I really want to do some sort of pun on how the Whalers soundly beat the Attack, but I will leave that for better people than I. Now that the Whalers are in the Western Conference Finals a lot of OHL fans are joining the Whalers bandwagon, for which I welcome. Let us unite, just for this two week period to unseat the defending OHL champion.
First a quick catch up for those that may not know about the Whalers…
Where is Plymouth?
About 20 miles (32 km) west of Detroit, MI
Wait, you’re an American OHL team?
Yep, moving forward.
I don’t think I can root for an American team…
Just go with it… Do you really want to see London in the OHL Final? No? Good! Moving on…
Are the Whalers the underdogs here?
In a sense, yes. I mean they are going up against the New York Yankees of the OHL.
Even after 22 straight seasons in the playoffs?
Don’t let facts ruin a good story.
How did the Whalers get here?
The Whalers finished the season as the top team in the West Division and that places them in the second seed in the Western Conference. They are in the playoffs for the 22nd year in a row. In the first round they swept a struggling Sarnia Sting team and had nine days rest until game one of the second round. The Whalers needed six games against the Owen Sound Attack to move on to the third round of playoff action for the first time since 2007.
How banged up are the Whalers?
With any playoff run any team is going to get some bumps and bruises. Here is a list of the players who have missed games this postseason run:
Wilson – Missed three games in the Semifinal against the Attack, but was back for games five and six.
Hartman – Wrist was cut in game three of the Semifinal round. There is no current timetable for his return.
Curcuruto – Has been out since late in game two of the Semifinal round with an upper body injury. Word is that he is day-to-day.
Sills – Missed a check during a game in Owen Sound and was visibly shaken up both on his way to the bench and when he was on the bench.
Mistele – Missed six game due to a suspension after game one against the Sting. Returned for game four against the Attack.
Didn’t London beat the Whalers 3-1 in the season series?
Yeah, but here is the one thing that is important when looking at that fact. The last time the Whalers and Knight met was at Compuware Sports Arena on December 29th. Since then the Whalers traded away Zach Bratina, Simon Karlsson, and Alex Aleardi and have acquired Vincent Trocheck, Zach Lorentz, and Sebastian Uvira at the trade deadline. Not to mention the return of Mitchell Heard to the line up. This is a different team then the one that face the Knights at the beginning of the season. In fact the Whalers was the best team in the OHL during the second half. We can take solace that the one game we did win was at Budweiser Gardens in October.
I know this might mean nothing, but prior to the Knights 2012 appearance in the OHL finals they last reached the final round in 2006 while the Whalers were knocked out in the second round. The next year the Whalers and Knights met in the third round and the Whalers moved on to the OHL Final. Compare that with last year, Whalers out in the second round, Knights in the Final, could we see a repeat of history? Time will only tell.
It is well known that this is going to be a great series to watch. I think that the Whalers are going to set the tone in game one and maybe catch the London Knights flat footed early on. Everyone should just sit back and enjoy.