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Playoff Previews - "B" Division
(4) Snipers @ (1) Executioners

Snipers: 7-5-0, 46 GF, 49 GA, -3 Dif.
Executioners: 9-2-1, 77 GF, 36 GA, +41 Dif.
Top 5 Scorers
Top 5 Scorers
Brad Gunsten 10-7-4-11
Steve Carruthers 7-5-6-11
Daniel Lafortune 5-7-3-10
Jay Taylor 10-5-5-10
Enrique Miranda 12-1-9-10
Andy Saran 12-10-23-33
Waseem Khalil 12-16-9-25
Steven Tung 11-7-18-25
Muni Dutta 10-15-8-23
Lee Bryant 6-7-13-20

After a tough 08/09 season, the Executioners and their GM, Mike Bhayana, went back to the drawing board for this season. What they came up with was a merger with Andy Saran's expansion Vipers team. The results speak for themselves. The team dominated during the regular season blowing out the opposition with regularity. A late season 5-0 demolition of the Mickeys clinched first place in the division and a coveted playoff bye through the first round. The Snipers have had a more difficult route to this point, having to go through a tough Wolverines team in 3 games, but after an opening game loss caused by a short bench, the Snipers depth and high-end talent took over in games 2 and 3. Interestingly, the Snipers won the only game between these two teams in the regular season, a 5-4 overtime thriller with Daniel Lafortune scoring the winner.

The Executioners are about as stacked as you can get up front. They rival many "A' teams in their depth of offensive weapons. You need only look at the top of the league scoring charts this season to see that. The top four positions in the scoring race are all held by the Executioners starting with Andy Saran. There are few in the league that can keep up with Andy. His first two steps are extremely explosive and he has terrific vision of the floor. This will likely be the first of a few scoring titles in the n-dub for him. Second on the list is Waseem Khalil who managed to morph himself from a set-up guy to a goal scorer this season, leading the division with 16 tallies. His quick release snap shot is one of the best weapons in the league. At third on the list, and the top scoring defenseman, Steven Tung has certainly showed his ability in his first year. Great size and offensive instincts have him as an odds on favourite for "Best Defenseman" in his division this year. The always reliable Muni Dutta sits fourth on the team with 23 points in 10 games. An excellent sophomore season for the big power forward. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lee Bryant's incredible 20 points in just 6 games. He didn't play many games during the season but look for him come playoff time to continue his domination. There are too many others to mention; Bryce Goligher, Mike Bhayana, Binda Gill, Chris Lloyd... Yikes!

The Wolverines did a reasonable job on Daniel Lafortune in game 2 of the series (He missed the first game), only to be burned by Steve Carruthers who scored a pair in a 3-1 win. Both were unstoppable in game 3, but the Wolverines pretty much didn't have an answer for anyone on the team as the Snipers walked to an easy 7-3 series clincher. The big news for the Snipers this series is the return from suspension of Brad Gunsten. He is still a key contributor, and if he can tread the line without crossing it, he will add another big gun to a team that can certainly use the offense. Mike Slanisky has rebounded from a sub-par regular season to be a vital component of the Snipers' first round success. He scored only 4 points in 9 games this season but has already recorded 5 in the team's 3 games so far, good for the club lead. Chuck Emery has also had something of a comeback post-season with 3 goals after being held without one all season. Edge: Executioners

Though both defensive corps in this match-up have decent size, there is little question as to the better ball moving team. Pretty much every player on the back end for the Executioners is capable of carrying the ball up the floor. Some players such as Steve Tung or Binda Gill can be considered a fourth forward out there. Mony Sodhi as well is an offensive force and has seen his fair share of time on the point of an Executioners powerplay. There are some defensive minded players as well, such as Rick Tung and Herman Randhawa that allow their partners to get the green light. The team allowed a mere 36 goals against during the regular season, good for a tie for first in the entire league with the Delta Mickeys.

Both sides of the Snipers "D" were on display in their round one tilt versus the Wolverines. At their best they were containing the small, speedy Wolverine forwards, and getting big point shots on the net that resulted in several goals. At their worst, particularly in the first game that saw them playing with a very short bench, they were slow and immobile. The odds favour getting a full bench out from here on in, but the Executioners forwards are in another class altogether. They have much more size and equitable speed to the Wolverines, but possess the most underrated of hockey skills; finish! It will be important for the Snipers to get their forwards coming back to play team defense, and most importantly, the team must stay out of the penalty box to avoid the Executioners' potent powerplay which hit on a 37.5 % efficiency during the season. Edge: Executioners

The goaltending on the Executioners has been a topic of debate for a couple of seasons now. Their struggles to find a number 1 have been well documented, although Rahim Ahmad seems to be making a strong case for himself. He earned more starts as the season went along and put up some solid numbers, albeit in front of a stacked team. His record was 4-1-1 and Rahim posted an impressive GAA of 2.78, tops of any goaltender in the division that played more than a couple of games. His biggest drawback is the lack of experience, especially as compared to his Snipers' counterpart, Mike Ireland. If Ahmad is unable to play, then look for Ron Sharma to get the start. His numbers weren't as impressive but at 4-1 he has still shown his ability to get the job done. 

Mike Ireland was up to his old tricks in round 1 posting an .891 save percentage and a pair of wins. He will face a tonne of shots in this series but he is quite used to that being in front of a Snipers team that has had some high shot seasons. Game one was a great example as a tired Snipers defense surrendered 46 shots in the loss. More often than not he has been able to rise to the occasion due to some good conditioning and athleticism. If the Snipers are to advance to the final this time around, look for Mike Ireland to be the primary factor. Edge: Snipers

The clear edge on paper would seem to go to the Executioners, but the fact remains that we don't play these games on paper, and the Snipers were one of only two teams to defeat the Executioners all season. Having said that, the Snipers victory came early in the season before all the pieces were in place for this team and they have seldom looked back. There is just too much depth on forward and defense for the Execs, and entry into the "B" finals and a chance at a league crown seem to be theirs to lose. Edge: Executioners

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