March 21, 2017
It will be #1 ranked Cariboo Cougars vs the #4 ranked Greater Vancouver Canadians in this year’s BC Major Midget League Championship series, which gets underway in Prince George at 3:15 pm Friday, March 24.
The Cougars, who have cruised all year long at the top of the standings, finishing with a 34-5-1-0, 69 points regular season record, downed a determined North West Giants in three games at home over the weekend to secure their berth in the Final.
GVC meanwhile, bumped off the #2 North East Chiefs, who had been steadily climbing the standings, finishing with a 32-5-0-3 record, just two points back of the Cougars. The win puts GVC into the Final for the first time since 2008-2009.
Cariboo Cougars vs North West Giants
The Cougars battled a determined North West Giants in this one, winning the first game 7-1, losing the second 4-3 in OT, and then closing out game 3, 6-3.
In the pivotal game 2 on Saturday, NW Giants opened the scoring on a powerplay goal by Liam Kindree about 8 minutes into the game. But the Cougars soon answered, when Trey Thomas scored with 4:54 remaining in the period.
The Giants took the lead on the only goal in the second, on a powerplay marker from Justin Fodchuk.
Daine Dubois, who shared the league scoring title with Kindree, evened it up at 2-2 early in the third.
Kindree then got his second of the game to give the Giants another lead, with 6:24 left.
But Dubois answered with his second about three minutes later to force the OT.
Conner Westch would eventually get the winner in OT, and force game 3 on Sunday.
The line of Dubois, Thomas and Mason Richey were deadly for the Cougars, with Richey tallying three assists, and Thomas a goal and an assist; accounting for 8 of 9 Cougar points.
Cole Moberg got two assists for the Giants.
Game three Sunday started off with the Richey opening the scoring early, and Hunter Floris adding another late in the first period to open a 2-0 lead for Cariboo.
The Giants rallied early in the second on goals from Kent Johnson and Gianni Fairbrother (pp), to tie it at 2-2.
However the tie didn’t last long. Thomas notched the third with 13:18 left, and about four minutes later Ty Kolle added another.
Fairbrother gave the Giants hope with his second at the end of the period (0.6 secs left) to make it 4-3 after two periods.
The Cougars quickly dashed the Giants hopes of an early tie, however, when Floris notched his second, just 1:30 into the frame. Thomas finished the scoring with an empty netter to wrap it up, 6-3, and send the Cougars to the Championship Final.
As the number one seed, the Cougars maintain home ice advantage.
Greater Vancouver Canadians vs North East Chiefs
GVC opened the series with 6-4 come from behind win on NE Chief’s home ice at Poirier on Sunday.
The Chiefs had opened a 3-0 lead in the first on goals from Jonny Sheardown, Christian Buono and Jessie Young, before GVC’s Scott Atkinson scored late to end the period 3-1.
GVC’s Owen Williams closed it to 3-2 early in second, scoring the first of three.
Jessie Young opened a 4-2 lead around the half way mark, only to see Williams’ score again, to again make it a one goal game. Then with just 30 seconds left, GVC’s Nathan Kelly evened it up a 4-4.
Williams gave GVC their first lead in the game with 14:23 left in the third, completing his hat-trick. Noah Kelly finished the scoring with 5:06 left on an unassisted goal. Lukas Shaw got the win for GVC.
In game two Saturday, the Chiefs took care of business with a 7-3 win, to even up the series at a game a piece.
This time it was the Chiefs Hayden Delorme who notched the hat-trick, including two powerplay goals.
The Chiefs lead 3-1 and 5-2 at the turns.
In the deciding game Sunday, GVC would score first early in the opening frame, on the first of three straight by Scott Atkinson, who finished just a point back of the leaders in the league scoring race.
NE Chiefs Ethan Leyh tied it up at 1-1 early in the second, and the period closed 1-1 with no further scoring.
There was a ton of action in the closing period, as one might expect with the a ticket to the Championship on the line.
Atkinson started things off, scoring just 37 seconds in, and then completed the hat-trick to open a 3-1 lead with 11:38 left.
Henry Rybiniski then scored about a minute and a half later to open a big 4-1 lead, one that ultimately proved insurmountable, though Chiefs pressed hard for the tie.
Leyh closed the gap to 4-2 with 6:38 left; and then assisted on a Brett Didyk goal to make it 4-3 with 54 seconds left.
But GVC’s Sam Pouliot’s empty netter iced it, with 21 seconds left, to move the Canadians to the Final.
All games at the Kinsmen Arena
Friday, March 24, 3:15 pm
Saturday, March 25, 3:15 pm
Sunday, March 26, 9:45 am (if necessary)
The Cougars had the best goals for record in the league, notching 214 goals in 40 games – an average of 5.35 goals per game. Daine Dubois (Williams Lake) led the Cougars offensively with 67 points (27G, 40A) in 40 games, he was tied for the league title in scoring.
The Cougars were back-stopped by the tandem of Marcus Allen (Prince George) and Zack Wickson (Prince George), helping Cariboo to a league best 75 goals against on the season. Wickson had the lowest goals against average in the league at 1.70.
The Canadians are led by two of the league’s top four scorers in Scott Atkinson (Vancouver) 66 points in 36 games and Sasha Mutala (Vancouver), 63 points in 39 games. The team finished the regular season in fourth place (22-13-3-2), 20 points behind the Cougars.
The MML champion will take on the champion of the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League (AMHL) from March 31-April 2, 2017 in the Pacific Midget Regionals for the right to represent the Pacific region at the 2017 TELUS Cup where six teams, including the host team, Cariboo Cougars, will compete for the National Championship from April 24-30, 2017 at the CN Centre.
Road to BCMML Championship
Eliminated in QFs:
#3 Okanagan Rockets by #6 NW Giants
#5 Fraser Valley Thunderbird by #4 GVC
#7 Valley West Hawks by #2 NE Chiefs
#8 Kootenay Ice by #1 Cariboo Cougars