By Brian Lester
The Ontario Avalanche were a much better hockey team in the second half of the Western States Hockey League season. They stormed through the month of January, winning 10 of 12 games to get themselves back on track.
While that momentum slowed a bit in February, head coach Chris Shaw was pleased with where his team stood going into the postseason. Ontario finished 22-15-4-2 and in fourth place in the Western Division. That put the team at home for the division quarterfinals. They won Game 1, 4-0, over the Las Vegas Storm.
“We’ve managed to turn it around over the last month and a half or so,” Shaw said. “But the adversity we have gone through has been a good thing. I think we have handled it well.”
Antoine Maillard was the regular season leader in points for the Avalanche. He came through with 31 goals and 36 assists for 67 points. Mailliard had a goal and an assist in the first playoff game. He was one point ahead of Michael Thomas, who tallied 28 goals and dished out 38 assists for 66 points. Thomas scored a goal in Game 1 against the Storm.
During the regular season, Zechariah Roberts had 22 goals and 38 assists (60 points). Nick Anderson also shined, racking up 19 goals and 32 assists for 51 regular season points.
“It took us time to gel as a team because we do have a lot of older players and some of those guys weren’t getting as many minutes as they were used to,” Shaw said. “But they’ve really come together as a team. They understand it’s important to have four good lines if you want to win games.”
Ontario is hoping to play at a high level in the postseason after making a run to the conference finals last year.
“I’d like to think we can be one of the better teams in the playoffs,” Shaw said. “We have good depth and this is probably the best roster I’ve had in my time here. We have the talent to make noise in the playoffs. It’s just a matter of playing our best.”
Watch the Avalanche and all of the WSHL playoff action live online at www.FastHockey.com (subscription fees apply).
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