Ottawa, Ontario – The Ottawa Jr. Canadians host the Casselman Vikings tonight for game one of their best of seven Martin Division Final.
Schedule: Ottawa (39-4-1) vs Casselman (32-9-3)
Game 1: Tuesday March, 19th at Earl Armstrong – 7:20 p.m.
Game 2: Thursday March, 21st at JR Brisson Sports Complex – 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday March, 23rd at Earl Armstrong – 7:20 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday March, 24th at JR Brisson Sports Complex – 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Tuesday March, 26th at Earl Armstrong – 7:20 p.m.
Game 6: Thursday March, 28th at JR Brisson Sports Complex – 7:30 p.m.
Game 7: Saturday March, 30th at Earl Armstrong – 7:20 p.m.
During the regular season, the Ottawa Jr. Canadians defeated the Casselman Vikings 3-1 in four meetings, outscoring them 14-to-9. The Canadians finished as the #1 seed and the Vikings ended the year as the #2 seed, so you can expect this series to be very entertaining for everyone.
The Ottawa Jr. Canadians are coming off a series sweep against the #5 seed Char-Lan Rebels. They last played on March 10th, and are well rested coming into this series after 8-days off.
Although everyone contributed to the series win, the Canadians received excellent performances from Johnny Pickering with 11-points and Devin Saumer who had 10-points, with six of them being goals. On the goaltending side, Ryan Whitehurst was great as usual, going 3-0, stopping 70 of 76-shots.
Ottawa Head Coach Tasso Vasilas says that their depth helped them win their last series, and that it will help them beat Casselman.
“We hope our depth will help us deal with their talent and speed. Our depth has helped us out throughout the season and playoffs. It is a long season with injuries and school schedules so we have been very fortunate to have had four lines that can play. We missed Housakos but were able to play through his injury.”
Ottawa will be looking continue their unbelievable season and Casselman is trying to reach the finals (again) and win their sixth straight championship. Vasilas says that the pressure is on everyone in this series.
“It’s the playoffs there is pressure every game, every period and every shift. I think there is pressure on all the remaining teams. Everyone has worked hard to get to the final four. We want to do our best to continue to play well. Casselman is a very good well coached team. They have a lot of talent and we will need to be on our game.”
Ottawa won the season series 3-1, but Vasilas said that the playoffs are a different animal.
“Every game we have played the Vikings has been close. They are the defending Champs and are a very good team with great goaltending and experienced coaching. They are coming off a very good series against Ottawa West. I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good about their game and should. We have to be prepared and have to match their speed and skill. It should be an excellent series.”
For the Casselman Vikings, they might be looked at as the underdog, but they’ve been in that situation before. In 2016-17, they went into the Martin Division Final against the Ottawa West Golden Knights and swept them. To that point – they are coming off a big 4-1 series win over the Golden Knights and have gained a lot of momentum coming into this series.
The Vikings staff have their players wearing shirts that say “Six-Pack” on the front. Yes, they are looking for their sixth straight championship, but this might be the hardest for them to get in the last five years. The Canadians tied the league record for wins in a season (which was head by the 2015-16 Vikings) with 39-wins. Casselman must match their depth with rolling four lines, consistently.
Top forward Joel Hunt did not record a goal in the series against Ottawa West and must be on his game in order to win this series. Shawn Patterson is coming off a seven point series, and has to continue to be their top forward. The Vikings must match the Canadians highly talented offense with their steady, veteran defense. Brady Cloutier, Gabriel Rousselle, Samuel Labre and Evan Landry must be ready.
Vikings Assistant Coach said they had a great team effort against the Golden Knights and need to play as a team in this series. He also says that discipline and their poise will be key.
As for goaltending, veteran goaltender Nicholas Campbell and rookie goalie Mathieu Chenier will have to play like they did in the last series, because they were a big part of their series win.
This series could and will probably go the distance. Both teams are well coached, have speed, good defense and goaltending – making this series one of the most exciting series’ in CCHL2 Playoff history.