March 18, 2019
BWC Midget Prep Playoff Results
BWC’s Midget Prep season came to a bitter-sweet close this weekend in Penticton.
After clinching the first place spot in dramatic fashion on the last day of the regular season, capping an 11 game winning streak, and finishing with a 30-4-2 record, BWC’s playoff run was cut short with a 6-1 semifinal loss to OHA Edmonton on Saturday.
BWC had entered the first round as the Top Seed in Pool A, along with #2 Shawnigan Lake, and the #7 through #10 seeds.
Each of the two top seeds played the same lower ranked teams in a three game round robin, with the top two advancing to the semi-finals with the top two from the four team Pool B (#3 through #6).
BWC started with a win vs #9 ranked OHA Red, then were upset in OT vs #7 Rink, before closing with a shutout vs #8 West Van to advance to the semi, with five points.
Shawnigan Lake (30-5-1) meanwhile, were eliminated. After starting with a 3-2 win over West Van, they lost to Rink (4-0) and OHA Red (3-1).
In the upset it was #10 ranked Yale, the lowest ranked team in Pool A, who came through as the other Pool A semi-finalist. Yale started with a 6-5 win over Rink, dropped a 7-6 decision to West Van, and then edged OHA Red 3-2 in a shoot-out to move on. They were the only team in the Pool who did not play the two top seeds.
Like BWC, Yale’s semi-final hopes were soon dashed, when they lost 5-1 to Northern Alberta, the eventual champions.
Here’s a game by game re-cap of BWC’s Midget Prep Playoff run, with some comments from head coach and Academy director Maco Balkovec at the close.
5-1 W vs Okanagan, 4-3 OTL vs Rink, 5-0 W vs West Van
Game 1, 5-1 W vs OHA Red
Wednesday, March 13
Round robin play had BWC taking on #9 Okanagan Red (14-18-4) in their first playoff game on Wednesday, which BWC won 5-1.
Okanagan scored the first goal but it was all Burnaby the rest of the way. BWC scored three times in the second period and held Red to only four shots in the third period.
Daniel Juca scored twice for BWC. Finlay Williams was 2A. Thomas Milic got the win.
Shots finished 39-19 for BWC.
Game 2, 4-3 OTL vs Rink
Thursday, March 14
The game against #7 Rink (22-12-2) was the only tightly contested game of round robin play for BWC.
Winnipeg-based Rink Academy got an early 2-0 lead but Finlay Williams cut the lead in half before the first period was over.
Carter Cochrane scored the lone second period marker to tie it 2-2 after 40 minutes, with the shots 32-25 BWC.
Williams’ second of the game, a power play marker midway through the third gave BWC its first lead in the game. But Rink clawed their way back, with Caiden Gault tying the game with 4:17 to go, to force OT.
Rink’s Carter Loney got the eventual winner, on the only shot in OT, with 2:42 to go.
Shots finished 45-44 for BWC.
Dante Giannutri got the win for Rink, with Koen MacInness taking the loss, on 40 stops.
Finlay Williams lead BWC offensively, with 2G. Six other players contributed points.
The loss set up a must-win situation for BWC in Game 3.
Game 3, 5-0 vs West Van
Friday, March 15
BWC regrouped for Game 3, beating #8 West Van (20-15-1) in a 5-0 contest on Friday afternoon.
BWC’s Ryan Suzukovich and Prett Pfoh each scored twice while Caedan Bankier put up 2A.
Thomas Milic made 30 saves for the shutout. BWC fired 47 shots at West Van’s Johnny Derrick.
BWC’s 2-0-1 record and five points put them in top spot in Group A, setting the stage for semifinals against #5 ranked OHA Edmonton (25-10-1), who finished 2nd in Group B with a 2-0-1 record.
Semifinal vs OHA – March 16 – 6-1 L vs OHA Edmonton
Though BWC was favoured in this matchup based on the two teams’ regular season records, OHA Edmonton had shut out BWC 4-0 in the only matchup these two teams played in the regular season.
That four-goal loss back on October 26 was the largest margin loss by BWC by all season. BWC outshot OHA 28-27 in the game but couldn’t beat Kanwar Gill, who recorded his only shutout of the season that night.
In the semifinal, the story was unfortunately similar for BWC.
Despite outshooting OHA 12-10 in the first period, BWC found themselves down 2-0 after 20 minutes. Another quick two goals for OHA put BWC in a 4-0 hole that they couldn’t play out of.
“We were chasing it all night long,” said head coach Mako Balcovec. “They brought everything, we didn’t capitalize on our chances, and their goaltender was outstanding. It’s a one game thing.”
Skyler Cameron got BWC on the board halfway through the third, but an OHA powerplay goal just over a minute later made it 5-1 with only eight minutes remaining.
OHA added an empty netter to win 6-1 and punch their ticket to the finals.
In the end, BWC outshot OHA 41-36, including 19-13 in the final frame but couldn’t solve Edmonton’s other tender – Jackson Berry – this time round.
While the season didn’t come to a perfect ending for BWC in the playoffs again this year, Balkovec takes pride in winning the regular season two years in a row.
“The playoff format is not designed for the top teams to win. It’s more to get maximum eyeballs on the most prospects possible in a short period of time.
“For me, winning the league two years in a row is pretty special. What’s most important for us is to showcase our players through the season, and get them opportunities for junior and college. This year we had four players, current and alumni, get fill rides to Michigan. Fourteen guys are moving on to junior – BCHL and WHL, out of this group.
“For a team to go from replacing 18 of 19 starters from last year, and getting 17 of them internally – to winning the league – that’s what we hang our hat on. It’s been a pretty special year for our program all year – to get two of four Academy teams to the finals (E15 and Bantam Varsity), is icing on the cake.”
BWC aside, the Midget Prep playoffs in general played out quite unexpectedly.
The other top two seeds – #2 Shawnigan (30-5-1) and #3 Edge (28-4-4) – were both knocked out in the first round.
None of the top three teams that dominated regular season play made it to the finals, which ended up with #5 OHA Edmonton (25-10-1) facing #4 Northern Alberta (25-8-2).
Although the two Edmonton area teams had finished the regular season within one point of each other, the Championship game was completely lopsided.
NAX blew OHA Edmonton out of the water 11-1 to take the Midget Prep Championship banner.
NAX scored in the first 12 seconds, then at 2:03 into the game, added two more before the halfway marker, and closed with two late goals, to make it 6-1 after the first.
NAX outshot OHA Edmonton 22-7 in the second and notched three more goals.
Shots finished 51-20, with NAX capitalizing on 5 of 6 power play opportunities.
Dylan Guenther (03) and Matthew Savoie (04) led the way for NAX, combining for nine points in the final game and 28 points between them in the five playoff games. Nine NAX players scored in the final game.
Ty Marcinkowski stopped 19 for the win.
BWC Player Stats (Playoffs):
Goalie stats (Playoffs):