Pat Payton, Gazette sports editor
There are now just 12 teams left in the running for the J.T. Sutherland Cup, and one of them is the Stratford Cullitons.
The fifth-place Cullitons will play the first-place Caledonia Corvairs in the Midwestern Conference semi-finals after disposing of Waterloo Siskins in six games in the quarter-finals.
Second-place Cambridge Winter Hawks will meet third-place Kitchener Dutchmen in the other Midwest semi-final.
The Cullitons-Corvairs’ series begins this Thursday in Caledonia, with Game 2 Friday in Stratford. Game 3 is Sunday in Caledonia, with Game 4 Monday, March 18 at the Allman Arena. All are 7:30 p.m. face-offs.
Corvairs had a tough quarter-final against Brampton, finally knocking off the Bombers in six games.
“Caledonia has a good hockey team, there’s no arguing that,” Cullitons’ coach Phil Westman said this week. “I think they won four of the six (during the regular schedule) against us.
“For most of the season, we were a seventh-place hockey club, so we’re definitely the underdog. Sometimes that’s nice . . . there’s no pressure on us. They had a tough series with Brampton, so they’re probably a little worn, too.”
Following the physical series with the rival Siskins, Westman welcomed the six-day rest for his squad before meeting the Corvairs this week.
Stratford went 0-for-3 in Caledonia during the regular schedule.
• Winger Shane O’Brien led Cullitons in scoring in the Waterloo series with three goals and nine points in six games. He put the final nail in the Siskins’ coffin with an empty-netter in Game 6 last Friday.
Veteran centre Jared Culliton led Stratford in goals, with four, in the series.
Cullitons held Waterloo to 2-for-32 on the powerplay in the series. Siskins did not score a goal with the man advantage after Game 2.
Stratford went 3-for-28 with the man advantage.
• Cullitons’ captain Andrew Barton is expected to miss part of the semi-final series against Caledonia with an upper-body injury.
The 20-year-old Stratford native was injured in Thursday’s Game 5 in Waterloo after taking a hit from Siskins’ defenceman Trevor Atkinson.
• In the Western Conference semi-finals, first-place Chatham Maroons are playing the sixth-place Strathroy Rockets, and the defending champion London Nationals, who finished fourth, are playing the second-place Leamington Flyers.
In the Golden Horseshoe loop, first-place St. Catharines will meet Thorold after the fifth-place Blackhawks knocked off Niagara Falls Canucks in seven games. In the other semi-final, second-place Port Colborne Pirates face third-place Welland Jr. Canadians.
• Former Culliton Craig Dalrymple (2008-10) has been named CCHA Gladiator Defenceman of the Week, the league announced last Monday.
Dalrymple, a freshman with the Ohio State men’s hockey team, had three points, blocked six shots and was a plus 2 in the Buckeyes’ series split at No. 3 Miami of Ohio last weekend to close out the regular season.
On Friday, Dalrymple had an assist in the Buckeyes’ 3-0 victory before posting his first career multiple-point game Saturday with a goal and an assist.
The 21-year-old from Kippen, who has a howitzer for a shot, has played in all 36 Buckeye games. He leads Ohio State’s defencemen and freshmen with 14 points, including 11 assists.