PLAYOFF PREVIEW: West Durham Ironheads (6) vs. Kahnawake H...
Date: Jun 23, 2017
By Drew McMillin
After dropping five out of six straight home games to begin the second half of the season, there may have been some doubt as to whether the Ironheads would be able to rally and clinch a third-straight playoff appearance. On Sunday afternoon, those doubts were a distant memory, as West Durham downed the Mississauga Tomahawks 10-7 to wrap up their regular season having taken four of their last five games and cementing themselves into the sixth seed in the OJBLL’s Eastern Conference.
“We had a little reality check after we went on that losing streak,” said assistan captain Aidan Conlon. “We realized nothing was going to be handed to us, so we needed to do some damage in the last five games if we wanted to be sitting pretty for the playoffs, and I think we did that.”
The Ironheads and Tomahawks had each clinched post season berths prior to the matchup, but with identical 9-9-1 records, the East’s sixth seed would be awarded to Sunday’s winner.
In the early going, the home team looked like they wanted it more. The I-Heads jumped out to a 2-1 lead at the end of the first on goals from Sean Westley and Dylan Tulett, both of whom have been on fire as of late.
With assists on both opening goals, Conlon reached the 100-point plateau in just his second season with the Ironheads. He finished with four points on the day.
“He’s a great ball-player and a great leader,” Ironheads coach Ron Reed said of Conlon. “He’s great in the dressing room, he’s great on the bench. He’s still a young man himself but he plays beyond his years.”
“I think it’s just a good reflection of the guys I’m playing with,” said Conlon “Guys are getting open and guys are trying to find me inside. So, I think it’s really just the great guys I get to play with.”
In the second, the I-Heads extended their lead, outscoring the Tommies 4-2 in the frame. Goals from Noah Landriault, Branden Hunt, Tulett and Conlon had the home team up 6-3 after 40 minutes.
In the final frame, Owen Strickland, Tulett and Westley twice matched the four-goal attempted rally from the Tommies, as West Durham held on for the 10-7 victory. The I-Heads end their season on a win, going 10-9-1 and locking up the sixth seed in the East.
The Ironheads first round playoff opponent has now been confirmed as the Kahnawake Hunters, who beat West Durham 9-7 in overtime back on May 28th.
“The boys are really confident going into a series against any team really,” said defenceman Austin Haber. “It’s good to see a team that we played against and we know their game style and we can gameplan around that, but at the end of the day we’re going to have to play every team on the road to a championship.”
That road is set to begin next weekend. Stay tuned for updates on the I-Heads’ playoff schedule.