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Playoff Previews - "A" Division

"A" Div. Quarterfinals: (6) Clappers @ (3) Wolfpac

Wolfpac Stats

Record Overall:
11-6-1, 113 GF, 68 GA, +45

Record vs Clappers:
2-1-0, 23 GF, 15 GA, +8

Special Teams:
PP: 11 for 32 (34.4 %)
PK: 22 for 30 (73.3 %)

Top 5 Scorers:
Steve Mulholland 14-26-19-45
Tony Chohan 15-22-17-39
Jordan Chowsen 8-10-8-18
Gugan Gill 9-4-11-15
Dave Fisher 8-3-11-14

Clappers Stats

Record Overall:
5-11-2, 81 GF, 113 GA, -32

Record vs Wolfpac:
1-2-0, 15 GF, 23 GA, -8

Special Teams:
PP: 9 for 26 (34.6 %)
PK: 14 for 20 (70.0 %)

Top 5 Scorers:
Ravind Rana 15-20-22-42
Karman Rana 12-7-19-26
Puneet Sandhu 15-13-11-24
Paras Saggu 12-13-9-22
Shane Khan 6-3-6-9
Series Overview
     Due to a scheduling quirk, these teams have seen an awful lot of each other recently. The Clappers and Wolfpac have faced off three times already since the start of January, with the Clappers winning the first of those contests and the Wolfpac taking the last two. The Wolfpac are hot at the moment and scoring a ton of goals. With the exception of one game where they were shut down by the Giants, the 'Pac have put up goal totals of 9,10,8,8, and 12 in their other recent contests. The Clappers have remained largely competitive versus their other "A" div rivals as far as being in the games down the stretch, but they do enter these playoffs on a five game losing skid. 
Team Offense
     The array of dangerous scorers on the Wolfpac is truly impressive. They led the league in goal scoring this year with 113, just out pacing the Jaguars' 111, with both teams short one game due to forfeits. Steve Mulholland continues to blossom into one of the deadliest shooters in the game. This was truly a breakout season for him as his 45 points almost doubled his previous career high. He finished second in the scoring race to Marcel Lafortune, but took the overall goal scoring crown with 26. He will be a legitimate MVP candidate around awards time. With 39 points in 15 games, Tony Chohan continues to get it done. One of the toughest one-on-one players to defend in the game, Tony is great at carrying the ball up the seam and picking the spot with his lethal wrist shot. Although missing a number of games this year due to injury, Dave Fisher remains one of the league's best players. The team hopes to have him back in the lineup for the playoff run, giving them yet another potent weapon. Also coming back from injury is Mike Sanghara. He did manage to get some game time in over the last few weeks. As well, the playmaker Jonny Pal is returning to the lineup after a few weeks out of service. One of the real strengths of this team is their dynamic back line. Just about everybody is a scoring threat on the Wolfpac D. Jordan Chowsen put up some stunning stats with 8-10-8-18 including a four goal game to cap the season. Gugan Gill always puts up big numbers with his imposing shot, and he would do that again in 15/16, finishing fourth on the team with 15 points in just 8 games played. Big Robin Ponach also has an offensive side to his game. He just made the playoff minimum 6 games, but did manage to qualify. Sanjeev Haer has spent a lot of time on the Wolfpac blueline recently, but can be slotted back at forward if need be. He really adds another good point shot to a lethal Wolfpac powerplay that potted a league high 11 goals. 

     Get ready for the Ravind Rana show! He is truly one of the best offensive players in the game today and his ability to beat defenders is almost unmatched. With a bit of a revolving door lineup on the Clappers that saw the team frequently playing short this year, Ravind often played large stretches of the game, coming off only for a brief refresher when needed. The team truly depends on his ability to generate chances, many of which does on his own. He scores more unassisted goals than anyone in recent memory. Having said that, it's not like the Clappers don't have some terrific talent for him to work with. Brother Karman is now back in the lineup after missing several games down the stretch with injury. He exploded on to the scene this year coming out of the gate as one of the leading scorers. He finished with numbers of 12-7-19-26. Karman is a dynamic player with great speed and vision of the floor. Puneet Sandhu, one of a few players on this team to have gotten their start in the league last year on the Surrey Devils, almost duplicated his numbers from his rookie season, finishing with 13 goals in 15 games both years, but adding an additional 3 assists this time around. The 24 points was good for third on the Clappers. Just behind him on the team scoring list with 22 points is the slick Paras Saggu. He has an impressively quick release and can catch a goalie off guard. The real wild card is Shane Khan. He only played a handful of games this year and had to get his final qualification game on the bench in civilian clothes. If he's back and able to compete in this series, that's a huge boost for this team. It will certainly add another dimension to the powerplay which was already a strong point for the Clappers, operating at 34.6% during the season. 
Team Defense
    The Wolfpac's main defensive tactic is to always have the ball. They constantly press the opposition and when you have a player like Dave Fisher running you down, you tend to make mistakes. I've already eluded to the talent they have on the back end with players such as Jordan Chowsen and Gugan Gill that excel with ball control, but the Wolfpac can play the body too. Gugan and the huge frame of Robin Ponach are great at keeping opposition forwards out of the paint. They also have the steady defensive-minded Davinder Chohan along with tough-as-nails Ryan Simonsen to do some of the spade work and win battles in the corner. The team will definitely have to figure out how to stop Ravind Rana, which is easier said than done, but look for them to put added focus on the task. 

    The Clappers have been playing with a somewhat depleted defensive corps, and that will continue in the playoffs as they were able to qualify a minimal amount of natural defenders. Tanbir Rana, Harry Sohal, and Gurinder Gill all played the bulk of the season with Harjot Gill getting into 7 games. Mandeep Jawanda just missed the playoff cut and the loss of his offense will be missed. Look for Gurinder Gill to be a big option for the main shooter out of this group. The team has also seen Karman Rana move back and play the blueline when necessary. He adds a real skill element to the team's back end when called upon. The team in general is still learning the "A" div game, and figuring out how to play positionally against the big teams is always a challenge. The Clappers did give up a lot of shots this year and they'll need to tighten things up in this series. 
    Rick Baker's 2015/16 stats (3.84 GAA, .829 Save %) are down this season from his career numbers, though the competition in the "A" division is as lethal as ever, and many keepers have seen some inflated numbers this season. He has still put some wins on the board, posting a 6-3-1 record on the year while backstopping a team that has had to piece together a lineup on many nights. With loads of playoff experience and championships to his name, there aren't many goaltenders with better credentials than Rick Baker. The Wolfpac know he will play his best in the big situations and definitely have the belief he can help carry them to another Ndub title. The team also has a few other goalies that are playoff eligible, including Bob Dhaliwal, who started the year with the Saints, and former Crooks keeper Jason Sidhu. Though Baker is definitely the playoff starter, it's not inconceivable that we could see Sidhu in a game if there is any scheduling conflict that would prevent Baker from playing.

Justin Singh was definitely a workhorse for the Clappers this year. He started 16 of their 18 games, and had to face an onslaught of shots on most nights. He led the NWBHL in saves this season with 440, a mark that was more than 100 more than the next closest goaltender. His average and save percentage aren't that pretty considering he was on an understaffed team in a very tough division, but he's shown he can keep his team in games enough to give them a chance to win. He's a big goalie and covers the net well, so you definitely have to place your shots to beat him. Justin is most certainly going to have to stand on his head to steal a victory for the Clappers in this series. The team also picked up Harvy Takhar late in the season after he started the year with the Giants. He is a great goalie in his own right and if given the call, he too would give the Clappers a fighting chance. 
Overall Outlook
     The Clappers enter this series as the fairly heavy underdog, and will face a Wolfpac team that is filling the net with ease at the moment. A big effort will be required from Clappers goalie Justin Singh and the team will also need to win the Special Teams battle which will be no easy task. The expectation is that this series will see a Wolfpac sweep, although the Clappers have already beaten the Wolfpac once this year, so an upset is definitely a possibility. Series Prediction: Wolfpac in two

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