Final could be one for the ages

via Brockville Recorder

You can't ask for much more if you're a fan of local junior hockey.

The upcoming Central Canada Hockey League Jr. A final between the Carleton Place Canadians and Smiths Falls Bears truly is the best of all worlds for the local junior hockey fanatic. Not only are the two clubs the top two finishers from the 2013-2104 regular season, but their geographic proximity should make for an electric atmosphere inside the two rinks throughout the best-of-seven tilt.

On paper, this matchup is good for the league, as it pits its No. 1 seed from the regular season against the No. 2 seed, after both clubs survived highly entertaining seven-game semifinal series.

In the case of the Canadians, the final represents a chance to put a final emphatic stamp on a record-setting season that saw them rack up 54 wins and 110 points in 62 games.

Carleton Place also boasted a dynamic duo up front the likes of which terrified opposing goaltenders in the form of the league's leading scorer, Andy Sturtz (58GP, 51G, 53A, 104PTS) and second-place finisher Evan Peterson (60GP, 34G, 62A, 96PTS).

Other high-flying scorers for the Canadians included centre Brett DAndrea (62GP, 19G, 47A, 66PTS), left winger Stephen Baylis (52GP, 24G, 38A, 62PTS) and defenceman Kelly Summers (56GP, 17G, 43A, 60PTS).

The Canadians also had the top goaltending duo in the league during the regular season in Guillaume Therien (41GP, 2.51 GAA, .918 SV%) and Justin Laforest (27GP, 2.75 GAA, .896 SV%).

A big, physical and talented team, the Canadians took advantage of the smaller confines of their home rink to make things difficult for their opponent throughout the season.

Expect no less in the final.

But the Canadians also looked mortal in their semifinal with the Pembroke Lumber Kings, dropping the opening two games, then clawing their way back for the win after facing elimination down 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Pembroke.

Chances are, the scare may have steeled their resolve heading into the final, but it may also weigh on their conscience if they fall behind early in the series.

They'll face a Bears team that got progressively stronger as the season wore on and augmented an already strong core with trade deadline acquisitions such as Derian Plouffe and Chris King.

The latter has been a huge factor for the Bears in these playoffs, including scoring a pair of goals in the deciding-game win over Ottawa in the semifinal.

Though they lack the sheer top-end offensive clout the Canadians possess, the Bears have an attack that can find the back of the net.

Their regular-season scoring leaders were bruising forward Stefano Momesso (62GP, 26G, 46A, 72 PTS) and high-scoring blueliner Victor Beaulac (62GP, 21G, 50A, 71PTS).

Not surprisingly, the two are also the team's leading scorers thus far in the postseason with nine points apiece.

The Bears have also gotten strong goaltending in these playoffs from the tandem of Michael Pinios (6GP, 1.78 GAA, .943 SV%) and Cory Simic (6GP, 1.84 GAA, .941 SV%).

Perhaps most importantly for Smiths Falls, it can match its opponents size, with the Bears boasting a lineup with more than 10 players over six feet tall.

That size could be important throughout the series, especially when playing on the smaller ice surface in Carleton Place.

And fans in both towns are no doubt looking forward to this series, with the short commute making for the possibility that both rinks could be jam-packed with boisterous supporters throughout.

All things considered, it's a series to which any serious local hockey fan should look forward.

Game 1 goes Sunday in Carleton Place at 3 p.m.