Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Scott Harrington (left) and Flyers prospect Anthony Stolarz (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)
The Plymouth Whalers were supposed to derail the London Knights, and London needed only one game more than the minimum to advance to the OHL final.
That's spawned the elephant in the room — a thought of whether the Barrie Colts can possibly keep up a championship series that might continue the Western Conference's monopolization of the J. Ross Robertson Cup. One year ago, the Niagara IceDogs looked formidable entering in the final, but London rolled in five games after dropping the opener in double overtime.
The counter-point is that some fissures appeared in the Knights' game during their five-game win over Plymouth. Goalie Anthony Stolarz (2.26 average, .935 save pct. in playoffs) has had an excellent post-season, but the Knights surrendered multi-goal leads in during three of their four wins over the Whalers. Barrie, with the Mark Scheifele-Anthony Camara-Zach Hall first line and supporting talent such as ex-Knight Andreas Athanasiou, overager Steven Beyers and New York Islanders draft pick Mitch Theoret, can certainly be opportunistic. Long preamble short, the Colts have a shot if London doesn't limit Barrie to one-and-done on its offensive attacks.
"That's going to be very important for us," Knights captain Scott Harrington, the stay-at-home defenceman extraordinaire, says of supporting Stolarz. "It's going to be very similar to the Plymouth series where they were stacked up front with three lines that can score. I think Barrie's no different. Last series was a good learning experience for us. It was a hard-fought series with tough games and it prepares us well heading into the next series."
The Knights, of course, can run and gun, but also finish from within five feet of the net as well as anyone in the OHL, at least. Barrie goalie Mathias Niederberger and their back end — which is without its burliest blueliner, 6-foot-3, 222-pound Tampa Bay Lightning Jake Dotchin, who's suspended until Game 5 — probably haven't seen the kind of heat the Knights can apply. Max Domi is second in playoff scoring behind Scheifele, while 19-year-olds Alex Broadhurst and Seth Griffith turned it up against Plymouth.
Read More »from London Knights heavy favourites vs. Barrie Colts, but you never know: OHL final preview