The J. L. Crowe High Performance Hockey program will see history in the making as the Major Midget Kootenay Ice get set to play the Prince George Cougars in the BC Major Midget League (BCMML) playoffs in the Ice’s first-ever trip to the postseason.
The Major Midget Ice moved to Trail this season from Nelson, along with the Female AAA Kootenay Wild, and both teams have seen rapid progress in its inaugural year as part of Crowe’s High Performance program.
The Ice finished off the season with four straight wins including 5-4 and 3-0 victories over the Thompson Blazers in Kamloops on Saturday and Sunday.
“The teams were out of playoffs and we knew that we were in,” said Ice head coach Kris Boyce. “But they played us hard, which was really good for us, all four games were really tight … It was pretty exciting hockey, and we just wanted to get the guys ready for playoff hockey.”
Prior to the start of the season, Boyce had two major goals for the Ice: to make the playoffs and finish at or above .500. The Ice finished in the eighth and final playoff spot, and went 18-21-0-1 for 37 points.
“Going into it from Day 1, we said we’d have to win at least 15 games in order to make playoffs,” said Boyce. “So that was our goal from the start, and try to be .500, 20 wins 20 losses, and we finished just three points below .500. We hit our goals, but we know we can go and beat the top teams so we’re not finished yet I don’t think.”
Kootenay travels to Prince George this weekend to play the 34-5-1-0 Cougars in the best-of-three playoff series. The Cougars dominated the Ice this season, but the Ice coach believes the Ice are ready to surprise the regular-season champions.
“We’ve been gearing up for them since Christmas,” said Boyce. “We knew that they were going to be the top dog, so every time we’d do practice we’d refer to them, we want to do things to beat this team, so I think the guys are pretty focused and ready, it’s just a matter of going up there and working hard.”
Kootenay and the Cougars face off at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Kinsman 1 Ice Complex. Game 3 goes on Sunday at 10:15 a.m. if necessary.
Female Midget AAA Kootenay Wild
The Midget AAA Kootenay Wild made a run at third place last weekend beating the Northern Capitals 6-4 in the opening match before tying them 3-3 on Saturday and falling 4-0 Sunday.
But the Wild also completed a historic season with its 10th win and 26 points good for a fourth-place finish in the regular season standings. With the top-two seeds, Greater Vancouver Comets and Thompson-Okanagan Lakers receiving a bye, the Wild plays the Vancouver Island Seals in a best 2-of-3 matchup at the Cominco Arena this weekend.
Game 1 goes 2:45 p.m. on Friday, and Game 2 at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. Sunday’s game if necessary is scheduled for 8 a.m.