Two Eastern Conference teams remain as the Peterborough Petes and the Mississauga Steelheads battle for the Bobby Orr Trophy to advance to the OHL Finals.
Here’s a look at the upcoming matchup:
PETERBOROUGH PETES (1) vs. MISSISSAUGA STEELHEADS (2) – #PBOvsMISS
The Eastern Conference cream has risen to the top as the East Division Champion Peterborough Petes will battle the Central Division king Mississauga Steelheads for the Bobby Orr Trophy.
Both clubs were dominant at points during the regular season and enter play on Thursday night in Peterborough with the wind at their backs.
The Petes are off to their first 8-0 playoff start since 1990, earning successive series sweeps over the Niagara IceDogs and Kingston Frontenacs as the team that takes pride in its ‘all hands on deck’ approach has been executing that game plan to a tee.
While Steven Lorentz (8-4–12) and Jonathan Ang (7-4–11) have led the way on the scoresheet, Peterborough has had scoring from up and down the lineup in the postseason, including elevated outputs from a gritty veteran in Josh Coyle (4-1–5) and an up-and-coming rookie in Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (2-3–5).
“We’re doing it by committee. We have all season,” said Petes fifth-year head coach Jody Hull. “We’re not relying on one or two guys to carry our team. Every night it seems like it’s a different player stepping to the forefront.”
Perhaps Peterborough’s most valuable player, Edmonton Oilers prospect Dylan Wells has been lights out, posting a 1.94 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage over eight playoff contests in addition to becoming the first goaltender in franchise history to score a goal in the series finale against Kingston.
The Petes return to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2006 when a team that included present day NHL star Jordan Staal hoisted the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
“I think at the start of the year the community wasn’t quite sure what to expect from us,” said overage captain Brandon Prophet of the year in review. “As we got things going in December and continued right through to the end of the season, a buzz really started to build and it’s been a great thing to be a part of. Peterborough is a tremendous hockey town.”
Square corners won’t be the only thing the Mississauga Steelheads will have to contend with behind enemy lines in Peterborough for Game 1 on Thursday as the Petes faithful has gotten behind the playoff push.
The Steelheads have been good on the road though, playing to a perfect 6-0 record away from the Hershey Centre in these playoffs.
A top six full of talent up front combined with a mobile defensive corps that isn’t afraid to join the rush makes the Steelheads an offensive force to be reckoned with.
“We’ve been a pretty good road team since December 4th,” said Steelheads head coach James Richmond. “We want to come ready to play wherever it is we’re playing.”
December 4th marks the Jekyll/Hyde transformation on the Steelheads’ schedule that saw them end a nine-game losing streak, turning their OHL-worst 6-14-3-3 season around to go 28-7-3-4 the rest of the way.
Oddly enough, the Trout snapped out of their funk just days after a pair of back-to-back losses to Peterborough. The new and improved Steelheads then took the Petes to a shootout on January 19th before laying a 10-1 drubbing on them on February 24th.
Neither Hull or Richmond had much to say about the 10-1 ordeal that saw Mississauga’s Michael McLeod record a Steelheads club record six points, both viewing it as an outlier in advance of the big series.
Mississauga has been led in scoring by 300-point man Spencer Watson (10-7–17) while the aforementioned McLeod (6-11–17), fellow New Jersey Devils prospect Nathan Bastian (6-4–10) and 2017 NHL Draft prospect Owen Tippett (4-7–11) have also been involved. Both Vili Saarijarvi (4-6–10) and Nicolas Hague (1-9–10) have provided an offensive presence from the blue line.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us against a structured team like Peterborough,” noted Richmond. “Both teams have capable goaltenders, skilled forwards and depth on the blue line. I think it’s going to be a tight series and a real fun one to watch.”
Steelheads netminder Matt Mancina goes up against his former club in the series. Richmond withheld his decision as to who will start Game 1 for the Trout after revealing that rookie netminder Jacob Ingham, who played Mississauga’s first round series against Ottawa, has returned from a bout with the flu.
The Petes and Steelheads are sure to provide an entertaining series as both clubs will look to their selection of big names to carry them to the Rogers OHL Championship Series.
Peterborough won season series 3-1-0-0
Dec. 1, 2016 – MISS 2 @ PBO 4 (PBO: Timleck 2G, Wells 43 SV)
Dec. 2, 2016 – PBO 5 @ MISS 3 (PBO: Jenkins 2G, 1A)
Jan. 19, 2017 – MISS 2 @ PBO 3 SO (PBO: Wells 41 SV)
Feb. 24, 2017 – PBO 1 @ MISS 10 (MISS: M. McLeod 3G, 3A)
This marks the first ever playoff encounter between the Petes and the Mississauga Steelheads, however the all-time franchise playoff history includes three previous matchups.
2010 MISS def.PBO 4-0 – 1st round / 2005 PBO def. TOR 4-1 – 2nd round / 2001 TOR def. PBO 4-3 – 1st round
Game 1, Thurs., April 20 Mississauga at Peterborough, 7:05
Game 2, Sat., April 22 Mississauga at Peterborough, 7:05
Game 3, Mon., April 24 Peterborough at Mississauga, 7:00
Game 4, Wed., April 26 Peterborough at Mississauga, 7:00
Game 5, Thurs., April 27 Mississauga at Peterborough, 7:05*
Game 6, Sun., April 30 Peterborough at Mississauga, 2:00*
Game 7, Mon., May 1 Mississauga at Peterborough, 7:05*
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