Thursday, March 17, 2011

BCHL Coastal Conference Playoff Report:

This was in last weeks BC Hockey Magazine:

BCHL Coastal Conference Playoff Report

March 10, 2011 /

The opening round went pretty much as planned. There were no upsets, the series were short and now the top four teams from the regular season compete for a spot in the Conference final.

But for Langley and Victoria, the short series were a bit of a fa├žade as both teams found themselves in tough playoff battles, while Surrey was vastly superior in its win over Coquitlam and Powell River watched it all from the sidelines.

Now it’s time for the second round the road to the RBC Cup continues.

1) Powell River Kings vs. 4) Victoria Grizzlies

After getting a first-round bye, the Powell River Kings enter the playoffs hungry to start what they hope will be lengthy run to the RBC Cup. Led by goalie Michael Garteig, who finished the season with BCHL records for goals against average, at 1.69, and save percentage, at .934, a strong defence, and a capable Chad Niddery-led offence, Powell River enters its series with Victoria as a heavy favourite.

Only once this year did the Kings lose two games in row – at the end of a road trip they lost to Interior Conference leading Vernon and second place Penticton – so even if Victoria wins a game, you can expect Powell River won’t let it happen in back-to-back outings.

The Grizzlies made it through the first round after a five-game series with Nanaimo in which they were outshot in every single game. The difference for Victoria was quite obviously special teams. With the extra man, the Grizzlies scored 10 goals, working at an efficiency rate of 31.3 per cent, and shorthanded Victoria allowed just two goals on 25 opportunities (92.0 per cent).
They’ll be in tough to duplicate that feat against a Powell River team that had a league-best penalty kill this year, working at 86.7 per cent, and a power play that scored on 22.1 per cent of its chances. And, with the Kings only surrendering 1.32 even strength goals per game, scoring on the power play will be imperative if Victoria hopes to stay in this series

2) Surrey Eagles vs. 3) Langley Chiefs

With a second place finish in the regular season, the Eagles got an easy first-round draw against Coquitlam and made short work of their Mainland foe. Surrey outscored the Express 18-5 and won by at least two goals in all four outings.

The duo of Bradley McGowan and Richard Vanderhoek continued to befuddle the opposition as they combined for 11 goals and 21 points. Goalie Karl St. Laurent had a goals against average of 1.81 and a save percentage of .939 and if Surrey hopes to win, he will need to continue to shut the door against a Langley team that was the conference’s highest scoring in the regular season.

While the Chiefs did sweep Alberni Valley, the series was a whole lot closer than many had predicted. As has been the case all year Langley scored a ton of goals, 19 to be exact, but struggled to keep pucks out of its own net.

Langley gave up 14 goals to an Alberni Valley team that was the lowest scoring team in the conference (2.93 goals per game in the regular season). The Chiefs were also outshot in all four games, forcing goalie Wyatt Galley to make 193 on 207 shots, and will need to play some semblance of defence if they hope to beat Surrey.

- Eliminated -

5) Nanaimo Clippers

The difference in Nanaimo’s series, like so many playoff rounds, was special teams and goaltending. Nanaimo out shot Victoria in all five games, totaling a difference of 169-110 but just couldn’t score enough to keep up with the Grizzlies power play. Nanaimo scored two power play goals to Victoria’s 10 and that basically tells the story.

6) Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Although the Bulldogs got swept in their opening round series with Langley, it was more of an old school Dallas-Edmonton style of sweep than a complete whitewashing. Alberni Valley came in as the lowest scoring team in the conference against a Chiefs squad that was the highest scoring team, but they still managed to send two games to overtime (Games 1 and 4) and were only outscored 19-14 in the series. Casey Bailey led Alberni Valley with four goals and three assists but with Langley scoring nearly five goals per game, it was just too steep of an uphill climb for the underdog Bulldogs.

7) Coquitlam Express

The Express came into the playoffs as massive underdogs and unfortunately for Coquitlam fans, the franchise’s return to the playoffs went pretty much exactly how prognosticators had suggested. The Express were swept in four straight by Surrey and were out-scored 18-5. Alex Petan led the team Express with two goals and an assist but in this series, it was a matter of simply being overmatched.

8) Cowichan Valley Capitals

The Capitals had their year-end banquet in late-February and to no surprise gave the team MVP award to leading scorer Jordan Grant, who finished second in the BCHL with 89 points in the regular season. Troy Paterson was named Rookie of the Year and Top Defensive Defenceman while Alex Halloran was named Top Gun Defenceman.

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