Welcome to the March 17, 2018 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.
The second round of the BCHL playoffs have begun, and we’ll look at each of the four games from last night, starting with the games I got right followed by the games I got horribly, horribly wrong (hi Prince George!)
Vernon took game one in their series versus Wenatchee by a 7-1 count.
Yesterday, I talked about Wild goaltenders Seth Eisele and Austin Park and their potential to torpedo this series for their team. Park got the start in game one and lasted 40 minutes, giving up four goals on 20 shots. Jagger Williamson and Coleton Bilodeau beat him in the first period, Alex Swetilkoff and Niko Karamanis beat him in the second period and he had a seat on the bench for the third period.
The last time Wenatchee fans saw Seth Eisele in action was game two of the Merritt series when he gave up two goals on three shots in just over five minutes of action. Taking over for Park in this one, Eisele’s postseason nightmare continued as he surrendered three goals on nine Viper shots for a goals-against average of 9.00 and a save percentage of .667.
Karamanis scored twice in the final frame to give himself a hat-trick. Cameron Trott added a power play goal and Wild coach Bliss Littler is left to wonder who he should turn to in tonight’s game two. Eisele’s got to be having a crisis of confidence by now, and a playoff game on the road in Vernon is no place to rediscover your mojo. On the other hand, Park’s overall BCHL resume doesn’t inspire confidence either.
It’s very likely goaltending derails Wenatchee’s championship hopes for a second straight season. The rest of the league had better hope Littler never figures out how to find a netminder because that is the only thing preventing the Wild from going dynasty-mode on the league.
Meanwhile, Ty Taylor was Ty Taylor-ish, stopping 26 of 27 shots to improve his playoff numbers to 1.78 (GAA) and .934 (SP).
Game two is tonight with a 6 p.m. start time at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place.
On to Penticton where the Vees took down Trail by a 5-3 count in game one, proving my lucky orange socks to be completely ineffective. Never fear though. I have other orange items of clothing that I can wear!
This game went much the way I expect this series to go. The Smoke Eaters put up a valiant fight, but the better team won.
Braeden Tuck had Trail up 1-0 through 20 minutes and the teams were tied 3-3 through 40 with Tuck, Blaine Caton and Ethan Martini scoring for the Smoke Eaters and Jack Barnes, Wyatt Sloboshan and Taylor Ward replying for Penticton.
Ward’s fifth of the postseason came with eight seconds remaining in the second period, and Chris Klack’s go ahead goal came just 48 seconds into period three. Klack scored on the power play with Trail’s Kale Howarth in the sin bin for slashing, and Jordan Henderson’s first of the playoffs at 4:28 gave the Vees all the breathing room they’d need. Henderson’s goal was also a power play strike, with Troy Ring in the penalty box for high sticking.
Each team had four power plays in this one, and the calls are notable for what they were. Referees Shane Alyward and Bronson Tazalaar didn’t call much by way of obstruction, just a pair of interference minors. The rest were grumpy player penalties like high sticking, cross-checking, slashing and roughing. This must have been a fantastic game devoid of hooks and holds.
Penticton goaltender Adam Scheel was OK in the Vees net, stopping 25 of 28 pucks. Trail goalie Adam Marcoux was meh, stopping 27 of 32.
I would expect more from both netminders going forward.
This series resumes tonight with a 6 p.m. start at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Alright Prince George. Here it is. I may possibly have slightly underestimated your team. Or at least that’s the way it appears after the Spruce Kings throttled Surrey 9-1 in Friday’s second round opener.
That’s not a misprint. Sam Anzai, Kyle Johnson and Liam Watson-Brawn scored two goals apiece with Dustin Manz, Jay Keranen and Patrick Cozzi adding singles as Prince George skated to a ridiculously easy win at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
PG had 13 goals, total, in a seven game round one victory over Chilliwack and put five pucks in net during last night’s third period alone.
Mario Cavaliere had a forgettable night in the Surrey net. He was yanked after 43:26 and six goals against. All goaltenders tend to have bad games from time to time, but Cavaliere seems to gravitate sharply between really good and really not.
His save percentages in 12 regular season games were 1.000 (yay), 1.000 (yay), .714 (oops), 1.000 (yay), .870 (oops), .918 (yay), .821 (oops), .900 (meh), .833 (oops), .886 (oops), .923 (yay) and .932 (yay).
In the playoffs so far his save percentages have been .913 (yay), .906 (meh), .944 (yay), .946 (yay), .789 (oops), .902 (meh) and .846 (oops).
Based on this, Cavaliere is probably due for a 95 save shutout.
Evan DeBrouwer was his usually steady self at the other end, which is a big problem for Surrey. The high-powered Eagle attack was thwarted by PG’s buttoned-down defence-first structure, generating just 15 shots. Defenceman Jackson Ross was the lone Eagle to beat DeBrouwer, who now sports a 1.81 GAA and .928 SP in eight postseason outings.
I picked Surrey to upset Prince George in this series and I’m sticking by that. Sometimes a spanking like this is what a team needs to get their heads on straight and start playing the way they need to play. Chilliwack dialed up their physicality and found ways to beat the Spruce King trap as their first round series went on and the Eagles will need to do the same.
Playoff hero Matteo Paler-Chow did it again.
Powell River’s goaltender stopped 30 pucks Friday night, leading his Kings to a 5-1 series opening win over the Victoria Grizzlies at the Q Centre in Victoria.
Paler-Chow has been on point in these playoffs. He has had just one shaky outing in five starts, allowing four goals in a 6-4 series clinching win over Nanaimo last weekend. In his other four starts the Vancouverite has allowed seven goals on 162 shots, keeping his team afloat in the absence of injured starter Mitch Adamyk.
Paler-Chow may have to carry the ball for a while yet, as Adamyk isn’t even healthy enough to sit on the bench as the backup.
Meanwhile, reigning BCHL Player of the Week Kurtis Chapman had his first bad outing of these BCHL playoffs, coughing up four goals on 19 shots before getting the hook. Zachary Rose finished up for Victoria. The larger sample size suggests Chapman should be fine and this is just an isolated blip, but it does prove that Powell River has the firepower to give the Grizzlies trouble.
Five different Kings (Carmine Buono, Ben Berard, Ben Thomas, Carter Turnbull and Josh Coblenz) scored goals.
Like the Penticton/Trail game, I take a look at the penalties and salute the Grizzlies and Kings for a well-played free-flowing game. Of the nine power plays, only three were obstruction calls, two hooking and one interference.
That means there was no obstruction right?
And finally, who doesn’t like overtime winners?
Coquitlam Express radio play-by-play man Eddie Gregory certainly does and he compiled a great video highlighting each and every one of the extra-time winners from game one.
My all-time favourite overtime goal? Glad you asked. Vancouver’s Pavel Bure versus Calgary’s Mike Vernon in game seven of the 1994 Canucks win over the Flames.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.