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2017 FHL Championship Preview

After a hard fought first round, the Mustangs and Huskies have once again risen to the top for a rematch of last year’s finals. Jimmy Besterci’s Huskies will look to defend their title against the top-seeded Mustangs and second year captain Sean Lyons.

The Huskies were able to close out a tough series against the Moose in four games, with all three of their wins coming after the end of regulation. After a very tight checking opening weekend that saw only four total goals in eleven periods of hockey, the Moose broke through for three tallies in game three. However, the Huskies remained strong and pulled out a game four win as Ryan Sabo batted the ball out of midair and past Jamie Zelena to send the Moose home early. Showing off their offensive depth and stout defence, the Huskies were able to come away with the victory despite not getting any points from league leading scorer Ryan Mains. Besterci commented saying, “Mains is a big game player. If he’s not showing up on the scoreboard every week, he’s doing the little things that help teams win games. He always faces the other team’s best player and somehow manages to come through in the clutch.” While that may be true, Mains will likely need to find the net a few times to help the Huskies repeat as champions.
In another four game set, the Mustangs bested the Pirates to make their second finals appearance in as many seasons, capitalizing on three points from first round pick Brian Grise and strong goaltending from rookie Chris Metzinger. While games one and two were marred by inclement weather, the Mustangs were able to battle through the conditions for a pair of wins, with Jesse Lyons notching both the first goal of the day and the game two OT winner. After a 3-1 decision for the Pirates in game three to avoid the sweep, the Mustangs bounced back to take game four 1-0, behind one of Grise’s two game winning goals. With the loss to the Huskies in last year’s championship in mind, we asked Sean Lyons what it will take to get over the hump this year. The Mustangs captain responded, “We as a team know that if we just go out there and do our jobs we have what it takes to get it done. If we all just do our jobs and take care of business, we can bring home the most praised trophy in all of sports.”

This is sure to be a physical, hard fought tilt, as these two teams know each other well, having met six times in the regular season. They played to a 3-3 split, with the Huskies winning the last matchup in week 15 in a game 5 shootout, led by a hat trick from Mains. The Huskies will undoubtedly rely on their wealth of FHL experience against the Mustang’s youth and speed in this championship rematch. Besterci is anticipating a battle saying, “You know what to expect from the Mustangs, they are a great organization and this will undoubtedly be a great series.” We’ll see how it plays out on the ice on Saturday. Now for some picks from the guys who are already home on their couches this year.

The experts have the Mustangs claiming their first cup in a 6-1 vote. Here’s the full list of predictions:

Joe Rogers: Mustangs in 5. It’s a really close matchup, but Pellegrino and Lyons are the best shutdown pair in the business right now. I think that’s what puts them over the top.

Nick Siniawski: Mustangs in four.

Andy McDonald: Mustangs in four. They have the best goalie this year.

Buddy Doyle: Mustangs in five. The better goalie is going to win it this year.

Dick Pilato: Huskies in five. Mains won’t go another series without scoring. He’ll be the difference maker.

Adam Cristallini: ‘Stangs in five.

Zack Siniawski: ‘Stangs in five.