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Playoff Previews - "B" Division
(2) Mickeys @ (1) Executioners

Mickeys: 9-3-0, 53 GF, 36 GA, +17 Dif.
Executioners: 9-2-1, 77 GF, 36 GA, +41 Dif.
Top 5 Scorers
Top 5 Scorers
Gurjit Dhaliwal 11-12-7-19
Iain Chima 11-9-7-16
Vinay Bahia 12-8-8-16
Robbie Toor 11-6-10-16
Paul Bahia 8-6-6-12
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

This "B" division final should be a beauty as it pits the two top performing teams from the regular season against each other. The Executioners needed a late season 5-0 win over the Mickeys to secure top spot. It also completed a two game sweep over the Mickeys as the Executioners won an early season match-up of these teams by a 4-3 count. Strangely all four of the Exec's goals were scored on the powerplay with the Mickeys replying with two shorthanded goals in a penalty filled game. Both of these teams received first round byes and advanced to the finals on the strength of semifinal sweeps.

The Executioners picked up where they left off in the regular season as they fired 14 goals in their first two games of these playoffs versus the Snipers. As expected, Lee Bryant has started playing full time now that the team is in playoff mode and with 5 goals and 3 assists through just 2 games, he seems unstoppable at the moment. Just behind him is Bryce Goligher who racked up 2 goals and 5 assists in the last series. The Execs smartly move Bryant back to the point for powerplay opportunities, swapping him positionally with d-man Steven Tung who they plant in front of the net to make use of his imposing frame. The Executioners powerplay was a strength during the regular season at 37.5 % and it also scored 3 times in the last round. 

The Mickeys have some good top-notch scoring threats up front themselves, but the depth of offensive weapons is of concern once compared to the Executioners. In any case, at the moment the bulk of the offense is coming from the Mickey's back end. There is little doubt that the bread and butter play for the team right now is to swing a quick pass across to the top of the umbrella formation for a one-timer from defenseman Vinay Bahia. He is typically one of the league's leading shot takers and has the cannon firing on target at the moment. He tallied an impressive 5 goals in the 2 games against the Vikings. Iain Chima, typically known as a shooter himself, turned set-up man in the last round registering five assists. Gurjit Dhaliwal didn't hit his stride in his first round, but look for him to ignite the offense in this series with his partner in crime, Paul Bahia, who collected four helpers himself. Edge: Executioners

Those that know hockey realize that half of your team defense revolves around your own team having possession of the ball. The Executioners use this to great effect as they only surrendered 19 shots in each of the two games they played so far. There may be a key loss to the defensive corps, however, as Herman Randhawa went down with a shoulder injury after a collision behind his own net. Binda Gill only played one game versus the Snipers and just six during the regular season. Getting him into the lineup will be even more important now.

The Mickeys' group on defense is a pretty nasty bunch in general. Makhan Chima and Kam Athwal love to battle in front of their own net. Big Rav Kaila will get a chance to put his size to use against the large Executioners forwards in this series. Kaila had a big series himself with a pair of goals against the Snipers to go along with Bahia's five tallies. In fact, the Mickeys back end accounted for almost all of the scoring against the Vikings. Unlike their opponents, the Mickeys did give up quite a few shots against in the past series which they will have to limit and prevent making bad turnovers or the quick transition of the Executioners will make them pay. Edge: Executioners

The goaltending for game one of the Snipers series was frankly atrocious as Rahim Ahmad looked shaky through the entire game. Though that may have just been an aberration, the Executioners went with Ron Sharma for game two and he shut the door with an impressive performance, stopping 17 of 19 shots. Team management will have an interesting decision to make as to whether or not they will give Ahmad an opportunity to get back on the horse, but this is a final and the Mickeys will put up a strong attack. This may not be a good time to gamble.

Alam Cheema was outstanding versus the Vikings and a few members of that Vikings team told me that he may have been the difference in the series. Though there is undoubtedly more to it than that, his amazing .923 save percentage for the series seems to lend support to their case. Unlike the Executioners, the Mickeys will have no problem settling on a starter for game one. Edge: Mickeys

This is a good match-up of two teams that have both had tremendous seasons in the NWBHL. One team will win their first championship in the league and sadly, the other will go home empty handed. This is also a comparison of different styles of building a club. The Mickeys have retained their basic core through all three of their seasons while the Executioners changed up much of their personnel from last year's disastrous effort, and added several key pieces as they went. As it currently looks, the Execs seem to have added a little more and are a loaded team on both forward and defense. If they can get a reasonable goaltending performance out of their starters they will be an odds-on favourite to beat the Mickeys just as they did during the regular season. Edge: Executioners

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