Oklahoma City Blazers Hockey

Playoffs Tonight

Playoff Preview by Gio Pic

Playoff Preview by Gio Flamminio
The Oklahoma City Blazers will commence their much anticipated playoff run tonight at the Blazers Ice Center. The Blazers have been idle as far as game action is concerned, last suiting up back on the 1st of March, in a regular season finale vs The Rhinos of El Paso. To assume the Blazers are anxious to get things rolling this weekend would be a fairly accurate prediction. The club has only been able to practice after earning a much needed first round playoff bye. The 12 day break has not only provided the team with the advantageous opportunity to prepare for their divisional semi-final opponent, the Springfield Express, it has also allowed head coach Tyler Fleck to rest some of his banged up players and fully evaluate the condition of his roster moving forward. “I am very pleased with where we stand as a team heading into the playoffs,” Fleck said with assertion. It comes as no surprise that the Blazer’s coaching staff and players alike are filled with confidence. Their ability to recognize the depth of their team is what makes them very dangerous. When the Blazers are at their best, they are rolling 4 lines, 6 defenseman, attacking in waves. However when necessary, the mixture of experience coach Fleck has from his playing days and the talent of his players he has at his disposal, the ability to shorten his bench exists. The understanding and recognition of what is at stake and adjusting accordingly is something the Blazers are more then capable of. It is an extremely valuable weapon that countless hours of scouting, aggressive recruiting and efficient coaching have made possible. Hopefully the Blazers are able to roll in waves and have everyone contributing, however the luxury of being able to shorten their bench at any given time is an available tactic that may very well be put to use at some point during the series. “Whatever it takes to win,” said Fleck. “This is what we have worked all year for and the time is finally here to play for keeps.”
A cool introduction to the postseason this year for the Blazers was their inaugural sports banquet held Wednesday evening. Kole Hudson came away with the most hardware on the evening, snagging The Mr. Hustle award for consistently showing up and leading by example from a competitive standpoint. Hudson also claimed The Unsung Hero award for his clutch performances and timely contributions through the course of the year. Rounding out the evening for Hudson was arguably the most prestigise of honors. the Mr. Blazer award. This honorable piece of hardware exemplifies true Blazer blood. The on and off the ice influential representation of what the Blazer organization stands for; professionalism, class, dignity and pride. Congratulations to Kole on these deserving honors. The Most Valuable Player award for this year’s Blazer club went to starting netminder Jakub Krejci. The Czechoslovakian keeper’s award was voted on by the coaches, teammates and media, along with all the other awards on the evening. Congratulations to Jakub and all the other award winners on the evening.
The Blazers square of against the Springfield Express in the team’s first ever playoff series this weekend in a best of 3 affair. Springfield possesses some threats in a couple of areas including in between the pipes and with their depth up front. Bobby Dugan had a tremendous season for the Express in goal and will pose a demanding challenge for the Blazers this weekend. Springfield has numerous players capable of producing offensively and they are led by Montreal native Vito Devito. The Express forwards as a whole play a controlled, systematically sound game, patiently waiting to capitalize on generated turnovers and their opponents unforced errors. This combination of poise, discipline and stout goaltending, will pose the greatest threat for the Blazers in this series. Hudson feels the layoff has helped the Blazers in a variety of ways and feels they will be successful if their game plan is executed. “We need to use our team speed throughout each and every game as well as limit our defensive zone miscues,” said Hudson. “The past two weeks we’ve been able to consistently focus on d-zone play and our positional responsibilities as a team,” continued Hudson. The Blazers team speed and physical presence are both at significantly higher levels than their opponents. It is simply going to come down to who executes more efficiently and capitalizes on their opportunities. It should be one heck of a series as the Blazers look to move one step closer to their title pursuit.
The action gets underway Friday evening, 7:30pm Central Standard Time in Game 1 of the best of 3 series. Game 2 goes matinee style, with a 2:30pm Central Standard Time puck drop and if necessary, the 3rd and decisive series clinching contest will go Sunday, 2:00pm CST. All games will be within the confines of the rowdy, loud and electric Blazers Ice Center.