February 15 1999
TEAM REPORT CARDS and PLAYOFF PREVIEW
Teams are slowly gearing up for the playoffs
† With the regular season heading into itís last quarter segment and
the playoffs fast approaching, teams captains have begun fine tuning
their offensive and defensive pairings, while making sure they get
all their part time players qualified for post season play.
† This has been a strange season thus far. Other than the Bluedogs,
who had an 11 game winning streak, and the Renegades who opened the
season like gangbusters winning 5 straight, the 4 other CASC
franchises have been models of inconsistency, incapable of putting
together a winning streak of more than 2 games. Games have been hard
to predict, with CASC prognosticators Paul and Jimmy struggling with
an 18-18 record against the Las Vegas spread. Scheduling is partly
to blame; how are you supposed to get into a groove when there are
no games 4 of the last 8 Fridays before Christmas, including a 3 week
period in November? October and January have been the only full
months of play.
Hereís an overview of each teamís chances of winning the big prize.
The team to beat, plain and simple. It all starts in between the
pipes with Regent Proulx having yet another stellar season. On the
blue line, Keith Myers, Mike Callaghan and Kim Nethersole are
3 highly skilled players with uncanny hockey sense, who are can do
it all at both ends of the floor.. Donít try to dipsy doodle around
these guys cause it will only make you look foolish. The offense
runs through these guys and has been the key to their success this
While none of the Bluedog forwards are superstars who can take over
a game by themselves, they all hard workers who play a relentless
brand of hockey and can dig the ball out of the corners. If
Darren Roberts can be prevented from unleashing his vicious
slapshot, the Bluedog forwards can be kept under control.
The Bluedogs will head into the playoffs with a surplus of bodies.
Five defenseman ( G.Phendler, L.Digenova, M.Callaghan, K.Myers,
K.Nethersole) and 6 forwards (F.Baird, T.Ricci, A.Ramdeen, M.Murphy,
D.Roberts, B.Ponting) will qualify for playoffs. This could hurt
their championship chances as we all know thatís itís harder to get
into the flow of the game when having to sit out every 3rd shift.
This could mean some discontent dogs and their possible undoing in
the playoffs. Letís hope so (no pun intended).
After winning their first 5 games, the Renegades have played
uninspired hockey, going 3-5-1 the rest of the way. With superstar
Darryl Vineberg out for the season, second line scoring has been a
major problem. The first line of Joe Lazzara and Paul Iacurto has
been productive, scoring 46% of the Renegade goals. Ian Foster,
Peter Knapp and Chris Nadeau are the other offensive catalysts.
Regular goaltending has also been a major headache, with Billy Mark
participating in only 6 of 15 games. The Renegades have lost their
last 3 games and look like a team without any bite. Team morale is
at an all time low. They have 6 games to put things together but
still remain worthy championship contenders. They are a very
balanced team and can skunk any team in the league on any given night.
The Dragons Achilles heel coming into the playoffs will be lack of
scoring depth. They are last in the league in goals scored (80),
with Ralph Reiber accounting for 40% of their offensive output. Nobody else on the Dragons has more than 9 goals. With players being shadowed more carefully in
the playoffs, Reiber may have a more difficult time popping them
in. He will also have to stay out of the penalty box which has been
a difficult chore for him this season.
Unless somebody else steps up offensively, the Dragons will have to
result to a tight checking system in order to make it to the finals.
But how many CASC games are low scoring affairs? Thus far, only 7
regular season games have had 10 combined goals or less.
Goaltender Ronan Nathan will be the most important piece to the
puzzle. He will have to be at his absolute best if the Dragons
have any chance of winning the big prize.
†††††††† ††††††††††††††††††Four Aces
Donít be fooled: this isnít the same Four Aces team that began the
season 0-4. Gone are Sean Ellis, Vito Racanelli and goaltender
Yannick Medou and a whole host of subs. Enter Philippe Gaudreau,
Gary Laxton, Brian Crompton and Jimmy Garoufalis as their regular
The Four Aces are the hottest team in the league with consecutive
victories versus the top two teams in the standings (Bluedogs 9-7,
Renegades 9-4). Up front, they are led by Sean Marcellin who is
the best pure talent in the league. He and Gary Laxton are arguably
the best offensive duo in the league. While not possessing blinding
speed, Laxton has superior stick skills and is very dangerous from
in close.Laxton and Marcellin are a constant scoring menace every
time they step on to the floor.
The Four Aces have a very respectable second line; Philippe Gaudreau
and Francis Brisebois are both formidable scoring threats. Gaudreau
is 6th in the league in goal scoring (20) while Brisebois uses his
speed to motor around opponents.
The Four Aces can be unbeatable provided their defense remains
solid. But I am not sold on their blue line corps. Brian Compton
has been a key acquisition but may not qualify for the playoffs.
John Wong is a shot blocker extraordinaire, but all in all, the Four
Aces defense can be dissected, especially when the forwards donít
come back and help. They are last in the league in goals against,
giving up an average of 8 goals a game.
Jimmy Garoufalis is one of the better goaltenders in the league but
needs to add a little more consistency to his game. When heís off
his game, Garoufalis goes down too early and becomes vulnerable
upstairs. The first playoff game will be the ultimate measuring
stick for Mr Garoufalis. A solid playoff will mean instant superstar
status for Garoufalis.
The Heat are enjoying their best run of the season with consecutive
victories over the Renegades (7-6) and the Dragons (15-6).
Eric Savage is their most dangerous scoring threat and is one of the
premier stick handlers in the league. He leads the CASC with 38
goals and has accounted for 40% of their offensive output. Eric Roy
is the only other Heat player with more than 10 goals. The Heat will
definitely need more scoring depth if they hope to make a serious
playoff run. Someone will have to step up to take some of the
scoring burden away from Savage; when he has an off night, the Heat
become easy preys for the opposition.
The Heat will also need to tighten their defense and play with a
little more fire and intensity if they hope to make it through to
the finals; this also implies beating the top teams in the league,
which they have not accomplished so far this season (0-2 vs Bluedogs
and 0-2 vs Four Aces).
The Heat become a vastly improved team when they stick to just
playing hockey. They have done so the last 2 games (both wins) but
I seriously doubt that they will maintain this tendency for the
remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs. They lead
the league in penalty minutes and have an act to blow their
collective stacks a little bit too often and especially at the
wrong time. This puts them out of many games and will probably mean
another early exit from the playoffs.
With only one loss in their last 4 games, including a 6-6 tie against
the Bluedogs, the Blizzard are peaking at the right time. Their
premier offensive weapon is rookie Chris Callihoo, whoís tied for
4th in the league with 25 goals. Callihoo looks almost lazy out
there but manages to single-handedly dominate games at times.
Stephane Cyr is the other Blizzard forward to watch out for; heís
come out of nowhere with 20 points in 5 games. Stephane Gobeil and
Jocelyn Plouffe complete a very respectable offensive quartet. The
Blizzard can score goals with anyone in the league.
The Blizzard defense is good but not great. Bob Staric is their best
offensive defenseman (11 goals in 13 games) and goaltender Leonard
Luedu is having an unspectacular, yet solid season.
The Blizzard is the CASC team we know the least and fear the most.
They are my dark horse pick to make it to the finals.