Erie Otters a formidable force

April 7, 2014

Erie Otters are in a sweet spot heading into Game 3 of their second-round, best-of-seven, Ontario Hockey League playoff series with Soo Greyhounds.

The Otters snagged successive wins on the road last week to take a 2-0 series lead over the Greyhounds with Game 3 tonight in Erie.

Playoffs included, the Otters have an OHL-best record of 32-3-1 on home ice this season.

And home is where Erie is at tonight and Tuesday.

Erie’s 6-1 playoff record to date follows a 106 point-regular season that was second overall in the 20-team OHL trailing only the pace-setting Guelph Storm, who racked up 108 points.

Guelph (with a record of 52-12-4) and Erie (with a mark of 52-14-2) were not only 1-2 in the Midwest Division and the Western Conference but in the entire OHL.

Quite clearly, this is an Erie team that has taken its regular-season success into the playoffs against Saginaw Spirit and now the Soo.

Not that the Greyhounds are slouches by any means, having finished atop the West Division standings with 95 points from a record of 44-17-7.

But the Hounds saw first hand what Erie is capable of during Games 1 and 2 of the series that were played in the Soo last week.

Of note, the Greyhounds came into the series as slight favourites — at least in the eyes of the Soo faithful, including members of the local media.

While it says here that the Soo has more depth over four forward lines than Erie does, the Otters have the edge in the impact-player variety.

It is no easy task trying to contain an Erie scoring machine that features four fearsome forwards: Connor Brown, Dane Fox, Connor McDavid and Andre Burakovsky.

Brown led the OHL in scoring during the regular season with 128 points, Fox was second with 107 and McDavid was fourth with 99.

And Fox led all OHL goal-scorers with 64, which was 15 more than his closest competitor.

As for Burakovsky, despite missing 11 games, he still managed 41 goals.

The four have carried their regular-season ways into the playoffs.

Through seven playoff games to date, Fox has 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points, McDavid is 4-8-12, Brown is 3-9-12 and Burakovsky is 6-1-7.

And just for good measure, another forward, Brendan Gaunce, has 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points thus far in the playoffs.

PHOTO: Erie forward Dane Fox battles with Soo defenceman Alex Gudbranson during Game 2 of the Otters-Greyhounds series last week at the Essar Centre. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)

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