In our final divisional preview for the Shaw BCHL Playoffs, we take a look at the Island Division where the top spot wasn’t decided until the final day of the regular season.
#1 Nanaimo Clippers vs. #4 Alberni Valley Bulldogs
Head to head:
Nanaimo won five of the seven meetings with each team getting one of their wins via the shootout.
The Clippers’ leading scorer this year was 20-year-old Josh Bourne who enjoyed a breakout campaign in his third year in the league. Bourne’s 29 goals tied him for the third-most in the league and his 58 points were 13th-best in the BCHL. Bourne seems to have a flair for the dramatic as he scored countless game-winning goals down the stretch late in games or in overtime. After battling an injury early in the season, Clippers forward Ethan Scardina also enjoyed a productive campaign, notching 47 points in 50 games.
The tandem of Devon Mussio and Robbie Drazner led the way for a highly-productive Clippers blueline this season. Mussio finished the year with 36 points and Drazner was close behind with 35. They also got key contributions from second-year defenceman Aiden Hansen-Bukata as well as offseason acquisition Trevor LeDonne.
Jordan Naylor had a historically good season in net for Nanaimo this year. The Aldergrove, B.C. native finished one back of the league record for shutouts in a season, finishing the year with six in total. He also posted a .935 save percentage, second in the league and the third-best mark all-time. His 30 wins was tied for most in the BCHL and his 2.02 goals-against average was second-best this season.
Ryan Doolin and team captain Mitch Deelstra led the charge on offence for the Bulldogs this season. Doolin had the team lead in points with 52 in 57 games, while Deelstra finished second in points, but led the team with 25 goals, nine of which came with the man advantage. In his third and final season with the team, Dawson Tritt scored a career-high 18 goals and put up 31 points.
Alberni Valley’s back end managed to produce offence for the team this year and this was highlighted by the performance of University of Maine commit Tim Gould. The native of Riverview, N.B. led all Bulldogs defencemen in points this year, finishing with 34 in 58 games. Other offseason additions like Jackson Munro, Moe Acee and Jimmy Rayhill also helped solidify the team’s blueline.
The team has relied on 19-year-old goalie Luke Pearson down the stretch as his goaltending partner Jackson Glassford has been out of the lineup since Jan. 22. Pearson has a record of 13-19-0 on the season, but has put together some stellar performances which have resulted in three shutouts on the year.
The Clippers won the season series by a wide margin and finished over 20 points ahead of the Bulldogs, so they are definitely the favourite in this first-round matchup. If Naylor can carry his regular-season play into the playoffs, it will be difficult for the Bulldogs to break through and get their offence going. For Alberni Valley, their key to winning is also in net. If Pearson is the starter for round one, he will need to perform at the level he’s shown he’s capable of at different points during the season.
#2 Cowichan Valley Capitals vs. #3 Powell River Kings
Head to head:
The Capitals won the series 5-3 with three of those wins coming in overtime.
The Capitals are the most-improved team in the standings compared to last year, jumping up 37 points and earning 18 more wins. A large part of that is due to their balanced attack, led up front by 19-year-old Luc Wilson. Wilson notched 53 points in 55 games this year, 31 more than he had last year in his first full season in the league. Returning players from last year’s team like Olivier Gauthier and Brady Lynn have been huge for the Caps, as well as new additions Primo Self and Matthew Crasa, whose 25 goals put him in the top-10 in the BCHL.
On defence, you need look no further than BCHL MVP finalist and First-Team All-Star Dimitri Mikrogiannakis. The 20-year-old took over as the leader on the back end this season and did not disappoint, finishing as the third-highest scoring defenceman in the league with 46 points, while playing in all 58 games. He’s joined on the blueline by fellow standout defenceman Tyrell Boucher who ended the season with 37 points, also finishing in the top-10 among BCHL blueliners.
The Caps struck gold in the offseason when they brought in 20-year-old goalie Zach Borgiel. The recent Merrimack College commit has been a rock for the team in net, posting a record of 26-12-3 and putting up the fouth-best save percentage in the league with a mark of .923. Borgiel also had the fifth-best goals-against average at 2.55 and tied for the third-most shutouts with four, all while playing the most minutes in the league.
In his second year with the team and his third in the BCHL, Kings forward Levi Glasman topped the team’s scoring list with 49 points in 50 games. His 22 goals were also most on the team. His supporting cast includes a pair of midseason acquisitions who’ve both made an impact with their new team in Brett Roloson and Devin Leduc. Roloson has 26 points in 33 games since coming over from the Merritt Centennials, while Leduc had 14 in 14 after being acquired from the Langley Rivermen. 16-year-old Michael Abgrall has also enjoyed a productive rookie season, finishing tied for fourth in team scoring with 37 points.
Four of Powell River’s top-six defencemen are NCAA-committed players, including the top-two point producers from the blueline Davis Pennington and Ben Wozney. Pennington, who is in his first BCHL season led the team’s defence in scoring with 32 points and his 30 assists were most among all Kings skaters, while Wozney, who is in his second season in Powell River, ended up with 26 points in 58 games.
The Kings made an important trade during the season when they acquired former Penticton Vees goalie Derek Krall. The BCHL veteran has put together a solid season for Powell River, going 17-7-5 since joining the team. He finished in the top-10 in the league for save percentage (.914), goals-against average (2.65), shutouts (3) and wins (22).
The Caps came within a point of winning the division, they won the season series and finished well ahead of the Kings in the standings, so they should be favoured to win. That being said, three of their wins against the Kings came in overtime, so this could be closer than it looks on paper. Cowichan will need their balanced attack to keep producing at the high rate they did in the regular season, while Powell River will need Krall to continue his consistent play throughout the series if they are to come out on top.