It is playoff season in the Ontario Hockey League! And we can use the exclamation mark since we have playoffs in the OHL for the first time since the 2018-2019 season when the Guelph Storm capped an improbable playoff run when it upset the Ottawa 67’s in the finals to win the league championship.
Yes, the OHL can finally say that the playoffs are here. The early onset of the ‘vid cancelled the 2020 OHL playoffs. And there was no OHL season at all in 2020-2021 because of the ‘vid.
But that was then and this is now.
And for the Soo Greyhounds and Guelph Storm, now is the opening round of the 2022 playoffs. The Soo is the no. 4 seed in the Western Conference and will be facing off against no. 5 seed Guelph, beginning this week with a Thursday night match at GFL Memorial Gardens.
The Greyhounds finished just five points ahead of the Storm in the regular season standings. But it is a new season now, though the Greyhounds do hold home ice advantage on the Storm should the series go to a seventh and deciding game.
Of course, the Greyhounds want to win. And likewise so does the Storm. But the fact that we have OHL playoffs for the first time since 2019 is like a victory in itself.
Having said that, this has the makings of being a close series. Both teams are good, with strengths of their own. And as the Soo is well coached by John Dean, Guelph has a coaching master in George Burnett, who has been manning benches in the OHL since 1989.
Player wise, the Greyhounds have more star power than the Storm led by 128 point scorer Rory Kerins, 45 goal scorer Tye Kartye and two defenseman in Jack Thompson and Robert Calisti, who tallied 21 goals apiece.
Guelph is not without productive performers, though, with Storm troopers such as forwards Sasha Pastujov, Braeden Bowman, Danny Zhilkin and Brayden Guy and young defenseman Mike Buchinger among others.
Neither team has a big-name goalie with a big-time save percentage, though Tynan Tucker and Samuel Ivanov of the Soo and Jacob Oster and Owen Bennett of Guelph have all had games of dominance this season.
Prediction? Nope. I am just happy that there are OHL playoffs for the first time in too long.