Friday, February 19th, 2010

Gades, Merchants set to renew acquaintances

The Norwich Merchants are about to find out if playing the first round was the right move. The Woodstock Renegades are about to find out if they are healthy enough and focused enough after sitting for almost three weeks.

Answers will start to come tonight when the latest chapter in the Battle of 59 begins at the Nor-Del Arena.

The Oxford County rivals will meet at 8 p.m. for the first of three games this weekend. It's the third time Woodstock and Norwich have met in the post-season in the last four years.

Norwich won in 2006-07 when Woodstock was still the Navy Vets, and last year, holding on for a tight six-game victory.

If the regular season was any indication, this series will be much closer than the Merchants' first-round sweep of Paris.

The teams split six games this season. Woodstock won the first two meetings, Norwich took the next three, and Woodstock won the last game Jan. 2.

Five of the games were decided by two goals or less.

While Norwich completed its sweep of Paris last weekend without suffering any injuries, the rested Renegades haven't played since Jan. 30.

Woodstock received a firstround bye when Norwich decided to play, which gave the Renegades time to heal numerous injuries. It will be important for the Renegades to find their game legs early and avoid falling behind in the series, which continues Saturday in Woodstock and Sunday afternoon in Norwich.

The Merchants will try to maintain their momentum and take advantage of the inactive Renegades.

Mike Rebry was the firstround hero for Norwich, scoring seven goals in four games. Chad Barclay matched Rebry with eight points, while Norwich's depth was evident as nine different players scored and 16 players registered at least one point.

Woodstock will rely on captain Cole Maher to continue his strong regular season, as well as Niagara west Rookie of the Year Jordan Minello and second-year forwards Travis Horvath and Tyler Labadie.

Goaltender Alex Gegeny has been a Merchant killer this season and will have to steal a game or two.


Niagara west semifinal schedule: Norwich vs. Woodstock

Game 1 @ Norwich (Friday 8 p.m.)

Game 2 @ Woodstock (Saturday 7:45 p.m.)

Game 3 @ Norwich (Sunday 2 p.m.)

Game 4 @ Woodstock (Feb. 26 7:45 p.m.)

Game 5 @ Norwich (Feb. 27 7:30 p.m.)

Game 6 @ Woodstock (NA)

Game 7 @ Norwich (NA)


(Source Sentinel-Review)