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Playoff Previews - "B" Division
(3) Wolverines @ (2) Black Aces

Wolverines: 11-6-1 (.639), 71 GF, 52 GA, +19 Dif.
Black Aces: 12-6-0 (.667), 75 GF, 56 GA, +19 Dif.
Top 5 Scorers
Black Aces
Top 5 Scorers
Andy Hundhal 14-14-13-27
Dogar Gill 18-7-14-21
Hashmat Mohammad 14-8-10-18
Ryan Finley 12-10-6-16
Rashid Wahed 16-2-14-16
Kevin Irwin 14-8-11-19
Jeremy Skinner 16-8-8-16
Corey Albino 17-7-7-14
Paul Bennett 17-5-9-14
Chris Allegretto 12-7-6-13

As with the entire "B" division this year, there wasn't much separating these two teams. With the 18 game season in the books the Wolverines and Black Aces find themselves within a single point of each other with an identical goal differential of +19. The Wolverines took the season series 2-1 but the Black Aces won the most recent of those games by a goal which in the end was the deciding factor in their playoff seeding. This series features another outstanding goaltending match-up and an interesting dichotomy of offensive styles.

Both of these teams are middle of the pack scorers that would rather win a defensive struggle than a shootout. The Wolverines have an entirely different sort of attack than do the Black Aces, featuring a couple of top end stickhandlers that they let loose to work their one-on-one magic on opposition defenders. Andy Hundhal had a breakout campaign in his sophomore season, and looked like an entirely different player than in his rookie season with the Warhawks last spring. His 27 points in 14 games was good for fifth in scoring and should earn him serious MVP consideration. Hashmat Mohammad is still one of the toughest players in the league to dislodge from the ball and a seriously dangerous player if there is only a single defender between him and the net. His achilles heal remain his inability to use his teammates by moving the ball at the proper time. The rest of the Wolverines forwards have no such issue as the team in general is one of the best passing teams around. Players such as Rashid Wahed, Ryan Finley, and Dogar Gill are constantly employing a tic-tac-toe mentality and making the ball do the work. Dogar also was a top scorer this year as he was last season for the Wolverines as well. His quick release is very effective but like Rashid, he often prefers the pass. Look for power forward Ryan Finley to go hard to the net to score some goals.

The Black Aces play a completely different style on offense, often depending on three lines to grind things out. They don't have the big name talent up front but rather a group of extremely effective forwards, each able to both score and check. The team scoring lead was up for grabs most of the season with Kevin Irwin grabbing the title in the end with 19 points in 14 games. He is one of the fastest players in the league and just loves to take off and circle the entire floor when he gets the ball on his blade. The team's former goaltending hero, Corey Albino, has made a successful move to forward and finished with a decent total of 17-7-7-14, good for third place on the team. One of the team's great offensive weapons is defensemen Jeremy Skinner who loves to jump into the rush and has a great shot release that he can get off while in motion. He recorded 16 points in as many games finishing behind only Andrew Jamison and Chuck Emery in the defensemen scoring race. Paul Bennett has struggled to some degree since his 14 goal season in 08/09 season. He scored only 5 this season and 3 during the Spring, but this may be due to the fact that the team has so much more offensive depth than last year when he was their clear go-to-guy. He still remain a threat however, and the Wolverines will have to be aware of him. There are a host of players at the point a game plateau including Chris Allegreto, Jagpreet Ghuman and Bal Parmar. Dennis Grewal, most notably connected with great defensive work, also put up some good numbers in limited action (7-4-7-11).  Edge: None

These teams finished one and two in the goals against department by a fairly wide margin over the rest of the field so they can clearly play defense. The Wolverines team GAA of 2.89 was behind only the Thrashers in the entire league. Harminder Rai is the team's top rearguard and he is effective at both ends. He has a great ability to clear the ball away from the danger areas to ease pressure even if it means firing it out of play. Terry Wong brings loads of experience and is a fierce competitor, rarely losing the corner battles. The Wolverines will have a bit of a hurdle to climb, however, as late season addition Zach Kelm was unable to qualify for playoffs. He had been giving them excellent minutes on the back end in the few games he did play and should be an effective player for them next season. The team will have to play a forward on defense but then again they have been doing that all year anyway.

The Black Aces defense corps is lead by Trent Nellis. He is certainly one of the most feared defenders in the league and unmatched in the department of strength and crease clearing ability. He does need to know where to draw the line and his 52 penalty minutes are far two many. Fortunately the Black Aces featured a league best penalty kill rate of 89% to go with their lead in being shorthanded the most times. The rest of the defensive group is rather unsung, but players like Steve Aspiri, Bob Kidd, and Bal Parmar are solid in their own end. This team seems so hard to score on year in and year out and definitely feature too many good defensive forwards to name, but Dennis Grewal, and Jagpreet Ghuman stand out as particularly good.  Edge: None

Many people have been looking forward to this match-up between the pipes. It is a contest not just between two great goalies, but two of the younger, up-and-comers in the NWBHL in the form of Gurn Sumal and Cristian Campeanu. Gurn is in his third season with the league and sports an above .500 winning percentage despite playing in front of a fairly young team. His goals-against of 3.00 and save percentage of .873 rank him second in both categories behind the man he will be facing at the other end. Gurn had many Wolverines worried a few weeks ago when he missed some time with a knee injury only to come back and aggravate his wrist. It didn't seem to slow him down any, as he was exceptional in his return, giving up only 5 goals in 3 games (Including an emergency start in "A").

Rookie Cristian Campeanu has turned a lot of heads this season and even been mentioned as one of the favorites to take the "B" division's MVP award. His numbers are truly extraordinary; first in GAA (2.73), first in save % (.890), first in wins (10), and the top goaltender in the 3-stars ranking, finishing behind only Meemo Dik and Trent Plul for the overall title. Both Cristian and Gurn take up a lot of net and play a strong positional game rather than relying on pure reflexes. Against any other "B" goalie at the moment, I would give Cristian the edge but Gurn seems more than ready to go toe-to-toe in this series.  Edge: None

The tightness of this series cannot be understated. These two teams are equal in so many different categories that it really boggles the mind. The only thing I can guarantee is that this will be a low scoring series that will go to three games. There may even be some overtime involved. I will let you pick the winner of this series for yourself because I certainly can't. Edge: None

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