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Steelheads await winner of Otters and Attack

Mississauga Steelheads celebrating their Eastern Conference Championship (Photo by Charles Warburton Photography)

After the Mississauga Steelheads swept the Peterborough Petes in the Eastern Conference Final, they now wait patiently to see who their opponent will be.

They may have to wait until early next week.

Game five of the Western Conference Final is in Erie Friday night, with game six in Owen Sound Sunday. Judging by the series’ first four games, a potential game seven next Monday seems like a very realistic possibility.

Regardless of who Mississauga plays, the Western Conference champion will have home ice advantage in the OHL final. Both Owen Sound and Erie finished 20+ points ahead of Mississauga.

But don’t count out the Steelheads, who finished eight points back of Peterborough in the East. They have won eight straight games since dropping the series opener against Oshawa in the second round. Also worth mentioning Mississauga was dead last in the OHL with a 6-14-3-3 record on December 4th.

The poor start was in large part a result of injuries to Spencer Watson and Vili Saarijarvi. Overage goalie Matthew Mancina and captain Michael McLeod also struggled to start the season. McLeod has just five goals in his first 23 games, and then recorded 19 goals and 40 points in his final 24 games. Mississauga was 17-4-1-2 during that stretch.

That strong play has continued for McLeod, with nine goals and 25 points in 15 playoff games.  During the East final, the New Jersey Devils first rounder had three goals and eight points, including and overtime winner in game three.

Spencer Watson has had a great finish to the season as well, scoring 15 goals and 31 points in his final 21 games of the season.

In the West final, the attack have had a tough time with Erie’s top scorers, Alex DeBrincat and Taylor Raddysh each have three goals and seven points so far.

Nick Suzuki is leading the way for Owen Sound, he has a goal and six assists in his last three games. Suzuki, who’s expected to be taken in the first round of the NHL draft in June, was named the OHL’s most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year. The second year forward scored 45 goals and 96 points, while only picking up ten penalty minutes.
Erie’s Darren Raddysh was named the Leo LaLonde Overage Player of the Year. The defenceman scored 16 goals and a whopping 81 points, while recording a league best +62.
It’s the Otters’ third straight appearance in the west final, they lost to Oshawa in the OHL finals in 2015. Owen Sound last made it to the league finals in 2011, when they beat the then Misssissauga St. Michael’s Majors in a thrilling seven game series.

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