Tri Pen will face Western in the first round
The Osprey will be looking for a better playoff result than last season. In its first round series with the Central IcePak, Tri Pen won the first game but went on to drop the next four games of the series.
“There is a lot of mental preparation that goes into it,” said Akerman. “We’ve have to have confidence.
The Osprey hope to advance into the second round of the post season this year, and recent results in games played against the Kings suggest that goal is achievable.
Since dropping a pair of lopsided decisions to the Kings in September, the Osprey are winners in four of the last six meetings between the pair. That includes a 4-1 victory on Jan. 17.
“Any time you get into a seven game series, things escalate,” said Akerman. “Discipline will be key. You have to find that line and learn not to cross it, because it can be costly.”
The Kings bring a physical brand of hockey to the rink day in and day out. They like to forecheck aggressively and put their heels in the defensive end.
The key to breaking this is moving the puck quickly to offset the pressure and attacking the holes in coverage.
“You’ve got to prepare for the physicality,” said Akerman. “A lot of teams come hard, but you have to counter with offence. We’ve got use our speed and quickly move the puck.”
Another aspect of the Kings’ game involves their mobile defence corps. Featuring reigning d-man of the year Jame Penney and high scoring rearguard Ryan Gillam, Western have defencemen who do not mind leading or jumping into the rush when they have an advantage.
It creates odd-man rushes that give opponents fits.
The Osprey will have to rely on a strong backcheck to counteract the pinching defencemen.
Akerman has confidence in his team’s depth and believes it could be the difference maker in the series. The Osprey like to roll all four of their lines, two of which feature six of the team’s top scorers.
“(The Kings) certainly have to match our lineup,” said Akerman. “We have a lot of depth on this team.”
At the league’s awards gala on Jan. 17, the Osprey were the big winners as three members of the organization took home trophies.
First, hulking forward Conal McNamara took home the well-deserved most valuable player award. The power forward led the league in goals (24), points (47) and shorthanded markers (3), while placing at the top or near the top in game winners, powerplay goals and assists.
Then, second-year forward Cass Warren took home the award for most gentlemanly and effective player.
To conclude a big night for the Osprey, Akerman was named the league’s coach of the year. Under Akerman, Tri Pen more than doubled its win total from the previous year and jumped up one spot in the standings.
“It is humbling to say the least,” he told The Compass. “There are so many coaches who could have gotten the award.”
But for the coach, it is not about himself, but “all about the team.”
“We’ve got a good foundation to build from,” said Akerman.
The Osprey will meet the Kings at the Pepsi Centre for the first two games of the series Jan. 30-31.
Meanwhile, two of the three home games for Tri Pen in the series are scheduled for the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts Feb. 6-7.
Puck drop for both evenings is scheduled for 7 p.m. A location for the fifth game, if necessary, has not been finalized.