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Playoff Previews
Thursday, February 12, 2009

The PEI Minor Junior Hockey League Playoffs begin on the weekend with the Island Champion set to represent the Island at the Maritime-Hockey North Junior C Championships in Barrington, NS in early April. The playoffs will have three rounds with the first round winners and the top seeded first round loser advancing to the semis. The first round will be a best-of-five, while the last two will be best-of-seven.   Here is a preview of the first round matchups: 
Season Series: 4-0 Tignish
They didnít go undefeated like they did last regular season, but the Tignish Aces put together another great year with only 3 losses and are once again the first seed headed into the playoffs. The Aces are lead up front by Mike OíHalloran who won the scoring race with 65 points (28G, 37A). They also had the top goaltender, Mark Arsenault, in both save percentage (.908) and GAA (2.54). They will face the Souris Boathaulers, who had a strong first season in the league. They played their best hockey in the middle of the season when they were a strong contender in the four-way race for third place in the standings before going 0-8-1 in their final 9 games of the season.   They have played the Aces well in their last two meetings however, but will definitely be the underdogs heading into this series.
Season Series: 3-2 North River
The Flames had the highest scoring offense in the league this season with 197 goals scored. They were also the best team on both sides of special teams with the best power-play (25.1%) and penalty kill (84.4%). Nic Jones lead the team in points with 53, while Adam Gallant lead in goals with 24. The Flames had the best team GAA of 3.18 by the goaltending duo of Kevin MacKay and Ryan Payne.   Morell felt the brunt of the North River offense, losing each of the first three meetings with the Flames by a combined score of 35-7, but countered by winning the final two meetings. Jamie Kelly was in contention for the scoring title all year and managed to finish 3rd in points while scoring a league best 33 goals. If there is an area that the Flyers must improve on to be successful in the playoffs, it is their goals against. They had a league-high 197 this season.
Season Series: 3-2-0-1 Pownal
There couldnít be a tighter first round matchup. The Red Devils donít have any dominant goal-scorers like the Aces or Flames, but they do have a balanced offense that can get the job done. It also helps that they have a strong goaltender that can steal any game. Kent Doyle played all 28 games for the Red Devils and had the third highest save percentage among goaltenders with at least 5 games played (.872). Sherwood is probably the hottest team in the league heading into the playoffs. They have won 6 of their last 7 games including wins over both Tignish and North River. The only setback during that run was a 5-4 loss to the Red Devils on January 31st. Sherwood needs to overcome their problems on special teams to make a playoff run. They have the weakest penalty kill (68.3%) and the second weakest power-play (19.4%) heading into the playoffs.
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