2014 Playoffs First Round Recap


2014 Playoffs: First Round Recap

March 24th, 2014

Warriors beat defending champs 7-3 to reach Round 2

In a daunting playoff series with the Lakehead Ice Holes, the Warriors were resilient in securing a second-round matchup against the Toronto Red Devils, and showed what the playoffs are all about.

“Their approach and the belief in the room, and each other, was there,” said Warriors coach Mike Brunetta. “It was a strong season and we had to find a way. I think beating the defending Stanley Cup champions gives us the momentum we need to beat the Red Devils in the second round.”

The sellout crowd of 22,103 roared at the final buzzer on Sunday night and Warriors goaltender Jimmy Howard was mobbed by his delirious teammates at one end of the ice.

At the other end of the ice, Lakehead goaltender  Jonathan Quick put his arm around defenseman Brian Campbell, who was down on one knee, and tried to console him while the Warriors celebrated.

“They’re a very talented group,” Lakehead coach Jason Briggs said. “You have to give the Warriors credit. They’re a well-coached team, they keep coming at you. Each game could have gone the other way. But we have to be proud of ourselves in this locker room for being able to keep it close.”

After a seesaw series with all sorts of twists and turns, North Bay moves on to face Toronto is what is expected to be the most high scoring series of the playoffs. 


Vipers eliminate Xtreme 6-3, set up series vs. Wolfpack

The third-seeded Victoria Vipers advanced to face the No. 2 Washington Wolfpack despite losing the majority of goaltending categories in their decisive first round victory over the Montreal Xtreme.

”We really came together,” said Montreal goaltender Roberto Luongo who made 72 saves in the series. ”I hope we can bring more next year. We found out what it takes to be successful. Great character in this room. I like where we are headed.”

The Xtreme made the playoffs this year for the first time in franchise history and they showed no signs of nervousness or that the moment was too big for them, despite the lack of playoff experience throughout the roster.

Despite falling behind early, the Xtreme kept the pressure on the Vipers throughout the entire series, and during the final games they spent a large chunk of time in the Victoria end – largely in the corners and behind the net – and kept the matchup close.

“It hurts to be knocked out of the playoffs,” said Xtreme Forward Corey Perry, who was teary-eyed in the locker room after the game on Sunday night. ”If we had a little more time, we could have rallied like we have many times before in the regular season.”

As the Vipers celebrated at the final buzzer, Perry was showered with chants of ”M-V-P, M-V-P” one day after he was announced as a finalist for the AFHL Hart Trophy.

But Alex Ovechkin, also one of the Hart finalists, helped the Vipers hang on to the lead and advance into the second round.

”We did a great job getting off to a good start, and then we protected it there at the end,” said Ovechkin, who scored his 45th goal of the year in the series. ”A lot of us have been in tough situations like this before, so we knew how to play this type of game.”

Victoria faces second-seeded Washington in the second round.

”Montreal had us on the ropes a few times and we’re glad we’re done with them,” Vipers coach Chris Hartley said. ”Thrilled to be advancing. The belief in here is still we can play with anybody so bring on Washington!”


Red Devils’ tidal wave washes away the Mustangs

When it was done and the Toronto Red Devils had brushed aside the valiant but ultimately overmatched London Mustangs, one word came to mind to describe the series: devastating.

In a matchup that built slowly to yet another impressive offensive crescendo, the Red Devils once again flashed all of their considerable credentials in crushing the Mustangs 8-2 to advance to the second round of the 2014 AFHL Playoffs.

“We were playing probably the best team in the league, and we were trying and trying, but we paid for every little mistake, and that’s why they are where they are, and we’re standing here,” said Mustangs forward Claude Giroux on Sunday night.

He said he can’t recall facing a team as dangerous.

“Probably not since back in the days when I played the video game,” he said.

London coach Matt Plachta added that his team had learned from the Red Devils about what it takes to get to the next level.

“They really had us on our heels for almost every game,” Plachta said. “I think we really got a little bit of a lesson of what it really takes to continue to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs from a very good team.”

“I hope they don’t bill us for the clinic,” Plachta quipped. “They didn’t step off the pedal one time, and that’s what it takes.”

If the North Bay Warriors watched the highlights, one couldn’t blame them for shuddering at the surgical precision the Red Devils displayed in the opening round of the playoffs.

“I think the depth we have showed,” said Red Devils forward Steven Stamkos who scored 7 points in the matchup. “Different guys chipping in, from top to bottom it was a group effort. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going into the second round vs. North Bay.”


Wolfpack thwart Phantoms to advance to second round

The Washington Wolfpack expected desperation.

Instead, the listless Buffalo Phantoms offered little more than resignation.

Swarming the Phantoms from the opening faceoff, Washington roared to a 10-1 victory in the first round of the AFHL Playoffs.

Jarome Iginla scored five goals in the series as the Wolfpack capped a seven-day onslaught against Sidney Crosby and the Buffalo Phantoms.

“We gave them the respect they deserved and we came out and I think we surprised ourselves,” Iginla said. “We played with a lot of speed and got it behind them and got to the net.”

And more importantly, into the net.

Matt Moulson, Joe Thornton, Patrice Bergeron, Matt Cooke, Ales Hemsky and Brent Burns also scored, and Tukkaa Rask posted a 1.50 GAA to help top-seeded Washington advance to face the Victoria Vipers in the second round.

“We gave them too many freebie chances and you’re not going to beat a team like that when they get as many chances as they had,” Buffalo forward Sidney Crosby said. “All I can say is it’s been a great year in terms of the group we’ve had, the adversity we’ve faced. We became a tight group and stuck together throughout.”

As fabulously as Washington against the Phantoms, coach Rick Charron believes his team’s best hockey lay ahead.

“It’s something we talked about from Day 1 and each day and each game and you definitely saw it throughout this series,” he said. “From Game 1 we liked the way we were playing and we weren’t down and it showed.”

Categories : afhl


  1. London GM Matt Plachta says:

    What a beating. Well won though.
    Good luck to all that remain.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The Amazing Fantasy Hockey League (AFHL) is a lifetime keeper fantasy hockey league that consists of 20 franchised teams, of which 10 are located in Canada, and 10 are located in the United States. The AFHL is in no way shape or form affiliated with the NHL or the NHLPA and all teams logos and players names are their property.