2012 OHL Finals Preview: Niagara Ice Dogs vs. London Knights
Photo courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images
By Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)
All throughout the Ontario Hockey League playoffs I’ve brought you my round-by-round predictions and have provided reasons as to why I think that team will win. With the Finals set to begin this week, this is the final edition.
Heading into this round, my prediction record is 9-5. Not outstanding, but I can certainly live with it.
1. Niagara Ice Dogs vs. 1. London Knights
Quick note: home ice goes to the Knights.
Prediction: Ice Dogs in seven.
X-Factor: goaltending. Mark Visentin and Michael Houser are both very good goaltenders. Who will be better? I’m going with Visentin, which is one of the reasons I picked Niagara.
This is an extremely tough series for me to predict, but as I said above I’m going to go with the Ice Dogs in 7. There are several reasons for that.
First off, Mark Visentin is arguably the best goaltender in the league. He can play the puck, he’s very good at stopping it and he’s quite accustomed to playing in big games as he has won medals with Team Canada at the World Juniors in back-to-back years. Vistentin was very good in the regular season, and he’s been just as good this post-season posting a 12-3 record through three rounds, with a 2.43 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Keep in mind there’s more scoring in the OHL than NHL.
Another reason I like Niagara: their top end talent up front is better. Ryan Strome, Alex Friesen and Freddie Hamilton are better than the top three forwards London has to offer. I think that will make a big difference in this series as both teams have very good defense cores and goaltenders. More scoring punch is key the way I see it.
Perhaps the biggest factor for me choosing the Ice Dogs is Boston Bruins prospect Dougie Hamilton. There’s no defenseman better in the OHL, in my opinion, and I think he will have a huge series now when it matters the most. Hamilton has a heavy shot, is great defensively and sees things on the ice that not many other have the vision to see. He’ll come up big and lead the Ice Dogs to a Game 7 victory.
After this is all over I will start to do my prospect profiles again, so stay tuned for that.
You can read my previous two profiles by clicking the links below.
W – Ivan Telegin – Winnipeg Jets
D – Stuart Percy – Toronto Maple Leafs