GWMHL

Series Preview: Sawchuk Final

In News on June 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm

#2 West Virginia River Rats (51-22-9) vs. #4 Farmington Fighting Saints (40-34-8)


What does a Sawchuk Final feel like when it doesn’t involve Portland? After five long years, we’ll finally find out. And we’re in for a great series. The match-up between West Virginia and Farmington has a little everything – and is a lot more evenly matched than you might think. The Fighting Saints are riding high on the momentum from a stunning six-game upset of the Winterhawks in the first round. The River Rats, meanwhile, went down to the wire with Saint Louis.

While the Fighting Saints deployed both of their netminders in the first round, neither Jose Theodore (4 games, 5.00, .843) nor Niklas Backstrom (2 games, 4.00, .899) held up especially well against the Portland attack – and the Rats have plenty of that. The River Rats also have the edge in veteran leadership on the back end in the form of future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer. But nobody’s scored more in these playoffs than Mikael Samuelsson, who had 9 goals in just six games.

Season Series
The River Rats had a much better regular season record, but the season series between these two teams was, incredibly, deadlocked at four wins apiece. Both succumbed to blowout losses on home ice and neither team managed consecutive wins in their eight games against each other.

West Virginia 6 at Farmington 4
West Virginia 2 at Farmington 4
West Virginia 8 at Farmington 2
West Virginia 0 at Farmington 3
Farmington 1 at West Virginia 6
Farmington 4 at West Virginia 3
Farmington 3 at West Virginia 4
Farmington 8 at West Virginia 2

Top Scorers – Playoffs

West Virginia

C  Sidney Crosby      7   3   8   11
RW Alex Semin         7   7   3   10
LW Thomas Vanek       7   3   3    6
C  Eric Staal         7   4   1    5
D  Brian Rafalski     7   0   5    5

Farmington

LW Mikael Samuelsson  6   9   2   11
LW Bobby Ryan         6   4   4    8
C  Mikko Koivu        6   1   7    8
C  Paul Stastny       6   0   8    8
LW Mike Cammalleri    6   4   3    7

Starting Goaltenders

West Virginia

G  Ryan Miller        7   4-3     3.05  .918

Farmington

G  Jose Theodore      4   2-2     5.00  .843
G  Niklas Backstrom   2   2-0     4.00  .899

Notable

– Farmington is clicking at an amazing 34.8% rate on the powerplay in the post-season
– The River Rats averaged an amazing 41 shots in the first round; unfortunately, they gave up nearly 39 per game
– Mikael Samuelsson, Mikko Koivu, and Antti Miettinen all scored shorthanded goals in the opening round, but the Saints also somehow managed to surrender five shorthanded goals against

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