There will be Flyers prospects involved in all three CHL playoff finals: the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Each day we will preview the players in each league championship - beginning today with the Ontario Hockey League, which has a Flyers prospect on each of the two teams competing. This also means there is guaranteed to be at least one Flyers prospect in the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament in Regina, Saskatchewan come May 18-27, 2018.
The OHL championship round, with the victor receiving the J. Ross Robertson Cup, gets underway on Thursday. The Western Conference champion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, featuring Flyers 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost, will take on the Eastern Conference champion Hamilton Bulldogs, featuring Flyers 2017 fourth-round pick Matthew Strome.
The Greyhounds enjoyed the best record in the Ontario League and across all three CHL circuits during the regular season. Their road in the playoffs has been bumpier. After easily dispatching the Saginaw Spirit in a first-round sweep, the Greyhounds survived seven-game wars with the Owen Sound Attack (featuring Flyers 2017 fourth-round pick Maksim Sushko) and Kitchener Rangers (whose captain, Flyers 2016 fourth-round pick Connor Bunnaman, will be moving on next season to the professional hockey ranks).
Frost is coming off a spectacular regular season in which he finished second in the league scoring race with 112 points. He then recorded at least one point in 12 of the Greyhounds' first 13 playoff games. However, he encountered a stretch in the Owen Sound and Kitchener series where he appeared to be wearing down.
Against Kitchener, Frost held pointless in Games 3, 4, and 5 and the plus-minus leader of the entire CHL (+70 in the regular season) was a combined minus-five in those games while getting manhandled by the much-bigger Logan Brown. He rebounded to finish the series strong in Games 6 and 7. In the clincher, he racked up a pair of assists and a go-ahead power-play goal in the third period before the Hounds went on to prevail, 4-3, in double overtime.
Overall, Frost has 22 points (7g-15a) in 18 playoff games. He is 189-for-391 on faceoffs (48.3 percent), has 50 shots on goal and 24 PIM.
Hamilton, who had the league's second-best record during the regular season and won the East, has had a much easier go in the playoffs -- albeit against arguably lesser opponents than the Greyhounds have faced. The Bulldogs took out the Ottawa 67s, Niagara Ice Dogs and Kingston Frontenacs in five games apiece.
Strome started the playoffs on a scoring tear carried over from a torrid stretch drive. He led the Bulldog in scoring through the first round and stayed red-hot until he suffered an injury in a Game 3 collision with Akil Thomas during the second round of the playoffs. Fortunately, he returned to the lineup after missing one game.
However, Strome has not been nearly as effective since his return. He had just one point in the Kingston series. Overall, he has posted 15 points (4g-11a) in 15 playoff games.
The series schedule is as follows:
Thu. May 3 - HAM @ SSM
Sat. May 5 - HAM @ SSM
Mon. May 7 - SSM @ HAM
Wed. May 9 - SSM @ HAM
Fri. May 11 - HAM @ SSM
Sun. May 13 - SSM @ HAM
Mon. May 14 - HAM @ SSM