Hockey in the area is wrapping up and has finally come to an end for the PJHL after a year that had some minimal concerns to deal with.
Issues that surrounded Covid-19 was’t the only issue the league faced but the main one was that of “Mother Nature” and the elements in the Fraser Valley.
Through it all the executive of the league handled this issue in a professional manner managing to not just move games around, but also reschedule cancelled games so as to finish the schedule.
The final round in the playoff series saw the first place Langley Trappers (30-9-0-2) finish with 68 points in the Harold Brittain play host to the White Rock Whalers (27-16-1-0) in the Tom Shaw Conference who finished with 55 points.
The league consists of thirteen clubs of which eight make the playoffs using the crossover system once the season comes to an end with the league champion presented the Ray Stonehouse Trophy.
The system is set up so that the top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.
Should the fifth place team in one conference have more points than the fourth place team in the other conference they would cross-over and bump them out taking their place.
To some it might sound confusing, but to others it is perfect and this season was interesting as the final was not finished until the season was completed.
This season saw Grandview Steelers and the Port Moody Panther in the Tom Shaw Conference miss out, while Aldergrove, Abbotsord and Surrey in the Harold Brittain miss out.
The Whalers first round matchup was against the first place North Van Wolf Pack winning in five games.
Next up saw them face the Delta Ice Hawks who finished off the Richmond Sockeyes in a hard fought seven game series that saw Delta pull out a 1-0 win.
Langley’s first round opponent was against the Mission City Outlaws in a five game series advancing to face the Ridge Meadow Flames who they managed to sweep in a four game series.
Say what you might about Junior B hockey, the final series attracts record crowds for both clubs and the final game in Langley play in front of a packed house with line-ups coming in after the start of the game.
While some were expecting a “chippy” game it was far from it as both teams played a fast paced, tight checking end to end game with both “tenders” playing exceptional between the pipes.
Langley finished off their series first giving them a rest prior to facing the Whalers that saw the PJHL final series take only five game series that saw them outscore the Whalers by a 14-10 margin.
Through the 14 games for the Trappers they notched 50 goals for, allowing 26 and collecting 235 PIM’s while in 17 games the Whalers managed 57 goals allowing 50 along with 281 PIM’s.
As one might expect many questioned the level of officiating and while some continue to question officiating, I can reassure everyone that the league utilized top level BC Hockey officials utilizing a four-man system.
Some were expecting a ‘sweep” but one just knew that this series would be far from it, that had many expecting a six of seven game series.
Game five was played in Langley at the George Preston Arena, formerly known as the Langley Civic Centre home to the Langley Lords in the now defunk BCJHL.
Should this series extend to game six the game would move to be played at the South Surrey Arena from Centennial Arena as they are getting ready to remove the ice for lacrosse.
The fast paced game saw Delta’s Chris Fortems give the Whalers an early lead at 7:22 of the first despite being outshot in the first 20 minutes by a narrow 10-9 margin with Langley taking 2 minor’s to one for the Whalers.
The sellout crowd proved to be motivation for Langley that saw them Cormack get the tying goal at 2:55 managing to stay even but only until the 15:42 mark that saw Svendson give the Whalers a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Despite the lead the Whalers played aggressive and managed to get tagged for three minors while Langley got only one.
White Rock maintained a one goal lead until the 4:08 mark when Langley Tong got them even on the PP while the Whalers were killing off a minor for slashing.
The game continued to be a fast paced contest with neither wanting to give up the loose puck and it wasn’t until the 19:25 mark of the third Langley’s Anthony Bosnjak netted what proved to be the game winning goal.
The crowd became electric and the remaining 35 seconds of the third saw the Whalers continue to press the Trappers peppering Gill.
Langley outshot the Whalers by a 33-23 margin through 60 minutes with each team taking five minors with Langley getting one on the PP.
Ironically in such a game it’s hard to pick stars, but in this contest all three were from the Trappers, while many thought that Langley’s Taje Gill and Whalers Keegan Maddocks should have been named second and third star.
Langley now advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup as the PJHL Champion while the Delta Ice Hawks enter as the host team for this year’s Junior B Championship.
Both the VIJHL and the KIJHL have yet to declair a league champion at press time and you know the championship will be exciting Junior hockey.
I should make mention that thanks should be given to the City of Delta as well as the other user groups who have pushed their season back so as to allow the Delta Ice Hawks to host this year’s championship.
Make plans to attend the Cyclone Taylor Cup with two games each day opening on April 7th and the final games played April 10th at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
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About Steve Erickson