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Playoff Previews - "B" Division
(3) Cougars @ (2) Executioners

Cougars: 7-9-2, 54 GF, 67 GA, -13 Dif.
Executioners: 8-9-1, 76 GF, 71 GA, +5 Dif.
Cougars
Top 5 Scorers
Executioners
Top 5 Scorers
Chase Butler 15-9-5-14
Brad Joseph 16-5-9-14
Kavi Padda 14-5-6-11
Kuldip Grewal 13-2-8-10
Vince Aiello 13-3-5-8
Waseem Khalil 18-11-25-36
Raman Saggu 15-11-13-24
Muni Dutta 16-13-8-21
Mike Bhayana 17-9-11-20
Kevin Bratch 13-8-7-15

If you base things off of the regular season, this series looks like a landslide in favor of the Cougars. The Cougars beat the Executioners all four times the teams played this year, outscoring them by a whopping total of 21-8. Nevertheless, it's the Executioners who hold down the top seed in this match-up, as they showed they were consistently better against all of the other teams, and they will no doubt have lots of motivation to get some revenge on these Cougars.

The Cougars are generally a low scoring team, and in fact recorded the fewest Goals For in the entire NWBHL. That won't be a problem though, as they are another team that is known to play the defense-first style and very capable of winning a low scoring game. Their leading scorers are Chase Butler and Brad Joseph (14 pts each), who are both very fast and tremendous forecheckers. The Cougars get good production from the back end as Kavi Padda, who will return from a single game suspension, has possibly been the team's best player this season and isn't shy of letting that good shot of his go whenever possible. Vince Aiello and Jason Ashby also are contributing defensemen, and are both among a slew of players tied in team scoring with 3-5-8.

The Executioners finished second only to the Hitmen in scoring in the "B" division, but much of their big scoring games came early on in the season when they recorded 7 or more goals in four of their first six games. In recent weeks it has been somewhat of a struggle for the team on the offensive side of things, but they did have a breakout game in their final regular season contest against the Snipers. Waseem Khalil was the runaway team leader in scoring but like the rest of his team, struggled down the stretch. Raman Saggu, Muni Dutta, and Mike Bhayana also had solid seasons for the Executioners, each breaking the 20 point mark. Kevin Bratch also put up decent numbers but played fewer games. All in all, it is a solid two line attack from the Executioners, but they will have to battle to overcome the smothering Cougars checking. Edge: Executioners

The Cougars surrendered 67 goals this season. 31 of those came against the Stingrays (who were the Cougars' achilles heel this season), leaving just 36 surrendered in their remaining 14 games. There is no question tough defense is the hallmark of this team. They play physical, and on the edge at times, but they are always in your face and making opponents rush their plays. They have mobile defenders that can carry the ball, none more so than Jason Ashby, and some good defensive forwards like Kuldip Grewal and Aldo Chies. I also have to mention Kavi Padda again, as he was a stalwart all season in his own zone. It was not a coincidence that the Cougars held their opponents to two goals or less in seven games this season.

Much like with their offense, the Executioners defense started the season much better than it finished. With that said, they are a capable team in this department without perhaps any "big name" defenders, but a bunch of solid guys that get the job done. Rashid Wahed has made the transition to "D" smoothly this season and manages to avoid the trappings of other forwards-turned-defensemen by trying to go up the middle and getting picked off. Herman Randhawa, though small in stature, has been solid as well. Ajay Joiya and Mike Chand provide some good size and strength in front of the Executioners net. This team will need its forwards to come back and help out as much as possible for the team to be effective, as they have a bit of a run-and-gun philosophy up front. Edge: Cougars

The Executioners crease has been a bit of a revolving door this season. Gurjot Bakshi has played the bulk of the games for the team and has the best GAA and Save % numbers of the three. He was also the man in the net for the big final game of the regular season that saw the Executioners claim second spot and the Snipers get eliminated. Having said that, I have heard good buzz about Ronald Sharma, so perhaps we can expect to see him if Bakshi falters or, of course, there is a scheduling conflict with Bakshi. Gaurav Arya did pick up a couple of wins in his five starts, but was shaky at times and is probably a long shot for this series.

Stan Renoir has had an excellent season for the Cougars, but had his numbers inflated by the team's final game "no show" vs the Stingrays that saw them surrender 10 goals in an ugly loss. Generally speaking, he got more comfortable as the season wore on, as many goaltenders do as they learn how to play in the Arenex, and was one of the league's best keepers down the stretch. Stan is a competitive player with a fiery temper, and will have to keep his cool when the Executioners crash the net. Edge: Cougars

This series is all about the match-up. Some teams just play confidently against certain teams and poorly against others. The Cougars handled the Executioners all season, and there is no reason to think things have changed. Of course, if this series was Cougars/Stingrays, they would be in big trouble! It should be mentioned that the Cougars will be playing this series without one of their premier players in Gabe Beliveau, but they play a team style that isn't dependent on any one player, which is a big change from the early stages of their franchise. Edge: Cougars








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