There is little room for error in a best-of-three series. And in what are seen as closely-matched, preliminary-round playoff sets, it will be the Soo Eagles taking on the Espanola Express in the West Division and the Cochrane Crunch facing off with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in the East Division as the post season in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League begins this week.
EXPRESS V. EAGLES
The Eagles, who finished in fourth place in the West Division with 65 points from a record of 30-21-5, took five of eight regular-season games from the Express, which placed fifth with 39 points from a mark of 17-34-5.
Three players hit the 20-goal mark for the Michigan Soo as Dominic Skrelja potted 28 followed by Eric Vanderhoff with 27 and Caleb Wood with 20.
On the Espanola side, it was defenseman Mattias Salem who led the Express in scoring with 66 points, including 16 goals.
Both teams boast workhorse goalies — the Eagles have Shane Brancato and the Express can answer with Joel Rainville.
The series begins on Wednesday at 7:00 in the Michigan Soo.
GOLD MINERS V. CRUNCH
The Crunch, who finished fourth in the East Division with 57 points from a record of 26-25-5, took five of eight regular-season games from the Gold Miners, who placed with fifth with 41 points from a record of 18-32-6.
Cochrane had a trio of 20-goal scorers in Matthew Minichiello with 26, Owen Perala with 21 and Nick Grandy with 20.
Connor Van Weelie led Kirkland Lake in goals with 22.
In goal, Cochrane can call on Zach Wickson or Tomi Gagnon while Kohl Reddy and Kyle McNair form the Kirkland Lake duo.
The series begins on Thursday at 7:00 in Cochrane.