(Above: The Stittsville Rams Junior B team after winning their series against the Renfrew Timberwolves to win Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League Valley Division. Photo by Barry Gray.)
The Stittsville Rams and Casselman Vikings begin their battle for the D. Arnold Carson Memorial Trophy this Thursday night in Casselman, Ontario at 8pm.
This is an extremely difficult series to make predictions for as these two clubs did not meet once this season, as the EOJHL does not offer inter-division play. The Vikings are the defending champs while the Rams had a very good season in an argued stronger conference.
Overall it will be a very interesting and exciting series to watch. Both lineups have dangerous pieces that can strike at any moment, so neither club can afford to make many mistakes.
Although they play in an argued stronger conference, the Rams will still go into the EOJHL Finals as the underdog. They have a veteran lineup that is hard to play against when they are all on the same page and will need to play as a disciplined unit in order to knock off the defending champions.
After failing to make the playoffs during the 2013-14 season, the Rams had a busy off-season which saw them set a more established lineup for this season. They would finish 27-12-0-1 on the year, good enough for 2nd in the Valley Division. After a 1st round scare which saw Arnprior take them to 7 games, they would sweep 1st place Renfrew in the Division Finals before taking out the Gatineau Mustangs in 6 games in the Conference Finals.
With veterans Matt Allan, Shane Hilley, and Mitch Kerwin as the leaders up front, and defensemen Jake Oliver and Neil Penner keeping things calm on the blue line, the Rams have a good presence. Goaltender Matt Couvrette has won a league title before as he did so with the Ottawa Jr Canadians during the 2012-13 season.
What also makes the Rams dangerous is the play of rookie forward Cole Carter as his 6 goals and 22 points in 17 games leads Stittsville in playoff scoring. The Orleans, Ontario native handled the jump from Minor Midget AAA to Junior B with ease as he is a player who has the potential to do some special things.
The main number to look at here is seven, that is the number of games that Casselman has lost since April 10, 2014. The Vikings were down 3-1 in their EOJHL Final series against Ottawa West last year before winning 3-straight to take the series in 7 games. They went on to the Don Johnson Cup in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia where they went a perfect 6-0 to win the Eastern Canadian Championship. The Vikings were the first club outside of the Atlantic provinces to take part in the event, and quite possibly the last as there will be no Ontario representative for this season.
The Vikings have no shortage of firepower with the likes of Nicholas Brazeau and Taylor Widenmaier leading the way. All four lines are capable of producing offense and with a defense led by overage players Thierry Henry and Dylan McDiarmid they have a strong balance. Goaltender Gianmarco De Meis is a proven winner between the pipes as he acts as the Vikings last line of defense. Over the past 3 seasons he has been an absolute gem for both the Vikings and previously the Clarence Beavers.
(This article originally appeared on Overtime Sports Nation.)