Monday, April 14, 2003

All right, it's time for the Hockey Blog President's Cup Final Prediction Contest.

I'll be publishing picks from beat writers, broadcasters, coaches and players from now 'til Thursday, so why not join in?

Post your prediction here: winning team, length of series, playoff MVP and, for a tiebreaker, combined number of goals scored in the series.

Grand prize to be determined: perhaps something unique from the Zamboni Rodeo warehouse, perhaps a President's Cup Finals souvenir, maybe even a pair of Dallas Stars tickets.

Entries must be posted by 7pm Thursday (April 17).

And now, on with the prognostication!

Josh Evans, Oklahoma City Blazers
Having seen Memphis in the first round and the ability of their special teams, they are strong. Mark Richards isn't playing outstanding, but he is making the saves he needs to make and he is certainly getting the offensive support. I like the fact that Seguin, Tallaire and Price are finally starting to click. Matt Barnes is obviously picking up where he left off. If Memphis takes advantage of its power-play opportunites, they will win. If the series is played mostly at 5-on-5, I think Austin will do fine. Ice Bats in six.

Greg Rajan, Central Texas Stampede beat writer emeritus and Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Memphis in six. The reason is because I like Mark Richards by a smidge in goal over Matt Barnes. I covered Matt during his first two pro seasons and have seen him this season. I think he's a great goalie (and guy), but Richards has a few rings and is more playoff-proven at the Double-A level than Barnes. Plus, I like Memphis' scoring depth with guys like Thomas, DiPalma and Gagnon over the Bats' STP Line-dominated scoring right now. It should be a tight series, but a championship coach like Shedden and the mental toughness the Kings have from winning last year and coming back on Oke City this year gives them the edge. And being from Austin, this is a very hard pick to make.

Chris Perry, CHL Underground
Bats in 7

Ken Richardson, Corpus Christi Rayz
Memphis in 5. Austin's not deep enough with offense, the only possible way for them to win is if Seguin, Tallaire, and Price turn it up even more. Legs needs to turn it up in playoffs too. First he has to take care of business with Lakovic, then walk away from everything except for standing in front of the net and pounding home the rebs on the pp.

Tom Schettino, In the Crease/Just Hockey
Austin appears to have shaken their early playoff slump, but they are going to have to be on top of their game against the RiverKings. All those OTs are going to catch up with Barnes. The key to beating the IceBats is getting inside of their defensive shell, and if there is a team that can do that it is the RiverKings. Look for a big series from Don Parsons, Jonathan Gagnon and Kahlil Thomas, but it will turn on Mark Richards. Austin is a fine club and their defensive crew from top to bottom is one of the best I have seen at this level. But I am going to stick with the defending champions in six.

Joel T. Lomurno, Wichita Thunder
Memphis in 7.

Lou Lafrado, In the Crease
If I am Austin I am concerned about the ease with which Memphis dispatched Indy. Austin showed early trouble with both NMX and LAR. They cannot afford that against the Kings. Memphis in 5.

Rick Dames, Rayz broadcaster
Austin in six - Matt Barnes has to go out a winner!! Great defense wins playoffs!

Jeff Bowerman, Fort Worth Brahmas
Austin in seven -- home ice advantage will come into play in this series that I expect to be very tightly contested. Although Richards has stepped up in the playoffs for Memphis, I strongly believe that the Ice Bats have the edge in net with Matt Barnes. McMullen's shaky play cost the 'Bats last year, and Barnes will make a difference. Offensively, both teams are loaded, with two excellent scoring lines. Austin has an edge depth wise on defense, with blueliners such as Mike Rees, Pat Brownlee, and Doug Johnson giving them the ability to match up consistently with the high scoring RiverKings forwards.

Jim Talamonti, Laredo Bucks
I think the Bats will have to play a lot better to beat Memphis. RiverKings in 6.

John Erfort, Odessa American
I'm going to say Austin. I think it's a toss up, but I just can't imagine that Memphis is as good as it was last year. And from what I've seen of Austin, they're just very impressive. They have everything a contender needs, and I've been so impressed with Barnes this year. I think he'll steal a game for Austin by himself and that will be the difference in the series. Plus I think the IceBats are just due.

Dan Weiss, Corpus Christi Rayz
The Ice Bats showed a lot of character to come from behind against Laredo, the best offensive team in the league, thus further proving the statement that offense wins games and defense wins championships. I like Austin's maturity (8 guys who've been with the team 3 years or more) and they know that this could be their last great oppportunity to win a championship with the core they have, which makes them a hungry team. Austin wins in 6.

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