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CHL Finals Underway

By Kristopher Bras on May 04, 2017


All three CHL leagues are down to two teams, and the final round is set to begin this week. All three league powerhouses have advanced to the finals, but they’ll have to overcome some hot underdogs to advance to the Memorial Cup. 

Otters battle the Steelheads
When you look at the Steelheads’ regular season, there is a pattern that shares similarities with what they’ve done in the playoffs. They struggled in the beginning, at one point losing nine games in a row. However, great goaltending from Matthew Mancina and cumulative experience gained by youngsters like Owen Tippett helped the team turn its season around. 

To an extent, the same has happened here in the playoffs. Although they lost a few games (okay, not nearly as much as they did earlier this season) to the 67s, they’ve built momentum—defeating the Generals in five, and the Petes in four.

It’s been a magical season for the Steelheads, but it’ll take more than spells—high witchcraft, say—to take down the Otters.

The stacked Otters have a healthy gamut of junior talent, from leading goal scorers (Alex DeBrincat) to an OHL Defenceman of the Year (Darren Raddysh), to say nothing of NHL-ready brothers (Taylor Raddysh).

The Steelheads will need a lot going their way, but they may have an edge in goal, and they’re peaking at the right time—and that counts for a lot at this time of the year. Just look at the Petes; I can’t think of another instance where the Eastern Conference winners were swept out of the playoffs by a team that had the league-worst record through the first three months of the season. 

Sea Dogs to Face Armada
Over in the QMJHL, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada are getting ready to take on the Saint John Sea Dogs, who have been a favourite to win the league ever since Thomas Chabot was returned to the team by the Ottawa Senators in early November. Now, many (including myself) consider him to be the best defenceman outside of the NHL—and he’s proved it during this postseason. Although Jakub Zboril was selected ahead of him in the 2015 NHL draft, it is Chabot who has led this team through the playoffs.

With teammates like Mathieu Joseph, Zboril, Spencer Smallman and Matthew Highmore around, he hasn’t had to shoulder the load alone.

The Armada are led by Alex Barré-Boulet, who has been the best forward in the QMJHL playoffs. His 29 points include 14 goals, and he will get plenty of attention from NHL teams looking to sign an undrafted scorer this summer. 

The Armada also feature NHL prospects Pierre-Luc Dubois and Samuel Montembeault.

Pats Take on Thunderbirds
In Regina, the Pats have made good on their CHL-best regular season, defeating the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-2 to advance to the finals. They’ll take on the white-hot Thunderbirds, who move to the finals after sweeping their first two series. The Rockets gave them a few tough games, but Seattle shut them down—allowing just two goals through the last two games of the series.

Although the Thunderbirds are playing terrific hockey, most expect the Pats to join the Sea Dogs, Otters and host Spitfires in the Memorial Cup final. 

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