By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The season has come to an end for the Oshawa Generals.
The Gens saw their year come to a close on April 15 as they fell short 3-1 in Game 5 to the Mississauga Steelheads, who capped off a 4-1 series victory with four straight wins.
After winning the first matchup of the Eastern Conference playoff series on the road in Mississauga, the Gens were unable to find their feet in the remaining games, losing Game 2 7-3, Game 3 7-4, and Game 4 4-3.
The inability to solve Steelheads goaltender Matthew Mancina proved to be a crucial factor in the series and proved the difference in Game 5 at the Tribute Communities Centre.
After a scoreless first period that saw Jack Studnicka ring a shot off the post, the Generals fell behind 2-0 in the second period with both Stefan LeBlanc and Trent Fox beating Kyle Keyser.
In the third period, Nathan Bastian would add a third to bolster the Mississauga lead. It would be captain Joe Manchurek finally beating Mancina off a feed from Renars Krastenbergs, but the late marker would prove to not be enough to keep Oshawa’s season alive.
The final buzzer marked not only the end of the Oshawa Generals season but the finale of three OHL careers on the Gens’ bench. Goaltender Jeremy Brodeur, captain Joe Manchurek and Medric Mercier, three of the team’s overage players, are all moving on from the league.
For Roger Hunt, the club’s general manager, it’s always tough to see the team deal with elimination, but the young team made some serious moves even after the trade deadline, along with the trades of long-time stars Anthony Cirelli and Mitch Vande Sompel.
Hunt believes the club has reached the point where the foundation of a solid team is now in place.
“You have to have the base of a good team before you can add to it and I really do believe we’ve got the real good makings and base of a good team,” he says.
And fans can expect a lot of familiar faces in the coming years.
“At the end of the day, the lion’s share of this team should be back and should be back for a number of years,” Hunt says.
The Steelheads now move on to face the Peterborough Petes for the Eastern Conference championship. The Petes swept the Kingston Frontenacs in four straight games in their second round series to move on to the finals.
In the Western Conference, the Owen Sound Attack, who defeated the Soo Greyhounds 4-2 in their second round series, await the result of a Game 7 between the Erie Otters and London Knights to determine their opponent for the conference championship.
The result of that match on April 18 was not available as of The Oshawa Express’ press deadline.