Island Division playoff preview

No. 1 Victoria Grizzlies vs. No. 4 Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Regular season head-to-head: (8 games)
The Grizzlies won five of eight meetings, including two in overtime.

Of note:
With BCHL MVP and leading scorer Alex Newhook leading the way, Victoria may possess the most star-power in the league heading into the playoffs. Newhook became the first BCHL player since the 2015-16 season to crack the 100-point milestone with an eight-point performance on the final weekend of play. With other players like Rookie of the Year Alexander Campbell, New York Rangers draft pick Riley Hughes and the top-scoring defenceman in the league Carter Berger, the Grizzlies finished with the most goals in the BCHL. They also had the best penalty kill and the third-best power play. In net, Kurtis Chapman had a remarkable season, leading the league and finishing in a tie for third-highest save percentage in a single season in BCHL history with a mark of .933. He also had the fourth-best goals-against average at 2.52 and tied for the second-most shutouts with four.

The Bulldogs will continue lean heavily on 20-year-old goaltender John Hawthorne whose .918 save percentage was third-best in the league. Ryan Miotto led Alberni Valley in scoring in the regular season. After being acquired from Penticton early in the season, the second-year forward exceled with his new team, totaling 57 points in 49 games after the trade. The Bulldogs finished as the second-lowest scoring team in the regular season and will need Miotto and fellow top-scorers Keaton Mastrodonato (52 points) and Jackson Doucet (47 points) to step up if they want to outscore the powerhouse Grizzlies.

Final word:
Despite only taking five of three matchups in the regular season, Victoria is the clear favourite to win this series. With Hawthorne in net and having already beaten the Grizzlies three times this year, Alberni Valley could be the mostly likely team to upset one of the top contenders.

No. 2 Powell River Kings vs. No. 3 Nanaimo Clippers

Regular season head-to-head: (8 games)
Powell River won six of eight matchups, all in regulation.

Of note:
Ryan Brushett has been a huge addition to the Kings this year after being acquired in the offseason. The third-year veteran led the league in goals with 41 and finished second in points with 84. Powell River also got some good news on the injury front as team captain Ben Berard returned to the lineup after missing over four months due to injury. If Berard can regain his pre-injury form where he had 10 goals in 12 games, he and Brushett could form the most dangerous tandem in the league this postseason. Powell River scored the third-most goals in the BCHL in the regular season, many of which came from their top-ranked power play (24.9 per cent).

Scoring first will be important for the Clippers in the playoffs as they went 17-4-1-0 when getting the first goal during the season. Ethan Scardina (56 points) and Tyler Williams (55 points) led the way offensively for Nanaimo and will look to continue their strong play in the postseason. The Clippers power play was ranked in the middle of the league overall, but was a top-five unit on the road, which could be key since they will be starting the series in Powell River. They had the second-worst penalty kill in the league during the regular season and were last on the road, so discipline will be another key to their success.

Final word:
Powell River finished 16 points ahead of Nanaimo in the division and were competing for top spot up until the last weekend of the season, so they are the favourites in this series. Nanaimo was much-improved in the second half of the season compared to the first, so they will look to carry that momentum into this series.