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Playoff Previews - "A" Division
(4) Barons @ (1) Wolfpac

Barons: 9-8-1 (.528), 79 GF, 60 GA, +19 Dif.
Wolfpac: 14-2-2 (.833), 97 GF, 64 GA, +33 Dif.
Barons
Top 5 Scorers
Wolfpac
Top 5 Scorers
Brenden Ham 15-10-12-22
Ray Diesel 17-9-10-19
Craig Houle 15-4-15-19
Jerome Drapeau 13-2-16-18
Lloyd Weir 13-8-9-17
Mike Sanghara 16-25-20-45
Tony Chohan 14-14-13-27
Justin Matai 17-9-16-25
Herman Sunner 10-8-10-18
Gopal Powar 9-4-14-18

The Barons come into this match-up as the reigning champs by virtue of an easy sweep of the Entourage during the Spring season. That Entourage team included many current Wolfpac players that would probably love some revenge. In spite of winning that series, the Barons find themselves as fairly heavy underdogs against a Wolfpac team that seemed almost unstoppable for virtually the entire campaign. Included in the Wolfpac's impressive 14 win total were 3 against the Barons, though none of them an easy victory, and the most recent of which needed overtime. Both of these teams enter the playoffs on a roll with the Barons having gone 7-3 over the second half of the season while the 'Pac won 6 of their last 7.

The Barons aren't the same type of explosive offensive team they once were. The loss of Stan McClellan alone has taken a big bite out of their attack, but key players such as Jeff Hall who has been injured all season and Kerry Nikolai who didn't qualify, will be missed as well. To make matters worse Rick Cavallari will be out of action as well due to injury. It's not all doom and gloom, however, as the next generation seems to be making a difference up front. Despite his tender age, Brenden Ham is making a big contribution to this team these days and was their leading scorer this season. As well, there are still plenty of capable veterans on this squad. The ageless Ray Diesel remains one of the league's most solid two way pivots, while Rod Wardell, despite an off year of 10-10-6-16, is ever the dangerous scorer as evidenced by his playoff MVP from the Spring season. The back end is a big source of offense for the Barons with two of their bigger producers being defensemen. Craig Houle has spent a few years now as the main quarterback on the point for the Barons. His mobility and vision as well as a good shot make him extremely effective. Jerome Drapeau is also a good shooter that can effectively wheel the ball out of his zone.

The Wolfpac have it all when it comes to their set of forwards. They scored 97 goals this year, a total eclipsed only by the Thrashers. The amazing Mike Sanghara finished second in league scoring with 45 points behind Marcel Lafortune. His partner in crime, Tony Chohan, also had a great year with 27 points in 14 games. These two play so well off one another, and there is little doubt the Barons will need to interfere with their chemistry to be successful in this series. Behind them you have such players as Justin Matai, whose speed and body control make him one of the most elusive players in the game, and Herman Sunner (The Gunner), who can beat teams with his cannon-like shot or underrated ability to pressure opposing players. Mike Hayer has some of the softest hands in the league when it comes to finishing ability and of course Gary Chahal is pure hustle. On the back end you have both Davinder Chohan and Gopal Powar each of whom have heavy shots. They tend to play a more straight-forward game of "put it on net" than their fancy forward counterparts. There are some other dangerous offensive players I have yet to touch on, but I will leave them for the Barons to figure out.  Edge: Wolfpac

The loss of Cavallari doesn't just strip the Barons of a scorer but also a reliable defensive center. The team is currently looking at moving underager Mike Farrington to that third line center spot on a checking unit with George Molatore and Dan Ko, whose many years as a defensemen make him ideally suited to that role. The Barons have long been well stocked when it comes to defensive defensemen, and they have another nice collection this year with Ed Silva and the massive Mario Trionfi. Scott Rickards is another veteran presence on the back end that plays a solid two way game. As mentioned earlier, Ray Diesel has an impressive collection of "Top Defensive Forward" awards from this league and he is also one of the league's best faceoff men. Defense was one of the Barons' real strengths this season, and their 3.33 team goals against was second best in the division.

The Wolfpac didn't finish far behind the Barons in the goals against race, and they have also been known as a stingy team over the course of their franchise history. When your team always has the ball it becomes difficult for your opponents to score and this is definitely a team that likes to play a possession game. There are some noted defensive forwards on this team although Gary Chohan is unavailable due to injury and Sandeep Parhar didn't play many games this season (Though he did qualify for playoffs). The trio of Gopal Powar, Davinder Chohan, and Raj Kaila are very steady in their back end and not afraid to just chip the ball out when in trouble. Tony Chohan will occasionally drop back as well to open up some room for his booming shot, but in some circumstances this can create chances going the other way as well.  Edge: Barons

This is one of many great goaltending battles expected to occur in this year's playoffs. Dean Salsnek's record of 8-6 belies what a stellar season he had. In spite of his team's fourth place finish, Dean ranks second behind only Justin Faykosh in goals against (2.92) and save percentage (.874). This has been a resurgent season for Dean as he is posting comparable numbers to the powerhouse years of the Barons through the early 2000's.

Though the other goaltending numbers for Salsnek are better, one can't overlook Vince Mudaliar's incredible 13-2-1 record this year. Vince certainly does have decent numbers in average and save percentage (3.59, .857) to rank third in the division in both categories. Both of these goaltenders are also noted for their preference for keeping the ball in play. Vince in particular is one of the best tenders in league history when it comes to scooping the ball quickly up the boards and catching the opposition in transition.  Edge: None

The Wolfpac have pretty much handled everyone in the league all season with the possible exception of the Thrashers. Many nights they have done it with a short bench as there is just so much top end talent on this team. They did, however, qualify enough players to not need to play short handed this postseason as they have had their sights set on the championship from day one. The Barons were given a gift during the spring as their finals opponent, The Entourage, was out late celebrating a wedding the night before both games. Sadly, there will be no free passes this time around.  Edge: Wolfpac








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