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Playoff Previews - "B" Division
(5) Wolverines @ (4) Snipers

Wolverines: 7-5, 53 GF, 43 GA, +10 Dif.
Snipers: 7-5, 46 GF, 49 GA, -3 Dif.
Wolverines
Top 5 Scorers
Snipers
Top 5 Scorers
Dogar Gill 12-10-13-23
Amrit Shergill 12-4-12-16
Rashid Wahed 10-7-7-14
Manroz Pooni 10-8-4-12
Gurp Singh 11-5-6-11
Brad Gunsten 10-7-4-11
Steve Carruthers 7-5-6-11
Daniel Lafortune 5-7-3-10
Jay Taylor 10-5-5-10
Enrique Miranda 12-1-9-10

Though these teams finished with identical 7-5 records, the Snipers gain a higher seed by virtue of their 6-4 victory over the Wolverines that came early in the season, despite the fact the Wolverines have the much better goal differential. This will be the first playoff experience for this expansion Wolverines team, with many players just missing the opportunity to have gotten their feet wet last season while playing for a Stingrays team that came up just short in the playoff race. The Snipers stumbled badly at the end of their previous season losing their final six games to also miss the postseason, but got off to a good start this year and got a huge boost with the addition of the dynamic Daniel Lafortune a few games in.

It's no secret that the Snipers will be relying heavily on Daniel Lafortune during this playoff run. The fact is when watching the Snipers, the difference when he is in the lineup as compared to when he is not is almost remarkable. Stick-handling at speed and a killer shot are a big part of his arsenal but he has plenty of hockey sense and can quarterback the Snipers offense simply by taking charge of faceoff and powerplay formations. Another addition from the Rage (and an on-again-off-again Sniper) is Steve Carruthers, who has long been known to chase opposition players around their own zone with dogged determination, forcing many a turnover. An interesting sideline to the Snipers first round series will be the absence of one of their top producers, Brad Gunsten, due to a three game suspension picked up at the end of the regular season. Other players will have to step up and fill the void, so look for Jay Taylor and Kono Douglas, both veteran reliable scorers to pick up the slack. The big point shots that the Snipers used so successfully last season seemed to dry up a bit this year as Enrique Miranda and Chuck Emery who combined for an impressive 11 goals between them, managed only a single tally this year. 

The Wolverines offense scored more than the Snipers did this season, but after the top line there are definitely depth issues up front for this team. Dogar Gill had a breakout campaign for the Wolverines finishing with 23 points, a full 7 ahead of his next teammate, Amrit Shergill. Rashid Wahed has bounced around a few teams over the last couple of years, but seems to have found a home here, and looks very comfortable on the top unit for the Wolverines. Harminder Rai, although not putting up the incredible numbers he did in his 08/09 season with the 'Rays, is still the go-to guy from the point for this team as he remains one of the game's hardest shooters. He runs the powerplay and is frequently lined up with another hard shooter, the one and only Iqbal Jhuti, although the Wolverines are not afraid to mix things up and have tried Dogar Gill on the point at times as well. Manroz Pooni is aother one of the league's good young players and he will be looked upon to help supplement the offense. What you see is what you get from this team as the bulk of their players played the full season as compared to the barely qualifying "secret weapons" the Snipers will be bringing out. Edge: Snipers

There is an interesting contrast of player types on these two clubs. The Wolverines seem to be a more mobile group. Harminder Rai, Gurp Singh, and Jay Hothi tend to like to carry the ball and jump up into the play a little more. The Snipers on the other hand, tend to play a more stationary, stay-at-home, type of game but with a number of hard shooting players such as Emery, Miranda, and Chris Rojas. You can also give the size edge to the Snipers as they are very good at clearing players out of their own crease, but can be beaten out of the corners by opposition forwards with sheer foot speed. It is my belief that mobility and ball-handling trump size so give the nod to the Wolverines in this category. Edge: Wolverines

This is one of the real marquee goaltending match-ups of this year's playoffs; the proven veteran versus the young hotshot. Mike Ireland has backstopped this Snipers team since their inception in the Spring of 2006 and has been the team's MVP in many of those seasons. Oddly, despite being two games over .500, his GAA is the same as last year and his save percentage is actually lower than last season in which he was four games below .500. Having said that, he is always a big game goalie and can be expected to have another strong post-season for this team.

Gurn Sumal has been quite the story since entering the league a season and a half ago. He almost led the Stingrays into the playoffs after joining them late in the 08/09 campaign, and his play this year has been just as outstanding. His 2.82 average is second behind only the Executioners Rahim Ahmad and his save % of .892 is best in the division among goalies with at least 4 games played. You couldn't go wrong with either of these goalies, but at the moment Sumal is putting up the big-time numbers. Edge: Wolverines

This is another difficult series to pick, as one would expect from a number 4 and 5 seed playing one another. The experience factor favours the Snipers but the Wolverines are a young hungry team who know how to play together well. There is no question though, the presence of Daniel Lafortune energizes the Snipers in a big way, and though it is no certainty that he will even be able to attend these games due to other commitments, the fact is he put in a concerted effort to qualify on the last day, so expect him to be there. Also expect him and Carruthers to be too much for the Wolverines to handle, but all bets are off if they don't show up. Edge: Snipers








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