After a blitz of a season we end up with the top two teams in the regular season battling for a trip to New Westminster, BC and a shot at the Minto Cup. It's Whitby vs Six Nations just like we all predicted in the preseason (ok maybe not all of us)
Here are some keys to watch:
For the Arrows-
1- Can their defense/goaltending hold up?
After springing leaks against KW in the opening round, Six Nations tightened the screws on the Peterborough Lakers in round 2, holding Turner Evans and Co to 7 goals per game. Whitby's fast break presents a difficult task and the Arrows will need some big stops by Warren Hill and Don Alton.
2-Powless: The man, the myth...the legend?
In our season preview we wrote that Powless and Randy Staats would only be judged by how they fare in this series. Powless has been a force all playoffs long. For him to become a legend of the game, he needs to take over this series much like Jeremy Noble did for Orangeville in 2012.
For the Warriors-
1- The Buque Wall.
Alexis Buque was a deserving choice as best goaltender in 2013 and he needs to be every bit the best goalie for Whitby to win this series. If he outplays the Arrows duo, Whitby wins this series going away. If the Arrows goaltending can match Buque, then BC should prepare for the JP93 experience.
2- Been there, done that
The big guns of this Warriors team have been to two straight Minto Cups (admittedly as hosts in 2012) and will carry a sizeable advantage in big game experience because of it. If Whitby can keep their composure in the cauldron that is the ILA and steal an early road win, they have the know how to book a third Minto Cup berth.
Do we go with the best player in Jr A (sorry BC guys like Wes Berg) in Johnny Powless or the experienced Warriors? Will the final matchup of Warren Hill and Alexis Buque (both 1992 born players who have battled since Tyke) be an epic battle or a one-sided mismatch? Have we spent our entire preview without mentioning Reilly O'Connor, Curtis Knight, Dan Lintner, Michael MacDonald, Josh Johnson, Vaughan Harris and Brendan Bomberry? (yes, all of them are excellent players in their own right and well worth the price of admission).
Our estimate is that this series will turn on Game 3's result. We'll take the experienced and on fire Warriors to win this in 6...warily. This is really too close to call.