Who’s the underdog now?

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John Browne
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Renegades look to pull off junior hockey semifinal upset against Capitals, advance to final vs. Breakers

The fifth-place CBR Assante Wealth Management Renegades are the underdogs against the first-place Avalon Roebothan McKay Marshall Capitals, but not by as much as you might think.
While Avalon won all four regular-season games against the Renegades all of the matches were close and it doesn’t surprise Capitals coach David Hutchens that the so-called underdogs are leading the Penney Key St. John’s Junior Hockey League semifinal series 3-2.

St. John's Junior Hockey League

Game 6 in the best-of-seven playoff is scheduled for seven o’clock tonight at Robert French Memorial Stadium in Kelligrews.

“They are not surprising us,” said Hutchens who noted there are a couple of factors involved in why his team is trailing at this point.

“It would be nice to get a lead for a change,” Hutchens said.

“They’ve jumped out to a one-goal lead in the previous five games and that’s a stat I’d like to see us change.

Hutchens said his team plays better with a lead.

“If we can get that first goal I think we’ll have a little more confidence.”

While the Avalon coach concedes having the number one seed going into the playoffs gives the team the status of being the ‘favourite’ there’s not a whole lof of difference in the two teams.

“It really doesn’t matter what you do in the past, it’s what you do in the present (playoffs) that matter,” Hutchens said.

“They are a great team. All of our (regular season) wins were by one or two goals and even going back to last years’s playoffs they played us really strong.

“Now that they are up 3-2 and we are going into the next game at their home rink, we’re the ones who could be considered the underdogs.”

Still, Hutchens said he’s confident his team can take the series to the limit.

Renegades coach Bernie Sweeney said there are basically two reasons why his team is having success lately.

One is that the team has a full roster for the playoffs unlike some games during the regular season when some players were missing because of injury or other reasons.

The other factor, he said, is the play of Renegades rookie goalie Mitchell Puddester.

“We just run with him and he’s playing great,” said Sweeney. “We’re also playing well in front of him. Everything is falling into place at this point,” said Puddester who added that the team’s fifth-place finish is a little misleading.

“Avalon has a lot more playoff experience, and although we finished fifth, we were only one point out of fourth and seven points out of third.”

Sweeney also said the first-round, Game 7 win over the C.B.N. MoorFrost Stars gave the team a confidence boost, “and we realized we can play with any of these teams.

“Guys are coming together and believing in each other.”

While Sweeney said it would be “awesome” to win the series at home, he pointed out they’ve actually got two shots at wraping up the semifinal.

“We’ve proven we can skate and compete with this team now and we’re having fun.”

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Renegades

Geographic location: Kelligrews

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