Four teams remain in contention for the Kelly Cup. The biggest shock of the 2nd round was the Toledo Walleye knocking off the Brabham Cup winning Cincinnati Cyclones thanks to goalie Pat Nagle. Even though the Tulsa Oilers have the home-ice advantage they travel to Toledo to start the Western Conference Finals.
The Newfoundland Growlers were one of two new teams in the ECHL this season and they have been able to continue their success in the playoffs reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Can they pull some Vegas magic and beat the Florida Everblades to make it to the Kelly Cup Finals? The Everblades are looking to make it to their 2nd consecutive Kelly Cup Finals. The Everblades are part of the Carolina Hurricanes organization, which has all 3 teams in their respective Conference Finals.
Here are my predictions and players to watch for each team.
Western Conference Finals
Tulsa Oilers vs Toledo Walleye
Season Series: Tied 1-1
Players to Watch: Tulsa Oilers- Forward Alex Dostie (11G 8A 19pts), Defenseman Steven Kaunisto (1G 7A 8pts 4 +/-), Goalie Devin Williams (8-5 2.45 GAA .920 SV%)
Toledo Walleye- Forward Greg Wolfe (6G 6A 12pts), Defenseman Kevin Tansey (1G 5A 12+/-) Goalie Pat Nagle (8-2-1 1.68 GAA .941 SV%)
Prediction: Toledo in 7. Pat Nagle played extremely well against 2 high scoring teams in Cincinnati and Fort Wayne. The key to winning this series for the Oilers is to win one of the games in Toledo and continue their home dominance (6-1), but the Walleye are just as good on the road going 4-1.
Eastern Conference Finals
Florida Everblades vs Newfoundland Growlers
Season Series: Tied 1-1
Players to Watch: Florida Everblades- Forward John McCarron (5G 7A 12pts) Defenseman Ben Masella (4G 6A 10pts 11+/-) Goalie Callum Booth (6-0-1 1.14 GAA .960 SV%)
Newfoundland Growlers- Forward Zach O’Brien (10G 8A 18pts) Defenseman James Melindy (0G 1A 1pt 4+/-) Goalie Michael Gartieg (8-3-1 2.42 GAA .923 SV%)
Prediction: Newfoundland in 7. Callum Booth is the #1 goalie in the playoffs right now and has allowed 2 goals or less in each of his 7 outings. The good news for the Growlers is that they are 5-0 when scoring first, so they need to do that and get a win in Florida, so they return home where they are 5-1. This will be a good series and it can go either way.
Featured Photo Credit: floridaeverblades.com
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