Ottawa, Ontario – Tonight, the Winchester Hawks take on the Casselman Vikings in Game 1 of a best of three wild card series inside the Jr Brisson Complex.
Schedule: Casselman Vikings (27-13-4) vs. Winchester Hawks (23-14-6)
GM 1 – Sunday March 1/20 @ 7:30PM – @ Casselman
GM 2 – Wednesday March 4/20 @ 7:45PM – @ Winchester
GM 3 – Thursday March 5/19 @ 7:30PM – @ Casselman *If necessary
This matchup will be enterataing fir the fans, players and coaches. These teams have never met before in the playoffs since CCHL2 came into existence. Four points separate these two teams for fourth in the Martin Division. Casselman has home ice advantage as the fourth seed and Winchester sits as the fifth seed. It’s the first time that Casselman will be playing in a wild card series. For Winchester, they will be playing in their third wild card series in the last five years.
These teams met four times in the regular season with Casselman winning the season series 3-1. Overall, Casselman outscored Winchester 18-to-13 with two games going to overtime.
September 26th: Casselman 5, Winchester 2
October 18th: Casselman 2, Winchester 0
December 19th: Winchester 5, Casselman 4 (OT)
January 24th: Casselman 7, Winchester 6 (OT)
Casselman’s keys to victory:
Leading the way offensively this season were Shawn Patterson (13G / 31A) with 44 points and Francois Drouin (28 G / 14A) with 42 points. So depth scoring could come into play like it has been all season. On defense, Alexandre Charlebois, Xavier Léveillé and Evan Huntley were Casselman’s top defenseman all season. Charlebois and Leveille spent time in CCHL Tier 1 until deciding to come down to Tier 2.
It’s been mentioned before that Casselman has not been in a wild card series in history. Casselman Vikings Assistant Coach Geoff Seguin says the guys were optimisic, expecially when they finished the year.
Seguin pointed out keys to a series win against Winchester.
“We need all four lines rolling, but we may not need four lines. We need a quick start in every game, goal-tending and staying out of the penalty box,” said Seguin.
The Vikings were the fourth penalize team this year and their power play ranked 8th by going 19.8%. Seguin mentioned that Casselman always thinks about team defense first before going on the attack on offense. There’s a reason why Casselman won five consecutive championships between 2014-2018.
Nicholas Campbell was 17-7-1, posting a 2.96 GAA / .891 SV% in his final season with the Vikings. He could be expected to be the starting goalie in this wild card series and down the way in the playoffs, but on the other hand, Zachari Racine is a young goaltender and had a really good first season by going 10-6-2, posting a 3.50 GAA / .874 SV%. He can be a big factor in this series.
Winchester’s keys to victory:
The Hawks are looking for their first playoff series win since CCHL2 came into existance. It won’t be easy as Casselman has a lot of experience when it comes to the playoffs. Kyle Kuehni (25G / 26A) leads his team with 51 points in his final CCHL2 season. The other top forwards that did well in the regular season were Danny Johnson (15G / 33A), Eric Vitale (30G / 16A), Marco Haw (17G / 23A) and Kyle Fleming (23G / 16A).
Head Coach of the Winchester Hawks Bob Gould talks the season series between these two teams and how its going to be a good matchup.
“I think it’s going to be a great series and close playoff hockey. The last two games against Casselman went to overtime as well. I think both teams are similar as we both can score, so it definitely comes down to defense and as usual goaltending.”
Speaking of goaltending, Lucas Devries and Cole Defazio spit the duties in net this season. Devries was 14-9-3, posting a 3.34 GAA / .911 SV% while Defazio was 10-5-2, posting a 3.97 GAA / .906 SV%.
According to Gould, Devries will get the start in game 1 tonight against Casselman and points out some keys to a series win.
“We have to stay discipline while playing against a physical team, then we have to win the special teams battle. Strong defensively will be a must with great goaltending as Devries will get his opportunity to show he has what it takes to win his first playoff series and ours too.”
Winchester ranks ninth this season on the power play (17.8%) and 11th on the penalty kill (80.2%). Gould also mentions that Casselman is an aggressive team, so its our play to try and slow them down. The big key for Winchester is capitalize on turnovers when they arise.
Leading the way Defensively on the back end was Ryan Nielsen who played in 42 games and collected eight goals, to go along with 33 assists. The rest of the d-core for Winchester will look to shut down Casselman’s offense this series.
For this series, the key for both teams is staying out of the penalty box and goaltending. This series can go either way because it’s a three game series and anything can happen. The Vikings think first on defense, before going on the attack for offensive and are a physical team. The Hawks aren’t an experienced playoff team and haven’t played in the playoffs since 2016-17, but they got some guys who are used to playoff hockey. Hawks will need to focus on defense and goaltending.