Soo scribes side with Sarnia Sting

March 24, 2016

Three seasoned Sault Ste. Marie sportswriters — myself included — aren’t giving the underdog Soo Greyhounds much of a chance in their first-round, best-of-seven, Ontario Hockey League playoff series versus the Sarnia Sting.

Peter Ruicci, who writes for the Sault Star, is calling for Sarnia to take the series in five games.

Brad Coccimiglio, who works for Village Media, is of the notion that the Soo will “win one game, maybe two.”

In this instance, I am on board with both Ruicci and Coccimglio in picking Sarnia to win the series, though I do think the Hounds will extend the set to six games, maybe even seven.

It should be noted that from his end, Ruicci opined in his column of today that the Hounds “will work hard and make the Sting battle like crazy for everything it gets.”

The Hounds, who finished seventh in the Western Conference standings, had a 1-4-1 record in six regular-season matches against the second-seeded Sting.

Games 1 and 2 of the series will be played in Sarnia on Friday and Sunday and broadcast on Sault Ste. Marie radio stations Rock 101 and Oldies 93.

To be sure, Sarnia is built to win this season.

Sting general manager Nick Sinclair served notice before this year’s trade deadline that his team was taking aim at a long playoff run when it added three high-end, veteran forwards and a time-tested goaltender via the exchange route.

In a blockbuster transaction, the Sting acquired overage centre Sam Studnicka and 18-year old right wing sensation Travis Konecny in a trade with the Ottawa 67s, giving up 16-year old centre Sasha Chmelevski, 17-year old winger Chase Campbell and a whopping eight draft picks in return. The highly-regarded Chmelevski was Sarnia’s first-round pick at the 2015 OHL draft.

In a separate trade for an offensive boost, Sarnia picked up overage left winger Matt Mistele, getting him from the Oshawa Generals.

And the Sting dealt for yet-another overager when it acquired goalie Charlie Graham from the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The prize acquisition for Sarnia was the world-class Konecny, a 100-point scorer who Ottawa took with the first overall pick of the 2013 OHL draft and who the Philadelphia Flyers nabbed in the first round of the 2015 National Hockey League draft.

Another Sarnia offensive weapon is Czech Republic-born forward Pavel Zacha, a first-round NHL draft pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2015.

PHOTO: Sarnia forward Pavel Zacha, in regular-season action against former Greyhound Trent Mallette of the Ottawa 67’s.

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