Game one on Friday will feature Shaker Heights Red Raiders squaring off against Rocky River Pirates at 1300hrs March 8th at Nation Wide Arena. I like Shaker in this game. I have liked the Red Raiders and the Pirates for the last few years. I have enjoyed watching them reemerge as real contenders in the Cleveland scene. I have been more impressed with the Shaker product, early and longer. This team has gone a long way in rediscovering an age old winning tradition, that has been sorely abscent. Yes, it show up in 2005 but that is long before these kids took the ice. This year the Raiders are lead by 8 Sr's. 2 Shick, 11 Longman and 13 Siwik are the fire power. Totaling some 44pts over the regular seasons league play. Eric Sterin is the best goalie remaining in the Ohio HS play offs. His mechanics, angles, rebound control and save selections have him solidly in the above average category. #1 Nicholson of Rocky River is no slouch and is a key component of the Pirates success. He is also in the above average category, and will need to continue playing his best behind a defense that is ever so slightly better than Shakers. The Pirates D are more disciplined than Shakers in a man to man comparison and edge them out again in mobility. This will be key considering back on the fact that they will be facing the up front fire power of Shaker who have 3 above average and 2 average developing to above threats. Where as Shaker is only contending with one above average scoring threat and 2average. Shaker and Rocky River met once this whole season. That game went to Shaker in a 2-1 tilt. This game boils down Shaker needing to keep offensive pressure, and shooting the puck. Shaker should win this match up. prediction Shaker 4 Rocky River 2
Game two on Friday features the defending state champions Sylvania Northview Cats and Olentangy Liberty. I have been pointing out that Liberty is the PC everyone's a winner token team from the south. They are. They point out on their web site that since joining the Ohio HS ranks they are 70-13-2. ( this must be only Capital league play not overall.) They enter the semi final this year having beaten three Red division teams from outside the Capital Conference. Those teams being a very, very down Lake Catholic 2-1 and a simply horrible St. Francis 5-3 and the worst ever offering from Padua. Then Loosing 5-3, 7-3 to Findlay, 3-2 to St. Ignatius, St. Johns 3-1, Ties with Eds twice, and Ignatius. Averaging 2.2 goals for and surrendering 3.3 a game. The Cats have 64 goals against for the season, surrendering 1.9 goals per-game and scoring 175 goals or 5.3 goals per-game.
Plan on the large, well disciplined coaching staff at Northview playing a respectful game, just as they did last year vs Orange. Its not that the Capital doesn't have nice players. Just not enough on any one team, playing at a consistently high level for development. Predicted final 5-1 Northview.
Shaker vs Northview final goes to Northview in overtime 2-1
the odds, I forgot the odds. Sorry about that
Sylvania is a 3-1 favorite to repeat at this point
Shaker is 4-1 to win
Rocky River is 5-1
and Liberty is out long shot at 10-1