher, Rasanen 1G, 1A)
Jan. 14, 2017 – KGN 4 @ PBO 3 (KGN: Helvig 39 SV)
Feb. 17, 2017 – PBO 4 @ KGN 3 SO (PBO: Smith 36 SV)
Feb. 23, 2017 – KGN 1 @ PBO 3 (PBO: Lorentz 2G)

Playoff History:
This marks the eighth time that Peterborough and Kingston have faced each other in the OHL Playoffs.
– 2014 – PBO def. KGN 4-3 – 1st round / 1997 – PBO def. KGN 4-1 – 1st round / 1996 – PBO def. KGN 4-1 – 1st round / 1993 – PBO def. KGN 4-1 – Leyden Final / 1986 – Peterborough and Belleville defeat Kingston in Round Robin / 1982 – PBO def. KGN 6-2 in points – 1st round / 1979 – PBO def. KGN 9-5 in points – 2nd round / 

Series Schedule:
Game 1, Thurs, Apr 6, at Peterborough – 7:05 pm
Game 2, Sun, Apr 9, at Peterborough – 7:05 pm
Game 3, Tues, Apr 11, at Kingston – 7:00 pm
Game 4, Thurs, Apr 13, at Kingston – 7:00 pm
Game 5, Sat, Apr 15, at Peterborough – 7:05 pm*
Game 6, Mon, Apr 17, at Kingston – 7:00 pm*
Game 7, Tues, Apr 18, at Peterborough – 7:05 pm*
* if necessary

Who will advance to the Eastern Conference Final between Peterborough and Kingston?

Total Votes: 231

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MISSISSAUGA STEELHEADS (2) vs. OSHAWA GENERALS (3) – #MISSvsOSH

After each requiring six games to dispose of their first round opponents, the Central Division champion Mississauga Steelheads and third seed Oshawa Generals go head-to-head for just the second time in OHL history.

Mississauga overcame the strong goaltending of Ottawa’s Leo Lazarev to eliminate the 67’s while Oshawa prevailed over the Sudbury Wolves in a chippy, hard-hitting series.

The Steelheads have been among the Eastern Conference favourites since before the start of the season, boasting a wealth of talent up and down the roster. Injuries slowed Vili Saarijarvi and mid-season acquisition Spencer Watson early in the season before the Trout really hit their stride in the second half, going 21-5-2-4 after January 1st.

There’s been lots to like in Mississauga with Owen Tippett’s 44 goals, Watson’s tremendous finish to the regular season and the emergence of rookie netminder Jacob Ingham in the crease.

New Jersey Devils prospect Michael McLeod propelled the Steelheads into the second round with a five-point (2-3–5) performance in Game 6 on Sunday, the most by a player in all-time franchise history since Tim Brent in 2003.

While Mississauga won the Central Division by a landslide, they did have trouble with the Oshawa Generals, losing all four games in the season series. It should be noted that three of those four games took place before the end of November, but the Generals did play Mississauga tough.

Despite unloading stars Anthony Cirelli and Mitchell Vande Sompel mid-season, the Generals powered their way to a third place finish in the conference and managed to outmuscle Sudbury in a first round matchup.

Overage goaltender Jeremy Brodeur has been a central figure in the team’s success and that was no different in the first round as he posted a 2.17 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.

Offensively, 2017 NHL Draft prospect Jack Studnicka (3-4–7) led the way with seven points while veteran captain and former Mastercard Memorial Cup champion Joe Manchurek (3-3–6) and Latvian winger Renars Krastenbergs (3-2–5) were also front-line contributors.

The Generals prevailed over Sudbury despite their power play going just 3-for-35, a figure that will need to improve if Oshawa hopes to get past Mississauga in this series.

While it can be argued that the Steelheads have the upper hand talent-wise, the goaltending matchup is one that, on paper, weighs in Oshawa’s favour.

The overage Brodeur, who is Oshawa’s franchise leader in shutouts with 11,  matches up against the rookie Ingham who is the first 16-year-old netminder to lead his club into the postseason since Alex Nedeljkovic backstopped the 2013 Plymouth Whalers to the Western Conference Final.

Mississauga begins on home ice Friday night, but with a rare 2-3-2 format in place, the Generals can put themselves in good shape with a win in one of the first two contests.

Season Series:
Oshawa won season series 4-0-0-0
Oct. 30, 2016 – MISS 2 @ OSH 3 OT (OSH: Brodeur 41 SV)
Nov. 11, 2016 – OSH 5 @ MISS 4 (OSH: Henderson 2G)
Nov. 16, 2016 – OSH 2 @ MISS 1 SO (OSH: Keyser 38 SV)
Jan. 22, 2017 – MISS 2 @ OSH 5 (OSH: Brodeur 38 SV)

Playoff History:
This marks the second time that the Oshawa and Mississauga have met in the OHL Playoffs.
– 2014 – OSH def. MISS 4-0 – 1st round

Series Schedule:
Game 1, Fri, Apr 7, at Mississauga – 7:00 pm
Game 2, Sun, Apr 9, at Mississauga – 2:00 pm
Game 3, Tues, Apr 11, at Oshawa – 7:05 pm
Game 4, Thurs, Apr 13, at Oshawa – 7:05 pm
Game 5, Sat, Apr 15, at Oshawa – 2:05 pm*
Game 6, Sun, Apr 16, at Mississauga – 2:00 pm*
Game 7,Tues, Apr 18, at Mississauga – 7:00 pm*
* if necessary

Who will advance to the Eastern Conference Final between Mississauga and Oshawa?

Total Votes: 227

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