Ottawa, Ontario – Tonight (Tuesday April 2nd) the Ottawa Jr. Canadians host the Perth Blue Wings in game one of the Barkley Cup Final.
Ottawa (39-4-1) vs. Perth (27-12-5) Series Schedule
GM 1 – TUES APR 2 @ 7:20PM – @ OTTAWA
GM 2 – FRI APR 5 @ 7:30PM – @ PERTH
GM 3 – SAT APR 6 @ 7:20PM – @ OTTAWA
GM 4 – MON APR 8 @ 7:30PM – @ PERTH
GM 5 – TUE APR 9 @ 7:20PM – @ OTTAWA *IF NECESSARY
GM 6 – FRI APR 12 @ 7:30PM – @ PERTH *IF NECESSARY
GM 7 – SAT APR 13 @ 7:20PM – @ OTTAWA *IF NECESSARY
The Canadians and Blue Wings meet in the final and in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history (modern era). During the regular season, Ottawa beat Perth 3-2 at home and 4-0 on the road. Both of these squads have a lot of great veteran players that know how to win, and are going to be playing their final games of their careers. Their average team age is 19.
Perth has been there before. In 2015-16, they reached the Barkley Cup and lost in five games to the Casselman Vikings. Head Coach Michael McLean has coached in a lot of big games and is very excited for his players, fans and sponsors.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said McLean. “Our players have earned their place in the finals. It will be a very difficult challenge. The Canadians are the heavy favorites in this small town vs big city matchup. David vs Goliath. OJC finished 20 points ahead of us in the regular season and only lost 4 games. They are an OUTSTANDING Team. We will need to be at our very best to have any chance of winning against the powerhouse Canadians.”
As for keys to victory, McLean said they have to play Perth Blue Wings Hockey.
“All-In. All-Business. we must defend first – try to slow down the highly skilled and talented Canadians. We must be mentally tough – no penalties. OJC powerplay is deadly and we will not win if we take unnecessary penalties. We also must play our brand of ugly Playoff Hockey like blocking Shots, ‘boxing out’ in front of the net, stopping on pucks, finishing checks, driving to the net and creating traffic in front.”
The veteran Head Coach has been in this situation before. Not just recently, but in years past. He says that as a coach, you must stay cool, professional and focused at all times.
“This is how our team must play and conduct themselves. Adversity will be part of every game. No peaks and valleys. Stay positive and work together regardless of the score or the situation. All the pressure is on Ottawa to win this series. We need to keep doing what we have been doing – over the past 5 weeks. Play our game. Win 25 shifts per-period. 75 shifts per-game. The scoreboard will always take care of itself. Focus on doing your job – each and every shift. Finally, enjoy the moment and the journey – being in the Finals is a rare opportunity. Embrace it. Work hard and have fun. This is the best time of year to still be playing.”
Ty Power is coming into this series with 16-points in nine games and Corey Symington has seven goals this post-season. Those two twenty-year-old forwards will need to continue to produce. On the backend, veteran defensemen Sam Wilson, Matthew OBrien and Jordan Currie will need block shots and create offense as well. Everyone knows what you can expect from Johnathan Peacock, as he’s been one of the best goaltenders in the CCHL2 over the last four years. Those are some guys on Perth that you will have to watch out for.
As for the Ottawa Canadians, it is their first finals appearance since 2013 when they defeated Athens in four games back in EOJHL days. Head Coach Tasso Vasilas is not only excited to be back in the finals but was proud of this group, defeating Casselman in seven games.
“It was a wild finish. It was not a surprise at all given the Vikings are defending champs and have an awesome powerful team. They were also well coached by Mike (Ruest). As for my team – they did rise and face the challenge. They have made me proud all season building to this moment.”
Vasilas taught this group that you can’t take any team lightly and had lots of positive out of the series win.
“The series against Casselman taught us that you take no opponent for granted. Everyone wants to compete. We were down to the final four and the teams that were left were there for a reason. Throughout the series against the Vikings, regardless of the series games won and lost, our guys kept a positive attitude. That will have to be brought to the forefront again against the talented Blue Wings.”
Vasilas expects this to be a long tight series right until the end.
“The Blue Wings have a deep team with solid goaltenders. They are in the finals because they deserve to be here. All season when we have played them no team dominated the other. They were close, tight checking affairs and we don’t expect anything different. In fact we expect them to be even better given the sweep of Carleton Place and the confidence they are riding.”
Johnny Pickering is coming into this series with 19 points and Devin Saumur has eight goals in the post-season. Those two will need to keep producing like they have done. You also have to watch out for Justin Turner who has 12 assists and 15 points while Rookie of the Year Thomas Freel has 7 goals and 13 points. Raphael Lecours has also recorded six goals while twenty-year-old defensemen Andre Giordano and Robbie Pickard have recorded 10 points.
The Verdict is these two teams played close in the regular season. I would expect Perth to really compete very hard against Ottawa. I think these games are going to be very tight in this series. Ottawa is favourite to win this year and the pressure is on them to continue their miraculous season.