Acadia Opens Playoffs in Cowgaryby Marcel Cormier | April 19, 2017, 3:06 PM ET
It's the first time in a while that Acadia will begin the playoffs without home ice advantage but if they are to have any success this year, the Bears will need to become road warriors. A 5th place finish in the Canadian Conference has the 2-time defending champions opening their double defence in alberta against the Calgary Mustangs.
Acadia played some pretty strong hockey over the last month of the regular season; their record since the SICHL trade deadline was an impressive 13-3-3.
"The additions of Ryan McDonagh and Niklas Grossmann helped us through some injuries, improved our depth and both of those guys fit right in and solidified out blueline group as a whole," said head coach Dave Hakstol.
The is an air of confidence around the team as they arrive in Calgary. They went 3-0 against the Mustangs this year and a quick look at their opponent's roster reveals a few things that the Bears think they can exploit.
"There is definitely some talent there and some veteran saavy as well," began GM Guy Flaming, "But I think it's pretty clear that their depth is no where near what our group has. We have guys playing in the minors that could be on their roster."
When told about the GM's comments, coach Hakstol chose to back peddle from them slightly.
"We do think our depth will be a difference in the series but when guys like Patrick Kane and Mark Giordano are on the other side, you have to respect that too," he said. "And their best player might be between the pipes."
That would be Ben Bishop who appeared in 81 games for Calgary this season including all three losses against the Bears.
Acadia begins the playoffs fairly healthy with the exception of center Sean Couturier who won't be available until round two. Expect to see Adam Lowry elevated to fill Couturier's role and Chris Vande Velde dress in a depth position. Beyond that, Hakstol wasn't revealing much in regard to line combinations or if we might see Jordan Eberle shuffled around as in past playoffs.
Eberle led the team in playoff scoring in 2015 while playing his 5x5 minutes on the 4th line. After a slow start in the 2016 playoffs, Hakstol tried it again and Eberle ended up with 19 points in 22 games.
"I just play where I'm told to play," said Eberle when asked, "I don't know why that's worked in the past but if they ask me to do that again, I should be open to it because it's worked for me and for the team and that's the most important thing."
Some would suggest that the record and overall performance of goaltender Braden Holtby could be one concern for Acadia but his coach was quick to shut that down.
"He was the playoff MVP last year. Why on Earth would I be concerned about Holtby?"
The SICHL playoffs are scheduled to begin..."Soon".
- Giorgio Estephan and the Lethbridge Hurricanes will take on Austin Wagner and the Regina Pats in the WHL's Eastern Conference final.
- The Seattle Thunderbirds are in the Western Conference final with Acadia prospects Ryan Gropp and Ethan Bear.
- Finnish prospect Aapeli Rasanen is with the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers and they lead their opening round series 2-0.
- Defenceman Patrick Kudla is also still active on the USHL playoffs as the Dubuque Fighting Saints appear headed for the 2nd round as well.
- Acadia had 3 players involved in the 2017 Frozen Four; Minnesota Duluth defenceman Carson Soucy, Notre Dame blueliner Andrew Peeke and Denver's backup goaltender Evan Cowley.
- The Bears believe that they have 13 players that currently appear on their "Prospects" page that will be earning SICHl contracts next year, mostly in the minors. Brock Boeser, Brandon Carlo, Boo Nieves, Danton Heinen, Justin Kirkland, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Tyson Jost headline that group.