3 Reasons Why Each Team Might Win the Continental Cupby Matt MacInnis | May 29, 2017, 1:45 PM ET
After an 82 game regular season and 12 playoff victories for both the Philadelphia Fire Ants and Vancouver Island Norsemen, just 4 wins stand between them and the Cup.
Following a week of speculation, chatter and talking head hot-takes, we’re just hours away from Game 1 of the 2017 Continental Cup Finals. Here are the top 3 reasons why each team might be the victors.
Philadelphia Fire Ants
1) They’re 3-0 vs the Norsemen this season.
Sometimes you just don’t want to overthink things. The Fire Ants and Norsemen played three times this season, all in the last two months of the season, and the Ants went 3-0. While two of the wins came in overtime, the third was a decisive 7-4 shellacking. Most notably, all three games came after the trade deadline, so the rosters that played those games were virtually the same as the ones about to square off for the Cup. Fun Fact: The Ants are the only team who faced all three of the Norsemens Three Kings of Goaltending: Jonathan Quick, Joonas Korpisalo and Matt Murray.
2) Health and Durability
The Fire Ants have managed to play the exact same roster every single one of their 17 playoff games so far. Although Ty Rattie is out long-term with an injury, he is a farmhand who got injured during the GHA playoffs, and wouldn’t have been a factor anyhow. This consistency has enabled GM Donovan to dial in the best-possible lineup for his squad. With a highly durable squad, the Fire Ants aren’t likely to experience any key injuries. In contrast, the Norsemen have dressed 27 different skaters during the post-season. Things have been so dire, they signed two unrestricted free agents in the playoffs, an event that may be unprecedented in SICHL history. Adam Henrique, who is expected back at some point during the Finals, has missed the last 10 games. Defencemen Ryan Ellis, Duncan Keith, Zbynek Michael and Dalton Prout have all been injured at some point – and Luke Schenn served a suspension. Of the Norsemen’s top 10 d-men, only three have appeared in all 17 games.
3) Norm is Petty and Spiteful
Does anyone really believe that GM Donovan is NOT going to win the Continental Cup during the year of #SICHLSumm17? You just know he’s going to show up in Edmonton doing his best impression of the Vince McMahon strut, probably with a custom-made SICHL title belt around his shoulder, wearing a damn three-piece suit in the middle of summer.
Vancouver Island Norsemen
1) Joonas Korpisalo may be a wizard
At this point, nobody has been able to prove that 2017 sim Joonas Korpisalo isn’t some sort of robot sent from the future for the sole purpose of pwning the 2016-17 SICHL season. In the post-season, Korpisalo has been dominant in his 10 appearances, posting an unbelievable 1.33 GAA and a sparkling .944 save percentage. He’s won 7 of the 12 games thus far for the team – and the reality is that his regular season wasn’t much different. Even before this heater, Korpisalo went 19-6 during the regular season with four shutouts and a 1.97 GAA. The rookie has been en fuego since puck drop and shows no signs of letting up.
2) Home Ice
The Continental Cup Finals will start in West Coast Place, and games 5 and 7 (*if necessary) will also be played in Victoria. The Norsemen were…very good at home, putting up a pretty great 31-7-1 record during the regular season. That said, they’ve split the first two games of every series in the playoffs and the Ants were actually stronger on the road than they were at home during the regular season.
3) Strength Down the Middle
Should they so choose, the Norsemen can ice a lineup whose centre depth chart runs: Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Bjugstad. That’s right, Datsyuk, one of the greatest players in SICHL history (16th all-time in regular season points, 5th all-time in playoff scoring), is the team’s third best centre. As bad as the Norsemen have been during his time, Crosby has always performed well. Coming off a poor Conference Finals series, the hockey world will be watching to see if he shines in the Cup Finals.
You can never forget one truth: The Sim Hates Matt.