The AJIHL Finals will be played this weekend with the Melbourne Red Wings taking on the Sydney Maple Leafs at Melbourne’s Medibank Icehouse in a two-game series. Andrew Hewitt with more.
VENUE & DATE :: Medibank Icehouse, Game 1 – Saturday 9th of March at 5PM, Game 2 – Sunday 10th of March at 1:15PM
LAST TIME :: 16/02/13 Maple Leafs 6 def. Red Wings 5 at Penrith Ice Palace :: Game Recap
WHAT’S WHAT :: One look at the AJIHL Standings at the end of the regular season and this two game Finals series could be labelled a walkover but after closer inspection, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings are not only the two best sides league representing their home city at the moment but arguably the whole league.
Yes, it did take the Maple Leafs nine games to register their first win but you cannot say that they’re not on a hot streak right now. Winning their last 3 games in AJIHL competition including a 6-5 defeat of the league leading Melbourne Red Wings, the Leafs deserve their spot in the AJIHL Final.
From the first time the Melbourne Red Wings stepped onto the ice, there was something special about this group of young men. With one of, if not the best roster in the league, the Red Wings have been managed brilliantly by their coaching staff which has transferred to on ice results.
The AJIHL has opted for a two game Finals series with one game on the Saturday and one on the Sunday. If the AIHL Final is tied at one game all at the completion of Sunday’s game, the Final will come down to five minute sudden death overtime periods to determine the AIHL Championship Team.
WHO’S HOT :: The word HOT does not apply to the way that Brendan McDowell has been going about his AJIHL hockey, the kid has gone supernova! Scoring almost at will, McDowell has been the standout performer league wide and would rightly be the favourite for any post season awards he is eligible for.
Scoring four times and assisting on another two Red Wing goals in the 7-3 Semi Final rout of the Blackhawks in his last start proves that he is the most potent striker in the AJIHL.
A boxer doesn’t win with just one punch and so is the case in a game of hockey. If McDowell is the one in the one-two combo for the Red Wings, Matt Stringer is most certainly the two. When on the ice together, McDowell and Stringer are magic to watch. In some cases the coaching staff have split them up to spread depth and confuse opposition which has also worked well for the Melbourne side.
For the Maple Leafs, the game is one that requires the combined effort of the team unit. This is not to say that they are not without their stars as the Leafs boast the same number of players sitting on double figures for points this season. Tyler Kubara and Scott Clemie lead the way and are the form players.
The performance of each team’s goal tenders will be crucial. Will the Red Wings stick with Robert Summons who got the win over the Blackhawks in the Semi or go for their regular number one in James McKendrick allowing Summons to take up a roll on defence? The Maple Leafs have used four net minders over the AJIHL season with Jake Burgess taking three of the club’s wins.
WE THINK :: The two top form sides of the competition, the Melbourne Red Wings and the Sydney Maple Leafs will provide a great finale to the inaugural AJIHL season. The winner of the AJIHL Finals will have to be disciplined and not let their patience get out of hand.
Neither side is very successful on the Power Play or Penalty Kill however, if the Maple Leafs are able to work hard, the Red Wings’ Power Play is breakable and have conceded the most short handed goals in the league so far.
The larger ice surface will be something that the Sydney team must overcome straight away because the Red Wings know how to play the surface at the Medibank Icehouse extremely well.
This will by no means be a walk in the park for the Melbourne side and both games will be close…to an extent.
The firepower of the Melbourne Red Wings should prove too much for the Sydney Maple Leafs enabling them to win the AJIHL Finals. Having said this, the distance between both clubs will only become evident in the closing stages of each game.
Used to a smaller sheet of ice, the Maple Leafs may struggle physically and tire towards the end of the third period. It is here where the Red Wings will pounce and seize their opportunity.
Red Wings to win the two game AJIHL Finals Series 2 games to nil. Game 1 :: Red Wings 6-1, Game 2 :: Red Wings 4-2
What are your predictions for the two game AJIHL Finals Series? Who will win and why?
Do you like the AJIHL Format? What would you change if you had control of the league for the 2013/14 season?