Facing another playoff opponent who had a decided advantage against them during the regular season, the Georgetown Raiders believe they're now a much different team that dropped five out of six games to the Hamilton Red Wings during this past OHA Provincial Jr. A Hockey League campaign.
Number-two-seeded Hamilton has the home-ice edge over thirdplace Georgetown in a series that promises to bring together two contrasting styles of play. "Hamilton's small but fast and it definitely won't be as physical as it was against Streetsville, and we know they're going to try to put pressure on our defence with their speed," said Kitchener native Matt Sitko, another of the 20-year-old Raider blueline brigade. "That's fine. We are a much different team than when we played them the last time." But just as the Streetsville Derbys-- winners of four of five games from Georgetown during the regular season-- found out, the slate is clean when the playoffs begin. The Raiders eliminated Streetsville in their West Conference first-round series in six games with a 6-2 triumph in Streetsville Tuesday and they had little turnaround time before taking on the Red Wings. The opening game of that series was played last night (Thursday) in Hamilton, with game two set for Georgetown's Mold-Masters SportsPlex on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The second-place Red Wings took five out of the six regular-season meetings between the two clubs, three by one goal. Both teams made significant moves at the roster cutdown date, but Raiders' director of player personnel Peter Mavroudis feels his squad has yet to play its best hockey this season. "You look at a pure goal scorer
like Travis Kauffeldt. He missed two months and still really hasn't got his touch completely back," said Mavroudis, who is doing well after injuring his back in a fall last week. "I really think we match up well against Hamilton, but the biggest edge we have on any Jr. A team is our goalie, Ryan Gibb. He makes everyone on our team play more comfortably and it allows them to take chances." Hamilton's backstop, 18-year-old Cameron Talbot, posted a 21-13-1-1 regular-season record with a 2.55 GAA. The Red Wings' leading scorer with 61 points was diminuitive former Raider Kyle Zettler. On the injury front, the Raiders aren't sure whether veteran blueliner Andrew Dennis will be able to return to the lineup any time soon after suffering a leg injury in the Streetsville series. David Jarman scored the first two goals for the Raiders in Streetsville in game six, with singles added by Marc Marchese, Jeremy Whelan, Alex Paiement and George Lovatsis. Georgetown trailed 2-1 early in the second period before breaking out with four goals in 14 minutes.
Game 1: Last night (Thursday) @ Hamilton Game 2: Sat., Feb. 25 @ Georgetown, 7:30 p.m. Game 3: Mon., Feb. 27 @ Hamilton, 7:30 p.m. Game 4: Wed., March 1 @ Georgetown, 8 p.m. x-Game 5: Thurs., Mar. 2 @ Hamilton, 7:30 p.m. x-Game 6: Sat., Mar. 4 @ Georgetown, 7:30 p.m. x-Game 7: Mon., Mar. 6 @ Hamilton, 7:30 p.m. x-if necessary