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Playoff Previews - "A" Division
(2) Barons @ (1) Entourage

Barons: 8-4, 74 GF, 37 GA, +37 Dif.
Entourage: 8-3-1, 61 GF, 39 GA, +22 Dif.
Barons
Top 5 Scorers
Entourage
Top 5 Scorers
Stan McClellan 12-16-22-38
Dan Molatore 12-8-21-29
Brenden Ham 12-7-10-17
Lloyd Weir 11-6-11-17
Craig Houle 9-2-12-14
Mike Hayer 9-16-6-22
Dennis Grewal 12-6-7-13
Gary Chohan 8-4-9-13
Gary Chahal 7-5-6-11
Justin Matai 7-5-5-10

Both of these teams reached the final the hard way after dropping game one of the semis. For the Entourage it was through a forfeit and then they had to survive an overtime thriller against the Phantoms in the second before taking control of game three. The Barons got hammered in the first game of their series with the Sharks before roaring back to take a pair of one goal victories including n 8-7 NWBHL all-time classic that saw Rod Wardell score the winner with 11 seconds remaining. It has been an amazing turnaround for this Barons team that started the season with an inconceivable 0-4 record, but has since gone 10-1. These teams split a pair of games with the Entourage taking an early season affair 3-1 with the Barons winning the last game of the season over an understaffed Entourage team 10-4. 

The Entourage are an excellent offensive unit. They have a host of extremely talented finishers led by the resurgent Mike Hayer. He has always been able to put up big numbers but since moving back up to forward in the last playoff run, he has been downright amazing. His 16 goals tied Stan McClellan for the most in the league this season and he managed it in three fewer games. Tony Chohan struggled with injury much of the season but looks to be returning to health and was able to take part in this years World Championships (as were Entourage teammates Davinder Chohan and Gary Chahal). Dennis Grewal, known as a great defensive pivot, had an effective season finishing over a point a game for the first time. Justin Matai is one of the league's great passers and has amazing body control when he has the ball. Keep an eye on the defense for the Entourage as they have one of the best collections of mobile, ball moving defenders in the league. Curiously, the Entourage had serious troubles on the powerplay this season with a horrendous 11.5% efficiency rating. In fact, the Phantoms didn't fair much better at 12.9%, although they typically aren't considered a team that excels on the PP.

The Phantoms have a pair of well-balanced scoring lines. The "Twin Towers" of Tyler McNeill and Kyle Peters have been a productive pair for a while, but the line really seemed to take on new life when the diminutive but speedy Bernie Lal joined up during the team's last Parks and Rec league season, giving them another great finisher. Ziad Badr and Meemo Dik also provide a great one-two punch on their line, though they are missing their usual linemate Mustafa "Mojo" Badr who only played the one game this season. Speed and tenacious forechecking are the cornerstone of their game. There are some good offensive players on the Phantoms defense including the hard-shooting Andrew Jamison (who had a somewhat quiet season as compared to his usual production) and Paul Cardillo. John Bruno is another offensive d-man that likes to rush the ball from his own zone. Edge: Entourage

Both of these teams are known as being very sound defensively. The Entourage, however, have it down to a fine art and would have led the league in goals against by a wide margin were it not for the late season roster issues. The team still employs the "three pillars" on defense of Davinder Chohan, Rav Hayer, and Gugan Gill. These are three of the most solid defenseman around in their own end, yet they are also two-way players and can get it done at the offensive end as well. Additionally, the Entourage have the services of Gary Chohan this year, long considered one of the league's premier defensive forwards, but now patrolling the blueline for the team after a smooth transition. There are still a bunch of solid defensive forwards with this team such as Jagpreet Ghuman, Dennis Grewal, and Jovin Gill. All together the Entourage's defense will be a tough nut to crack for the Phantoms.

The Phantoms are no slouches themselves in this department and are the type of team that would rather grind out a 2-1 win than a 6-5 shootout. Paul Cardillo and Andrew Jamison are the main figures on the Phantoms back end that know how to control the pace of the game. The ageless Joe Campagna also plays for this team, and though he may not have the foot speed anymore, his defensive instincts are still strong and he knows the right time to make his classic sliding poke-check to knock the ball of an opposition stick. The Phantoms play a team game at both ends but do have a few notable defensive forwards in Tyler McNeill, Caleb Chiu and Alex Cann. Edge: Entourage

Dean Salsnek struggled in his last game against the Sharks giving up the 7 goals, but it was still enough to get the win. In the game prior he was strong in a solid 3-2 victory. Sometimes goaltenders have to have short memories and he has to brush that game aside and focus on the task at hand, which is a tough Entourage lineup. Tony Ferreira played the first game of the Sharks series. Though he did get lit up a little in that game, he still remains a viable option.

Vince Mudaliar has gone the distance so far for the Entourage and added a pair of wins in round 1 vs the Phantoms. As one might have expected, the goals were plentiful in the first round of the "A" division playoffs and Vince was one of the few to keep a somewhat reasonable goals-against-average in the neighborhood of three. Vince has a good history of converting trips to the final into championships. A series victory here would give him his third Northwest League crown.
Edge: Entourage

One would have said going into this series that the Entourage would be the heavy favourites, but the way things have played out so far the bonus win the Phantoms have been given more than evens out this series. The Phantoms merely have to play .500 hockey over the next two games to advance to the final, but that brings up an interesting question. Will that mindset prove costly? The first round of the NWBHL "B" division had both teams that won the first game lose the second after they were content with an opening game victory. One thing is for sure, if there is any team in the league that is capable of winning two straight it would be the Entourage. They will be back in full force and no doubt a little upset by the position they are in. Then again, if there is any goaltender that can steal a game, it might just be Dave Lewis. Edge: Phantoms








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