To be sure, Soo Greyhounds loom as the favourites in their first-round, best-of-seven, Ontario Hockey League playoff series with Owen Sound Attack.
The second-seeded Hounds finished 25 points ahead of the seventh-seeded Attack in the Western Conference standings and the Soo took both regular-season matches from Owen Sound.
But there is Hope in Owen Sound.
As in goalie Brandon Hope.
After being a backup through his first three OHL seasons — two with Sarnia Sting and one with Owen Sound — Hope flourished as the Attack starter this 2013-2014 campaign.
Hope posted a record of 28-19-4 with a 2.89 goals-against-average and .916 save percentage in 54 appearances in the Owen Sound net.
To put the win-loss-tie record into perspective, Owen Sound was 28-19-4 with Hope and 3-10-4 without him for an overall mark of 31-29-8.
Needless to say, Hope was an impact goalie for an Owen Sound team that played in the OHL’s toughest division, the Midwest.
How tough is the Midwest?
Points-wise, Guelph Storm, Erie Otters and London Knights — all of the Midwest — finished 1-2-3 in the overall standings of the four-division, 20-team OHL.
So while the Soo, with its 95 points from a record of 44-17-7, has every right to be considered the favourites in the upcoming playoff with Owen Sound, the Attack should not be taken lightly.
Let’s face it, Owen Sound played more than a third of its regular-season games against the top three teams in the OHL in Guelph, Erie and London.
FOURTH BUT SECOND
Even though the Soo placed fourth, points-wise, behind Guelph, Erie and London in the Western Conference regular-season standings, it enters the playoffs against Owen Sound as the second seed by virtue of having finished atop the West Division.
Thus, the Greyhounds will have home-ice advantage in the Western Conference for as long as they can avoid Guelph.