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SHL Western Conference Wild Card Preview
#1

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Thanks to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Stampede, and a Chiefs loss to the Jets on the same day, the San Francisco Pride booked their ticket to the SHL playoffs, and will faceoff against the Texas Renegades in the wild card round. It’s the first time the team will enter the playoffs since S38, when only 8 teams made the playoffs, and it’s the first time the franchise faces Texas in the playoffs since they were the Portland Admirals back in S34. The team has gone through a considerable number of changes since they last played past the regular season, as has Texas, but the teams should make for an entertaining wild card series. Let’s have a look at how the teams matchup against each other:


Tale of the Tape

San Francisco Pride                       vs                       Texas Renegades
24-22-4                Reg. Season Record                26-23-1
12-11-2                      Home Record                      15-9-1
12-11-2                      Away Record                     11-14-0
2-3-1                      Season Series                      4-2-0
142                           Goals For                            157
142                        Goals Against                        156
24.26% (6th)                  Powerplay                    19.33% (9th)
79.17% (10th)                 Penalty Kill                   75.60% (14th)



Forwards

Texas:


Louie Garrett (25 G / 26 A)
Logan Jensen (17 G / 22 A)
Daniel Karlsson (9 G / 29 A)
Iam Essellemm (14 G / 18 A)
Noah Konn (14 G / 17 A)
Vladislav Konstantin (15 G / 13 A)
Andreas Kvalheim (11 G / 11 A)
Nico Gross (4 G / 15 A)
Conklin Owen (10 G / 8 A)
Mikey Pickles (0 G / 0 A)
Barnaby Picklesworth (0 G / 0 A)


San Francisco:

Jeff Brogen (19 G / 16 A)
Vince Reaper (12 G / 21 A)
Dionyz Vyskoc (14 G / 18 A)
Goku Muerto (6 G / 25 A)
Richard Metcalf Jr. (10 G / 16 A)
Steven Moyer (8 G / 13 A)
Leshaun King (12 G / 6 A)
Dakota Reid (8 G / 2 A)
Howie Dewitt (3 G / 5 A)
Ty Hoover (0 G / 8 A)
Kyler Gill (3 G / 2 A)
Cleo Green (0 G / 0 A)


Clearly Texas has an advantage up front, with players like Louie Garrett and Daniel Karlsson your team won’t often be outmatched for offense. San Francisco’s top 6 is made up almost entirely of players from the S43 draft. They’ve steadily grown together as a group, and now they’re beginning to step into bigger roles, but Texas brings veteran experience the Pride just can’t match. It’s easy to imagine the Renegades’ high flying offense taking over in this series, but they’d be wise not to underestimate the Pride forwards, because they do have game breaking potential.



Defense

Texas:


Liam O’Callaghan (12 G / 35 A)
The Dude (7 G / 25 A)
Harvey Danger (6 G / 26 A)
Chuck Crutchfield (7 G / 13 A)
Karno Gonkjaer (2 G / 10 A)
Pierre Laroche-Durocher (1 G / 1 A)
I Shattenkirksbed (0 G / 1 A)


San Francisco:

Charlie Schieck (8 G / 29 A)
Isak Odegard (12 G / 24 A)
Jack Tanner (10 G / 25 A)
Ray Bork (11 G / 18 A)
Fedor Shirobokov (0 G / 14 A)
Leopold Lockhart (3 G / 9 A)

San Francisco has a highly regarded defensive group, and they’ll be put to the test against the aforementioned Renegade offense, but Texas has a handful of stud defensemen to match with the Pride. Liam O’Callaghan has had a monster season for the Renes, putting up 47 points, which puts him a full 10 points ahead of Pride’s top scorer Charlie Schieck. Texas’ top 3 have put up 111 points versus the Pride’s top 3 totalling 108, but the rest of Texas’ D only total 35 while the remaining 3 Pride defenders have amassed 55 points. So the Renegades look to have a slight advantage at the top of the lineup, the Pride’s depth may be the difference.




Goalies

The goalies in this series are: Walter Hobbs (23-20-1 / 0.903 / 2.97 / 1 SO), and Chris Partridge (20-22-3 / 0.901 / 2.83 / 3 SO). Hard to argue that either team has an advantage here, since they both have stellar goaltending, but if there’s anything to consider here it might be momentum. Partridge rolls into the playoffs having posted all 3 of his shutouts down the stretch of the season, and his elevated play solidified SFP’s playoff spot. Hobbs on the other hand took a 4 game losing streak. I wouldn’t read much into that though, as both goalies are going to be wiping the proverbial slate clean before this series kicks off, and you can expect these stoic masked men will be bringing their A game.



Storylines

The series features several interesting storylines to follow; key matchups that could make big swings in the outcome of the series, or fake drama that doesn’t amount to anything. First up, former Pride draft pick, Logan Jensen, will be looking to spoil his former team’s playoff aspirations; it’s been a long time since Logan was drafted though, and he never actually suited up for the Pride, so there’s never really been much animosity there. Secondly, following the S45 SHL draft many people were shocked to see the Pride pass up on a player with the pedigree of Andreas Kvalheim, and while the Pride certainly wouldn’t change things now, there will be at least a bit of focus on these two players and the contributions they can manage. Finally, another pair to watch because of previous draft outcomes: Charlie Schieck and Noah Konn are two premier players from the S42 draft class, and they were both vying for Montreal to select them 1st overall at the S41 SMJHL draft. Konn has so far shown to be the better player, but Schieck may find it motivating to be matched up against Konn on such a big stage.


Texas Will Win If..

They can continue to be one of the more productive offensive groups in the league. Players like Louie Garrett, Liam O’Callaghan, Logan Jensen, and Daniel Karlsson cannot afford to disappear in this series. The Pride do have a strong and deep defensive group, but if the Renegades can keep pushing the play into the Pride zone then sooner or later the bounces will go their way. If the Renegades can mount significant streaks of high pressure zone control, then their offense should have no trouble finding the back of the net. Where they will need to be careful is respecting the dynamic transition speed that the San Francisco defense has, and not overcommit to plays. So long as they can take away the transition game of the Pride, the Renegades forwards should have no trouble outscoring the opposition in this series. Walter Hobbs will also play a huge factor in the outcome for Texas, and they’ll be leaning on him heavily in a winning scenario we assume.




San Francisco Will Win If..

Their defense can contain the potent Renegades offense. This season the Pride have made a living by suppressing goals, and if they hope to win this series their defense will need to continue playing lights out. Chris Partridge will, like Hobbs, play a big role in this series, and while the Pride will be hoping to suppress chances altogether, they have a ton of confidence in Partridge’s ability to back them up when needed. Jeff Brogen, Vince Reaper, Goku Muerto, and Dionyz Vyskoc in particular will need to drive the Pride offense, and it’s unlikely they’ll have a winning scenario without major contributions from these four. They will also need to outmatch the Renegades on special teams, because they have shown to have a slight advantage in that department, and Texas is one of the more penalized teams in the league. If they can continue to drive play through their transition skills, and have the backend lead, they should be able to replicate the success they had at the best of times this season.



Conclusion

This is the classic offensive team vs defensive team, as shown by the advantages the teams have in this series, but with a toss up in goal this thing could go either way. Both teams should bring a lot of energy to the playoffs, and fans are surely in for a treat, but trying to decide how this will play out is impossible. They match up against each other very evenly, and coaching wise they’ve both shown an ability to adapt their strategies well, so you might as well flip a coin for the purposes of betting. Right now the Renegades are only a slight favourite in Vegas, sitting at -175, so it’s really not a great series to have any money on honestly. These teams both feel like they have a lot to prove out there, so there’s going to be no shortage of players looking to make an impact. The series could very well go the distance to 7 games, and if that’s the case then Texas might get the final advantage of the series, getting to play that game at home.



Word count: 1400

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#2

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CURRENT: pride Uk raiders | ALUMNI: Knights Germany
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#3

Underestimated yet again.

San Francisco have always scared me, because Texas never seem to do well against them. Hoping we can use the home ice to our advantage.

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thanks to dankoa for the sig
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