After a long and exciting season, we have finally arrived at the main event, the Fred Page Cup Finals. With a combined four losses this postseason, the Coastal and Interior Conference champions get set to battle for the BCHL championship on Friday night.
#1 Penticton Vees (Interior Conference) vs. #3 Alberni Valley Bulldogs (Coastal Conference)
Head to head:
Penticton won both matchups between the teams, a 7-4 decision at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack and a 7-1 win in Alberni Valley.
Top playoff performers:
Penticton – F Bradly Nadeau (30 points), F Josh Nadeau (28 points), D Frank Djurasevic (12 points), G Luca Di Pasquo (.928 SV%)
Alberni Valley – F Dakota MacIntosh (22 points), F Brandon Buhr (21 points), F Will Elger (14 points), G Campbell Arnold (.928 SV%)
The Vees lost four games all regular season and only one so far in the playoffs, so they are the favourite coming in. In the first meeting of the season between the teams at the league Showcase, the Bulldogs had Penticton down 3-1 heading to the third period before the Vees stormed back to win by three.
Alberni Valley is a different team than the one the Vees saw earlier this year, having played both games against each other by late November. Starting Dec. 30, the Bulldogs won 10 straight games to find their game and vault up the standings. The additions of Dakota MacIntosh and Brandon Buhr before Christmas have paid huge dividends. They are one-two in team scoring in the postseason and have given their team the boost needed to take their game to the next level. In between the pipes, Campbell Arnold has taken over in the starter’s crease with Hobie Hedquist out with an injury since midway through their second round series against the Surrey Eagles. Since replacing Hedquist, Arnold has a 7-1 record and a .928 save percentage, tied for the best rate in the playoffs. Alberni comes into the series with the rare occurance of being both rested and tested so far in the postseason. They went the distance in a seven-game series against Surrey in Round 2, but also played the minimum four games against the Victoria Grizzlies in the first round and, most recently, the Chilliwack Chiefs in the Conference Finals.
For Penticton, their regular season success has seamlessly carried over into the playoffs. The team that went 50-3-0-1 in the regular season is now 12-1 in the postseason. Their league-best 39.1 per cent power play in the regular season is operating at 36.7 per cent in the playoffs, also tops in the league. And they are getting production from their top players as well. Bradly Nadeau, the league’s Most Valuable Player and leading scorer, is the top point getter in the playoffs with 30 in 13 games. His brother Josh is right behind him with 28 points. What has been most noticeable though is the play of goaltender Luca Di Pasquo. The Michigan State University commit had a very strong regular season, finishing as a First-Team All-Star, but he has even better numbers in the postseason. His .928 save percentage is tied for the league lead and his 1.83 goals-against average ranks number one among playoff netminders. Like the Bulldogs, the Vees are well rested, having played just one game over the minimum through three series, but they have yet to be truly tested in a series, dropping just the one game to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the third round.
- Penticton is the defending champion and are looking to be the first back-to-back winner since the Vernon Vipers won three straight from 2009 to 2011
- Alberni Valley has never won a Fred Page Cup and this is their first Finals appearance
- Penticton has won 13 Fred Page Cup titles (the most all-time), including three of the last six
- Penticton is making their 23rd Finals appearance
Click here to view the series schedule.
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Watch all games on BCHL TV.