The OHL Finals kick off tonight; a battle of the two number one seeds in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie.
Went 1-1 in the Conference finals with my predictions. Kingston let me down. So I'm now 12-2 for this year's playoffs.
Here's my look at the OHL Championship.
1. Hamilton Bulldogs vs. 1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Season Series: 1-1 Tie (both games won by the home team)
Analysis: Here we go. A battle of the two OHL juggernauts. No upsets here. Two evenly matched teams, even if the Greyhounds had more media attention as the CHL's top ranked team. Let's start with Hamilton. Kaden Fulcher has been solid in net, which has been the case all year.. He's supported by a very veteran heavy defense who are extremely physical. Up front, the Bulldogs get balanced scoring from three lines and can break you down on the cycle, or beat you with speed. Robert Thomas has been sensational in these playoffs and has proved to be worth the extremely high asking priced paid to London for him. Sault Ste. Marie is structured a little differently. Goaltender Matthew Villalta has been a little shaky in these playoffs, but he's made the big saves when he's needed to in two games sevens. Their defense is based upon being able to move the puck and limit zone time for the opposition, instead of playing through more brute force. Up front, they are designed very similarly to Hamilton. Three solid scoring lines who can beat you with speed, skill, and force. Boris Katchouk has unquestionably been the team's best player in these playoffs. So who wins out? The special teams for both of these squads have been nearly identical in proficiency these playoffs. One factor that likely plays in Hamilton's favour is how fresh they are. Hamilton is coming off a relatively quick series against the Frontenacs while the Greyhounds have had to endure back to back game 7's against physical clubs. I also think Hamilton has the clear advantage in goal right now. I think the Soo's speed will be hard for Hamilton to contain, as their defensive unit isn't quite as mobile. Prior to the playoffs, I had pegged the Greyhounds to be victorious. But I'm going to switch here. I just think that fatigue may be a huge factor and the Bulldogs goaltending has been vastly superior. When you've got two extremely close clubs battling it, that can be the difference.
Prediction: Hamilton in 6