Conference Finals Preview

We are down to the final four in the Shaw BCHL Playoffs with the Conference Finals beginning tomorrow night. We break down both series as the road to the Fred Page Cup continues.

Coastal Conference Final

#3 Nanaimo Clippers vs. #4 Langley Rivermen

Head to head:

Langley won the season series 3-1-0-0, with one of their wins coming in overtime.

Top playoff performers:

Nanaimo – F Sean Donaldson (11 points), F Keighan Gerrie (9 points), F Brody Waters (8 points), G Cooper Black (.947 SV%)

Langley – F Max Dukovac (13 points), F Riley Wallack (8 goals), D Joseph Messina (8 points), G Ajeet Gundarah (.929 SV%)

Breakdown:

Nanaimo has yet to lose a game all postseason, sweeping the Surrey Eagles in round one and most recently the Chilliwack Chiefs in the second round. While they have received timely scoring from their regular offensive producers, the key to their success, especially against Chilliwack, has been goaltender Cooper Black. The 6-foot-8 netminder allowed only five goals all series against the Chiefs, including a shutout and a one-goal game to finish things off in Games 3 and 4. Black leads the BCHL playoffs in save percentage (.947) and goals-against average (1.71) and has a perfect 8-0 record.

On offence, BCHL MVP finalist Sean Donaldson continues to lead the way for the Clippers. His four goals in the first two games of the Chilliwack series propelled Nanaimo to two huge road wins that set the tone for the rest of the series. The team also received timely goals from Keighan Gerrie, who scored Nanaimo’s only three goals at home in round two, including an overtime winner and a game-winner in the final few minutes of regulation.

Langley has continued its score-by-committee approach in the postseason. Max Dukovac, who led the team in scoring in the regular season, has continued that pace in the playoffs. He is up to sixth in BCHL postseason scoring with 13 points in 11 games. Meanwhile, Riley Wallack and his eight goals are tied for the league lead. The Rivermen have relied on their veterans to produce all season and they have carried that momentum into the playoffs with Wallack, Ryan Upson and Max Bulawka all near the top of the team scoring list. They have also received significant production from the back end by Joseph Messina who is fourth in defenceman scoring in the BCHL with eight points through 11 contests.

You cannot talk about the Rivermen’s playoff success without mentioning goaltender Ajeet Gundarah. The 2003-born netminder has been a rock for the team since returning from injury to start Round 1. He has the third-best save percentage in the playoffs with a .929 mark and has regularly made highlight-reel saves at the most crucial times. He has an 8-3 postseason record and a goals-against average of 2.33, which is fifth among qualified goalies.

Interior Conference Final

#1 Penticton Vees vs. #3 West Kelowna Warriors

Head to head:

West Kelowna won the season series 4-3-0-0 with one of their wins coming in overtime and another via the shootout.

Top playoff performers:

Penticton – F Luc Wilson (12 points), F Adam Eisele (11 points), F Bradley Nadeau (11 points), F Josh Nadeau (10 points), G Kaeden Lane (.933 SV%)

West Kelowna – Tyler Cristall (15 points) John Evans (15 points), Christophe Farmer (14 points), Felix Trudeau (14 points), G Johnny Derrick (.919 SV%)

Breakdown:

After dropping their first game of the playoffs against the Trail Smoke Eaters, Penticton has yet to lose, reeling off eight straight wins and most recently completing a sweep of the Prince George Spruce Kings in Round 2. The Vees led the league in both goals for and against in the regular season and have carried that combination of offensive firepower and stifling defence into the playoffs.

Luc Wilson led the team in scoring this year and is currently leading them again in the playoffs. Of his 12 points, 11 are assists and six have come with the man advantage as he plays setup man on the power play. The Vees have also gotten consistent production from Josh and Bradley Nadeau who combined to score the team’s first five goals in their series against Prince George. Goaltender Kaeden Lane has continued to frustrate opponents in the playoffs. His .933 save percentage and 1.78 goals-against average are both second best in the league.

On the West Kelowna side, the Warriors boasts four of the league’s top-five scorers during the postseason. Tyler Cristall and John Evans are tied for second in league scoring with 15 points apiece and Christophe Farmer and Felix Trudeau are one back with 14 points each, even with Trudeau having missed the first two games of the playoffs. On defence, Charles-Alexis Legault leads all BCHL defencemen in playoff points, racking up 10 in seven games so far. They also have the league’s Top Defenceman Award winner in Tyson Jugnauth manning the point. Between the pipes, Johnny Derrick has been consistent for them throughout the playoffs, posting a .919 save percentage and a 2.56 goals-against average.

As a team, the Warriors have won both of their series in five games, beating the Vernon Vipers in the first round and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in Round 2.