Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
'Gades get a first round bye
It will take a month to pass judgment on whether a first-round bye helped or hindered the Woodstock Renegades.
The Junior C team recently learned it would watch the first round of the playoffs from the stands after the Norwich Merchants decided to play the opening round of the post-season.
Norwich, which will finish second in the Niagara west division, could have joined first-place Simcoe and taken a bye to the second round.
Instead, it's the Renegades who will get to heal their wounds as they wait for an opponent.
"It's kind of shocking," Renegades' assistant coach Keli Corpse said. "I got the info today from Bill (McLeod, the Renegades' head coach). I can see what they're thinking. It goes both ways."
Take a bye, Corpse said, and you can lose your edge, but play the first round and remain sharp while risking injury.
Corpse was in the same position as a player with the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs in 1994. Kingston finished first in its division and chose the bye, but was eliminated in the second round by the streaking Belleville Bulls.
"It killed us because Belleville came in and they were ready to go," he said.
The Renegades finish the regular season with two games this weekend and will likely have two weeks to practice and heal nagging injuries. Cole Maher, Dan Phillips, Justin Pottruff and Taylor Jones are all battling injuries.
"Some are okay to come back but we don't want to push them back too early," Corpse said. "If we were playing the first round of the playoffs all of them would be ready to go."
As the top seed in the first round, Norwich will face the sixth-place team -- Aylmer or Paris. If the Merchants advance, they would play Woodstock for a third consecutive post-season.
"It'll be good," Corpse said. "We can throw a few practices in there and work on things. With Norwich being close we can drive down and see some of their tendencies. I'm new so I can see what kind of power play they're running and offence they're running."
The teams split six meetings this season and five of the games were decided by two goals or less.
"They're well coached," Corpse said. "I know (Merchants' head coach) Chad Paton pretty good and he was a good player and now he is a good coach. No matter what we throw at them they'll counter it pretty good."