By Mike Stackhouse
ODDS ON FAVORITE
BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS
–Stars are loaded at every position, especially on defense. But, they don’t appear to have any weak links. They lost just 9 times in regulation this season, just 4 in the final 44 games.
FLIN FLON BOMBERS
–The Bombers beat a similarly stacked North Star team in last year’s playoffs and with the 2-time defending champs from Melfort already eliminated, they may be the club with the bullseye on them.
–Kristian Stead tips the scale in Nipawin’s favor no matter who they play; but there is a lot more to like about this team. There’s a ton of scoring depth, led by Brandan Arnold (6-8-14 in nine games since coming back from the WHL).
CONTENDER, BUT OUTSIDE THE BIG THREE
–They’ve, consistently, disappointed in the playoffs for many years; but if they win their first round series against Yorkton there is every reason to think they could go all the way. They beat the Stars twice, the Bombers three times, and the Hawks once.
–Unbeaten in eight to end the regular season to snare sixth place and a much needed break before the first round. It’s a sneaky team with a handful of elite players.
–It’s a shame to have a real good team go home early, but the Broncos/Hawks match up will have that result. A real good club is going to lose and the Hawks should be considered heavy favorites in the series because of how strong they’ve been in the second half. Yet, the Broncos went 3-2-and-1 against Nipawin in the regular season and they feel good about the match up.
NOTRE DAME HOUNDS
While it’s been done before, it’s nearly impossible for a team that has to play the extra round (wildcard) to make it all the way to the Canalta Cup finals. The Hounds were very good down the stretch. Benjamin Patt is good enough to steal games. Ben Duppereault and Adam Dawe are good enough to break them open and elude top checking.
WEYBURN RED WINGS
Lots working against the Wings, not the least of which is that they have to play the North Stars; so that puts them at the bottom of the list all in itself. They did do themselves a favor by winning the wildcard round quickly so they do have some rest before this series begins. What’s very surprising, though: they were 2-and-2 against the North Stars.