meta

javascript:void(0)
Copyright In the O... The Radio Show 2011. Powered by Blogger.

Playoff Preview: Sarnia Sting (4) vs. Saginaw Spirit (5)


Preview by Brendan Ross


2011-2012 Regular Season Series
Sarnia Sting (4-2-0) vs. Saginaw Spirit (2-4-0) 

Mar 14, 2012: Saginaw 7 @ Sarnia 1
Feb 18, 2012: Sarnia 2 @ Saginaw 6
Nov 19, 2011: Sarnia 6 @ Saginaw 3
Nov 18, 2011: Saginaw 3 @ Sarnia 6
Oct 29, 2011: Sarnia 3 @ Saginaw 2
Oct 14, 2011: Saginaw 2 @ Sarnia 7

The playoff drought in Sarnia has ended as the team enters postseason action for the first time in since the 2008-09 season.  The Sarnia Sting closed out the 2011-12 OHL regular season on a strong note as the team notched a 6-2 win over the West Division champions Plymouth Whalers.  The win marked their 34th of the season and secured fourth place and more importantly home ice advantage in the Western Conference quarter-final playoff match.  Despite missing star forwards Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia was able to win convincingly in a strong team effort to gain momentum heading into playoff action.  Facing off on the other side of the ice will be Sarnia’s West Division rivals’ Saginaw Spirit after finishing the season as one of the OHL’s hottest team passing the Owen Sound Attack in the standings in their final game to clinch fifth place.
As a team that has battled injuries all season long, Sarnia is expected to have their full roster together for the first time this season as Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk return to action in Game one at the RBC Centre in Sarnia.  Both squads feature players with loads of offensive potential that could lead to an exhilarating series putting fans on the edge of the seats. 
Saginaw’s Josh Shalla (Nashville Predators) recently became the Spirit’s franchise leading goal scorer when he netted his 119th career goal for the team.  Shalla joins Florida Panthers’ prospect Vincent Trocheck and Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect Brandon Saad as the offensive leaders for the Spirit and if Sarnia has any chance of defeating Saginaw these three will need to be held in check.  Pittsburgh native Vincent Trocheck led the Saginaw Spirit in scoring this season as he racked up an impressive 29 goals and 85 points placing him in a tie for tenth in league scoring.  However, it was Brandon Saad that led the OHL in points-per-game with 1.65 edging Nail Yakupov’s 1.64.  In addition to Trocheck, Saad and Shalla, look for Saginaw to lean heavily on fifth-year veteran Michael Fine as he has had great success versus the Sting this season tallying five goals and three assists. 
The Sarnia Sting have an overwhelming selection of offensive depth headed by 2012 NHL Draft top prospects Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk.  Given that Yakupov and Galchenyuk have combined to miss ninety-two games this season the Sting will need their star forwards to play a regular shift.  Sarnia were undefeated against Saginaw in regular season play when number ten suited up.  Sarnia’s depth of scoring is one reason the team was able to secure enough wins to gain home ice advantage even with missing over 230 games due to injury.  Guided by veteran leaders Brett Thompson and Ryan Spooner (Boston Bruins), the Sting have received secondary production from first year OHL players Reid Boucher (New Jersey Devils), Ludvig Rensfeldt (Chicago Blackhawks), and Connor Murphy (Phoenix Coyotes).  Sarnia’s leading scorer Charles Sarault (68GP-20G-87P) has been the Sting’s most consistent player and he will certainly be counted on offensively and defensively throughout this series. Sarault was ranked first in OHL assists with 67 this season improving on his 25 from last season and finishing eleven ahead of the next closest player (ironically, Vincent Trocheck of Saginaw).
Despite having a good blend of veteran and first year players, Sarnia lacks playoff experience on their roster.  Goaltender JP Anderson (41 playoff games) and former Spitfire defenseman Craig Duininck (37 playoff games) lead the Sarnia Sting in playoff games while trade acquisitions Tyler J. Brown and Adrian Robertson trail with 31 and 23 playoff games, respectively. Overall, Sarnia begins their 2011-12 OHL post-season run on the lighter side of experienced playoff veterans with only 191 combined playoff games played.  Brett Thompson and Ryan Spooner are hardened OHL veterans but surprisingly they have been limited to just 12 post-season games each in their lengthy major junior careers.  The Sting have eleven players that will be competing in their first playoff series including Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, Craig Hottot, Ludvig Rensfeldt, Reid Boucher, Nick Latta, Justice Dundas, Connor Murphy, Jack Kuzmyk, Anthony DeAngelo and Brandon Hope. 
The outcome of this series may be decided on special teams as both Saginaw and Sarnia excelled in these situations finishing near the top of the OHL ranks.  Greg Gilbert’s Spirit iced the fourth best powerplay in the Ontario Hockey League as the team scored on 21.9% of their attempts.  Across the St.Clair River, Jacques Beaulieu had his troops scoring at an impressive 21.5% of their powerplay attempts ranking just behind the Spirit in fifth place.  Saginaw and Sarnia were among the least penalized teams in the OHL this season spending 994 and 947 minutes, respectively, in the sin bin, ranking them 17th and 19th.  However, the coaching staffs should both be acknowledged for running efficient penalty kill units as Sarnia and Saginaw, once again, were amongst the OHL leaders.  Sarnia ranked fifth in the OHL with an 82.5% success rate while Saginaw killed off 81.7% (8th) of their penalty kills. 

Series Outlook
The Saginaw-Sarnia matchup has all the makings of a long, competitive and entertaining fourth versus firth place series.  Sarnia enters the series sputtering slightly winning just four of their past ten but their opponent, Saginaw, is undefeated in four games boasting a 6-3-0-1 record over their last ten games. 
Sarnia’s success will depend largely on how quickly the team can find chemistry as key players return to the lineup.  In addition, the Sarnia Sting have struggled at times throughout the season defensively and the team will need a strong series from captain Nathan Chiarlitti, Craig Duininck, Adrian Robertson and Connor Murphy on the backend to provide stability. JP Anderson will need to carry the workload in between the pipes if Sarnia plans on making a long playoff run. 
Saginaw will rely heavily on their offensive players and superb powerplay to provide scoring but will also need to shutdown the dynamic Yakupov, Spooner and Galchenyuk if they want to proceed to the second round.  Spirit goaltenders Jake Paterson and Clint Windsor have not played in a single OHL playoff game and their inexperience will be tested by Sarnia as both netminders prepare to showcase their talents for the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Uncertainties surround the Saginaw and Sarnia series.  Saginaw’s scoring depth and rookie goaltending will be tried by an extremely skilled Sarnia roster.  On the other hand, Sarnia’s inconsistency, injuries and defensive lapses have been their weaknesses to date.  Fans could be in for some high-scoring games with plenty of back and forth action as Sarnia looks to give their fans a long-awaited playoff run.

Playoff Series Schedule



SARNIA vs. SAGINAW

Fri.,
March
23
at
Sarnia
7:00


Sat.,
March
24
at
Saginaw
7:11


Mon.,
March
26
at
Sarnia
7:00


Wed.,
March
28
at
Saginaw
7:11


Fri.,
March
30
at
Sarnia
7:00
*

Sat.,
March
31
at
Saginaw
7:11
*

Mon.,
April 
2
at
Sarnia
7:00
*
*if necessary


Sarnia Sting vs. Saginaw Spirit Head-to-Head Scoring Leaders
Sarnia Sting
1.      Reid Boucher 6GP-5G-5A-10P
2.      Charles Sarault 6GP-4G-6A-10P
3.      Nail Yakupov 4GP-4G-6A-10P
4.      Ryan Spooner 4GP-1G-8A-9P
5.      Ludvig Rensfeldt 6GP-3G-4A-7P

Saginaw Spirit
1.      Josh Shalla 4GP-5G-4A-9P
2.      Michael Fine 6GP-5G-3A-8P
3.      Brandon Saad 4GP-4G-4A-8P
4.      Vincent Trocheck 6GP-3G-5A-8P
5.      Garret Ross 6GP-1G-4A-5P

Sarnia Sting Players to Watch:
Offensive Leaders:  Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, Ryan Spooner, Charles Sarault, Connor Murphy (D)
Defensive Leaders:  Nathan Chiarlitti (D), Craig Duininck (D), Craig Hottot, Domenic Alberga
Starting Goaltender: JP Anderson
2012 NHL Draft Eligible Players:  Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Latta, Justice Dundas, Jack Kuzmyk, Brandon Hope, Alex Basso (2nd year)

Sarnia Sting Players to Watch:
Offensive Leaders:  Vincent Trocheck, Brandon Saad, Josh Shalla, Michael Fine
Defensive Leaders:  Brad Walch (D), Brandon Archibald (D), Garret Ross,
Starting Goaltender: Jake Paterson
Notable 2012 NHL Draft Eligible Players:  Eric Locke, Terry Trafford, Justin Kea, Vadim Khlopotov, Jacob Ringuette, Grant Webermin, Jake Paterson, Clint Windsor

Comments :

0 comments to “Playoff Preview: Sarnia Sting (4) vs. Saginaw Spirit (5)”

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget

Popular Posts