It is an Ontario Hockey League playoff series that we project as a lengthy set with overtime games and one-goal margins aplenty.
It is the Eastern Conference matchup between the third-seeded North Bay Battalion and the sixth-ranked Kingston Frontenacs.
Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series are slated for Friday night and Sunday afternoon in the Gateway City.
NORTH BAY NOTABLES
North Bay completed the 2014-2015 regular season with 85 points, 13 more than Kingston.
The Battalion is coached by one of the best in the OHL with the seasoned Stan Butler calling the shots. Butler has been coaching at the major junior level for more than 20 years and is one of the winningest coaches in OHL history.
Led by 71-point scoring leader Mike Amadio — a Sault Ste. Marie native and National Hockey League draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings — the Battalion also features rugged forward Ryan Kujawinski, an Iroquois Falls native who was acquired from Kingston in a mid-season trade.
All together this regular season, Kujawinski had 34 goals, 25 assists, 59 games in 61 games divided between Kingston and North Bay.
Unheralded goalie Jake Smith has been a workhorse for the Battalion this season, having played in more than 3,300 minutes and compiling a record of 28-18-5 to go with a 2.78 goals against average and .896 save percentage.
Should Smith falter, his rookie backup Jake Kment — who is also a Sault Ste. Marie product — showed well after being promoted to the Battalion midway through the season. Kment flashed a perfect 6-0 record to go with a 2.14 goals against average and .910 save percentage.
The Frontenacs were one of the hottest teams in the OHL from late February into March and finished the regular season by winning eight of their last 10 games.
The Kingston surge coincided with the return of star forward Sam Bennett, who had been sidelined since training camp following shoulder surgery. Bennett, a first-round pick of the Calgary Flames at the 2014 NHL draft, potted 11 goals, 13 assists, 24 points in just 11 regular-season outings with the Frontenacs.
Team Canada junior Lawson Crouse, projected to be a first-round pick at this year’s NHL draft, led the Frontenacs in scoring during the regular season with 29 goals, 22 assists, 51 points.
While the Frontenacs boast Bennett and Crouse up front, the glue to the team has been goalie Lucas Peressini, who is a starter for the first time in his OHL career. Peressini fashioned a record of 30-20-6 with a 2.32 goals against average and .922 save percentage while playing in more than 3,400 minutes between the pipes.
Next to Ken Appleby of the Oshawa Generals, Peressini may be the best goalie in the OHL this season.
To be sure, the Frontenacs cannot afford to be without Peressini as backup goalie Jeremy Helvig was unimpressive with a regular-season record of 2-8-2 to go with a 4.55 goals against average and .862 save percentage.
Like North Bay, Kingston has a lively link to Sault Ste. Marie.
Frontenacs assistant coach John Goodwin is a former Soo Greyhound and OHL scoring champion from his early 1980s playing days.
And on the ice, the Frontenacs have depth forwards Cody Caron and Zack Dorval.
A 1996 birth-year utility man who racked up more than 100 penalty minutes over the course of this campaign, Caron is a Soo product who was acquired from the Niagara Ice Dogs earlier this season.
Meanwhile, the speedy Dorval, a 1998 birth-year and second-round pick of the Frontenacs from the Soo Thunder midgets at the 2014 OHL draft, represents a big part of Kingston’s future. Dorval hails from the small northeastern Ontario town of Hearst.
PHOTO: Sault Ste. Marie product Mike Amadio led the North Bay Battalion in scoring during the regular season.