Ones to Watch: Play-off Quarter Finals

J.J. Piccinich, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)
J.J. Piccinich, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)

The Play-offs begin this weekend so here we will look at some of the players to watch for each side.

We’ll go through each side and pick one player who could help their side progress onwards.

Related: Elite League play-off match-ups preview

Belfast:

There are many names that could be said for the Giants, but one sticks out and that’s J.J. Piccinich.

J.J. Piccinich of the Belfast Giants tops the Elite League in goals and assists (Image: William Cherry)
J.J. Piccinich, Belfast Giants (PHOTO: William Cherry)

He’s the League’s top scorer for points (80) and goals (35) he is also joint top with fellow Giant Scott Conway for assists (45).

The American has wowed fans with consistently good performances and could prove a difference maker for the Champs.

Sheffield:

Another side with many names to choose from, but it’s between Robert Dowd and Marc-Olivier Vallerand.

Both have had impressive seasons on paper with Dowd scoring 54 points and Vallerand grabbing 59.

Vallerand edges it as he has played nine games less than Dowd and has only scored three less goals.

Marc-Olivier Vallerand, Sheffield Steelers (Image:
Marc-Olivier Vallerand (PHOTO: Sheffield Steelers)

He has been consistent for the Steelers and is a fan favourite already.

Rok Stojanovic deserves a shout as well for a strong season in goal.

Cardiff Devils:

Another side who’s netminder could make this list, it’s hard to call who has been more important.

The Devils have benefitted from a strong D-line, including the likes of Mark Richardson, Matthew Register and Josh Batch.

They also have probably the best stats goalie in the league in Mac Carruth.

Both Brodie Reid and Justin Crandall have been omnipresent in the scoring charts as well.

It goes to Carruth though, the man between the pipes has shown time and again he can make the difference for his side.

Mac Curruth in action for the Devils (PHOTO: Cardiff Devils)

The goals are guaranteed up the other end, but without Carruth they almost certainly wouldn’t have been as solid as they have been.

Nottingham:

If Kevin Carr wasn’t injured he could make this list, but he unfortunately is not available for the Panthers.

His replacement Will Kerlin hasn’t blown anyone away as of yet, but he’s 21 and has played seven games so that’s absolutely to be expected.

It’s worth noting he has been good for Team GB at U20s and U18s level so could prove a difference maker.

However, it’s Christophe Boivin who’s been the talisman for this side.

Christophe Boivin scoring against the Steelers (PHOTO: Karl Denham)

His 55 points are the highest in the side and he can provide a threat across the ice.

Guildford:

Another strong goalie showing from Kevin Lindskoug, the Swede has some impressive stats for a side sat in fifth.

Kevin Lindskoug (PHOTO: Planet of Hockey)

A Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.93 and save percentage of 91% put him as one of this seasons top goalies.

He’s top four for minutes played having skated for over 2800 minutes for the Flames in the regular season.

His three shutouts put him joint fourth for that statistic, showing his quality in between the pipes.

Having faced over 1500 shots he’s only let in the 140 goals, just the one more than Nottingham’s Carr.

Glasgow:

It’s another goalie for this list as Shane Starrett joins the fray, a 3.2 GAA and 91% save percentage is impressive numbers for the American.

The  Braehead Arena, home of Glasgow Clan (PHOTO: Glasgow Clan)

He’s faced 1791 shots in his 53 games this season and has been omnipresent between the sticks for the Clan.

He’s been solid all season and him versus Carruth is going to be an interesting prospect.

Dundee:

There’s no denying it’s not been a great season for Dundee but that doesn’t mean they haven’t had standout players.

Sebastian Bengtsson has been one such player for Omar Pacha’s side.

Omar Pacha (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

60 points in 51 games is an impressive tally for the Swede and he could prove crucial in his sides clash against Sheffield.

Coventry:

It’s hard to say anyone but Luke Ferrara, he was his side’s top goal scorer and has been fantastic this season.

On top of this he does see himself included in the reserves for Team GB, not quite as good as last year’s Worlds but an honour, nonetheless.

Luke Ferrara (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

He sits 10th in goals scored right behind Vallerand and 49 points in 52 games puts him in a great position to cause some damage.

He’ll want to continue being a threat for his team as they face the league champions on the weekend.

Let us know who you think will be the difference makers on our Twitter @BritIceHockey.

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