THE DESK OF MIKE HAYAKAWA..
HAVE NO PREFERENCE FOR FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF OPPONENT
For the Markham Waxers, the fun and games are now over and it's time to get down to business. With nowhere to go in the Provincial Junior A Hockey League south conference standings, the Waxers concluded its regular season schedule on a positive note Tuesday with a 5-4 road victory over the Oshawa Legionaires.
Having sewn up third place last weekend, the Waxers still did not know who their first-round playoff opponent would be as of
this morning. The regular season concludes later this evening with the Ajax Axemen and St. Michael's Buzzers, two division rivals, squaring off.
"If we can stay out of the penalty box...We will go as far as our best players want us to
Concluding its season with a 28-18-2-1 mark which included a stretch where they won nine of their last 12 outings, the Waxers could face the Legionaires, Axemen or Buzzers in the first round.
However, Waxers head coach Russ Herrington said the odds are likely they will face the Legionaires in a best-of-seven series which would start
Thursday night in Oshawa at 7:30 p.m. A second game would be held Friday at Centennial Arena at 8 p.m.
"It's about 95 per cent that we will play Oshawa," he said. Herrington noted if the Axemen prevail in their finale against the Buzzers, they would be tied with the Pickering Panthers for fourth place which in turn would move the Legionaires to sixth. If the Buzzers prevail, they would be tied with the Legionaires in points at 50 apiece. But the Buzzers would win the tiebreaker and relegate the Legionaires to sixth place.
If the Buzzers defeated the Axemen in overtime, a three-way tie would be created for fifth place which in turn makes the playoff picture even more cloudier as to who the Waxers would face.
Regardless of who the Waxers face, Herrington cannot wait for the playoffs to start. He feels the players had been going through the motions for the most part since late January.
"It's been a test of my patience," said Herrington. "It's been frustrating to get the guys focused down the stretch once we clinched third place. Everyone on our team wants to get the playoffs started. And if we meet Oshawa I have no trouble going on the road to get started."
Should the Waxers face the Legionaires, Herrington feels his club is in a favourable position as they won all five of its head-to-head regular season meetings.
For the Waxers to win, Herrington said his charges must play a disciplined brand of hockey which in turn will enable them to utilize their depth. As well, he feels his senior players must take the bull by the horns.
|This article was written by Mike
Hayakawa and published in the Markham Economist and Sun. Minor edits
may have been performed to the original article.
This has been reproduced with permission.
"If we can stay out of the penalty box and we can use all four of our lines and six defencemen I think we can wear them down. I think our depth will come through. We will go as far as our best players want us to go...guys like Tompkins (Kevin), Doucette (Adam) and Ball (Jimmy)."
Herrington, however, will not take the Legionaires lightly as he noted that in two regular season meetings, the Waxers were taken into overtime. Tuesday's finale, he cited, was a one-goal game.
"Oshawa's strength is how hard they work. They finish their checks and they play a physical game," he pointed out.
"What concerns me is how many times can you beat a team in one year? It could be a psychological advantage for us in winning five times." As far as Herrington was concerned, winning Tuesday's game might be the start to what he considers is a best-of-nine series. "We wanted to send them a message."
In Tuesday's finale, Jason Duffy scored twice for the Waxers, who led 2-1 after one period before the Legionaires came back to knot the count at 3-3 through two.
Jason Young, Patrick
Diotte, with his first junior A goal, and Kevin Cribari added singles.
For a further update on the upcoming playoff series, Herrington said fans can call the Waxers' office at 294-2699 or
obviously check this site.
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