The Winnipeg ICE will face the Moose Jaw Warriors in the second round of the WHL Playoffs after the Saskatoon Blades won a nail-biting Game Seven against the Regina Pats on Monday. With that win by the Blades, the top four teams in the Eastern Conference are all still alive in the postseason. The ICE will have a very tough time with the Warriors, but at the end of the day, Winnipeg is still the giant of the East, but they will have to prove that starting Friday.
Looking at the table above, you can see the overall seasons are not even close. The special teams are the big difference in the stats. It may not look like much, but 8% is a huge gap in killing penalties. Will it come into effect in this series, only time will tell, but it definitely came into play in the season series between these two teams.
The Season Series
|Season Series Record
|Shots Per Game
Winnipeg had trouble with the Warriors this year. Not only did that go 3-3-0-0 during the season against them, but they beat them at the Moose Jaw Event Center once. They only outscored them 22 to 16 in the six games, the problem is that they scored 13 of those goals in two games. Outside of the 7-1 win and 6-0 win, they were outscored 15 to 9 in four games. If I were the ICE, I would not take the Warriors lightly, as they have battled them pretty much, even this season. You could say that this might be the scariest match-up they could have had in the second round, as the Warriors had the ICE’s number a little bit this year.
ICE’s Top Players Against The Warriors
The ICE will be relying on their top deadline pickup in Zack Ostapchuk, as he had four goals and four assists in five games against the Warriors this year. He will be bringing his physically skilled play to the series, and the Warriors should be watching out for him.
The other ICE player they should be watching out for is Matthew Savoie, as he has five goals and two assists in six games. He has been a top player for the ICE all year long and is a player that can kill you all over the ice. The problem the Warriors will have is that if they shut down those two players, they will still have to deal with Conor Geekie and Connor McClennon, and also will have to get the puck past Daniel Hauser. These players will make it very hard for Moose Jaw to score and will burn you at the other end.
Warrior’s Top Players Against The ICE
Moose Jaw has two 40-goal scorers on their squad, and that is nothing to scoff at. They also are deep up front and have several threats on the back end offensively. Their top player this year against the ICE was Ryder Korczak, who had five goals and nine points in five games this season. He was a consistent contributor for the Warriors this season, with 69 points in 48 games. The other player that will have the biggest impact on the series is the Warrior’s goaltender Connor Ungar. He went 26-7-0-3 and has a .925 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average. Ungar will be key if the Warriors want to stop the ICE’s high-octane offence.
I think the ICE take this series in 6. The Winnipeg ICE breezed through the first round against the Tigers, but this will be different. The Warriors also breezed through the first round against the Lethbridge Hurricanes as they also swept them. This Moose Jaw team has given the ICE a very hard time this season, and I do not see that stopping now. It will come down to how well the Warriors play defensively. If they can stop the ICE from scoring at will like they have done all season long, the Warriors have a chance. The reason I am choosing the ICE is purely about the fact that the ICE can score like no one’s business and have a goaltender that has stopped pucks at an alarming rate. This will be a series you do not want to miss.