Road to the Conference Finals: Hamilton vs Kingston
Ted Nichol scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period of game six that would end up being the series clincher for Kingston. They defeated the Barrie Clots 4-2 in the best of seven series to earn a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993. The Hamilton Bulldogs took care of the Niagara IceDogs 4-1 to set up a match-up between the two division rivals for the Bobby Orr Trophy.
For the second consecutive series Kingston dropped the opener, this time on the road. They would also lose game 2 in Barrie before getting on a roll to win four consecutive games and win the series. Gabe Vilardi recorded three straight multi goal games in games three through five to help push the Frontenacs to a series win. After a shaky game one, Jeremy Helvig returned to his dominant form allowing two goals or less in all four Kingston victories. The Burnie – Nichol – Cranford line was handed the task of shutting down the top line of the Colts which was made up of three 40-goal scorers and they did a remarkable job allowing just one 5 on 5 goal in Kingston’s four wins.
The Hamilton Bulldogs first defeated the Ottawa 67’s and then the Niagara IceDogs by the same 4 games to 1 result in their opening two rounds. Much like Kingston, one of Hamilton’s trade deadline acquisitions has been leading the way in the playoffs. Robert Thomas, who was acquired from the London Knights, leads the Bulldogs with 15 points in just 10 games. Kaden Fulcher leads the OHL in GAA at 2.51 in the playoffs. Justin Lemcke is a big defender that won’t add much on the score sheet, but will play major minutes for his team in key situations.
The two teams could not be more evenly matched. Hamilton won 4 of 6 regular season match-ups with four games going into overtime. The Bulldogs carry 9 players drafted by NHL teams while Kingston has an impressive 8 on their roster. Just last season Kingston defeated the Bulldogs in overtime of game 7 of the opening round of the 2017 OHL Playoffs when Linus Nyman scored the series winning goal. With so much in common this year, it would not be surprising to see this series go the distance for a second year in a row.
The first two games will be Wednesday and Friday in Hamilton. Game 3 will be in Kingston on Sunday night at 6 PM with game 4 taking place Tuesday at 7PM at the Rogers K-Rock Centre. Tickets are available for games 3 and 4 now.