by Joe Tasca on 04/16/13 at 10:00 PM ET
As the Plymouth Whalers prepare to square off with the top-seeded London Knights in the OHL's Western Conference final, Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci is playing the underdog card to a tee:
"They're the New York Yankees of the OHL," Vellucci said of the Knights during Tuesday's conference call ahead of the hotly anticipated series. "They're the top team, they're going to be very competitive, they have a tough building to go into with 9,100 people every night. There's skill on both teams. It's going to be entertaining for the fans to watch. We expect nothing but a great series.
"It's fun to play against them," Vellucci added. "They're the Yankees. They get 9,100 people. [London coach] Dale [Hunter] has coached in the NHL before [with the Washington Capitals]. They get more national TV, more media. It's great to be the spotlight. We're kind of always here in Plymouth off the radar. We have our one reporter who asks questions. For our kids it's cool to be in that atmosphere and be in that position."
As much as Vellucci is trying to make this series sound like a David versus Goliath matchup, the fact of the matter is Plymouth has 11 NHL draft picks on its roster, including American world junior hero Vince Trocheck and Ottawa first-rounder Stefan Noesen. The Whalers are an offensive powerhouse, having scored a league-leading 292 goals during the regular season. And while London led the OHL with 50 wins this year, Plymouth is arguably the hottest team in the circuit right now. The club has won 16 of its past 18 games.
It's perfectly reasonable to compare the London Knights to the New York Yankees. At the same time, it's not a stretch to say Mike Vellucci's Plymouth Whalers bear a strong resemblance to the Boston Red Sox.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.