Thursday, March 08, 2012

BKN Aviators ~ First Round Preview Versus Danbury Whalers

From the desk of:   THE SKATES OF FLATBUSH



Best of Three:
*if necessary




#3 - Danbury Whalers

Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn


BROOKLYN AVIATORS:   Hello Danbury.  We Meet Again.

Brooklyn and Danbury will face-off in a best two of three series to open the 2011-2012 Federal Hockey League playoffs...; Again.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  Decades from now, when someone sets out to write the history of these two teams, the early years will most certainly focus on this two years young, yet very intense rivalry.  But why wait, right?  Let's do this now!

Word is there were circling complaints within the League regarding Akwesasne's overly-aggressive and highly physical play this season.  I know this much, none of those gripes came out of Brooklyn, or Danbury.  If anything, the Warriors are just picking up on a trend Danbury and Brooklyn started last season against each other.  But yeah, the Warriors have been a bunch of brutes this season; no doubt.  However, that's old hat to Danbury and Flatbush.  Their dislike was a mutual feeling upon their first ever face-off.  And so, here we go again.

Brooklyn defeated the Danbury Whalers last season to advance to the FHL Championship round; only to lose to the fore mentioned Warriors.  But they needed all five games against Danbury to get there, and then some.  They split the first two games in Brooklyn.  Then Flatbush suffered a crushing over-time road loss in game three.  With their backs to the wall, they won game four in Danbury to bring the deciding game five back to Brooklyn.  Regulation time ended in a 3-3 tie.  And so they went into over-time for a second time in the series.  Shortly into game five's sudden death session, Jesse Felten assisted on the game's winning goal.  And now, he'll try and lead his team against the Danbury Whalers again this season.

Flatbush and Danbury clashed ten times and split the season  series down the middle, winning five games each.  So they know each other well; very well in fact.  Entering Friday night's game, Brooklyn is 3-2 against the Whalers when hosting at The Hangar.  Flatbush has outscored Danbury by a 43-30 margin this season.  In fact, they scored six or more times in four of the five wins Brooklyn has over Danbury.

The Aviators got caught in a bit of a tail spin to begin the new year.  And Danbury capitalized on the opportunity to pass Brooklyn by in the standings.  Once the Whalers took hold of third place, they were never threatened by Brooklyn or Akwesasne the rest of the way.  Number three seed Danbury finished the regular season with twenty-eight wins and eighty-nine points.  Number four seed Brooklyn, finished with twenty-five wins, and eighty-two points.

Without excuses, Brooklyn has played through their share of ECHL call-ups.  Of the players remaining, centerman Jesse Felten leads Brooklyn's scorers with twenty-seven goals and twenty-seven assists, for fifty-four points.  Matt Moffat is Danbury's leading scorer with seventeen goals and forty-two assists, for fifty-nine points.

Danbury sports three other players with over forty points.  Greg Holt has fifteen goals and forty-six points.  Sean O'Malley has twenty-goals and forty-two points.  And Chris Siefert has twenty-one goals and also has forty-two points.  While at season's end, Brooklyn's other remaining top scorers were Casey Mignone, who scored nineteen goals with forty points.  Matt Atsoff had eighteen goals with thirty one points.

But Brooklyn has other players to consider in light of ECHL call-ups.  Lucas Schott has twelve goals in twenty-six games.  Nick Petriello has twelve goals in twenty-three games.  And Michael Thompson has nine goals in sixteen games.

In discussing the guys between the pipes, Danbury's starting goalie, Peter Vetri (l.) is all too familiar to the A's.  After the pair of net-minders the #1 New Jersey Outlaws platoon between the pipes, the Whalers' goalie was perhaps the League's best this season.  With twenty-one wins, he was third in the circuit behind New Jersey's Dan McWhinney, who tied for the League lead with twenty-four wins, along with 1000 Islands' Matt Anthony, who also had twenty-four wins.  Vetri came in second in the League with a .919 Save Percentage, and was number three with a 3.28 GAA.  Whalers' back-up Nick Neidert played in thirteen games with a 5-6 record.

Brooklyn's main guy in net is Josselin St, Pierre.  While seemingly not impressive as Vetri's record, in twenty-five games, St. Pierre (r.) was 12-9-2-0 this season.  He placed fourth, right behind Peter Vetri in GAA with a 3.35 mark.  His .903 Save Percentage also ranked just behind Peter Vetri's mark, and again was good for fourth best in the League.  He was one of only four goalies this season to have a better than .900 Save Percentage; keeping in mind, New Jersey boasts two of them, leaving Vetri and himself.

But Coach Miller is just as likely to start back-up Michael DiLorenzo as well.  Coach Miller gave his newly acquired goalie substantial minutes between the pipes down the stretch, as if to hopefully get him up to game speed in time for the playoffs.  He only has fifteen games played all season.  In eight games for Brooklyn, he was 5-2, with a 3.00 GAA, and a .915 Save Percentage.  In seven games with Delaware prior to his acquisition, his numbers are less appealing.

Friday night, Game One of the best two out of three series will be in Hangar Five.  Game Two, and if necessary Game Three, will be played before, what I'm sure will be a raucous, League's best, Danbury crowd.  The winner of this series will move on to play the winner of the 1000 Islands/Akwesasne series.

I'm expecting nothing short than an intense, hard hitting, somewhat chippy, but well played series by both teams.  While tempers are always liable to explode when these two teams meet, I think hockey will prevail and sportsmanship doesn't deteriorate too badly.  And if mood mismanagement does bring out the worst in each other, well, that's always fun too.

Good Luck to the Danbury Whalers, although I really don't mean it.  But then again, we need each other in order to create great moments in FHL Hockey.  I hope I did you guys some justice here.

And Let's Go Aviators!!


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