Sort of following the BCHL playoffs and there is further evidence in the results for claims about how difficult it has been for the Smoke Eaters – a team with talent beset by injuries and sometimes less than stellar defence – to make any headway because they competed in by far the toughest division in the BCHL.
All the first-round series are done, and all but one (eight of nine) game in the interior were decided by a single goal. Just no easy games in division play for the Smoke Eaters, who were on the wrong end of more than 20 one-goal or one-goal plus empty netters, decisions.
The series in the other two divisions had just ten of 24 games decided by one goal, which shows the disparity among the teams in those divisions, where most of the action is centered for those teams. Island and Mainland division teams just had a much easier road through the regular season than did Interior teams.
What also shows up the BCHL is just how valid the regular season standings are. Every second round set is between the one and two seeds in the respective divisions – not a single upset to be found.
It is similar in the KIJHL, with the exception of the Kimberley Dynamiters, who finished third in the Kootenay Conference but knocked off the top KC team, Fernie, to advance against Beaver Valley.
That circumstance gave the Nitehawks home-ice advantage for the league semis, and after Wednesday’s result they will likely be thankful for that. No idea who won last night, or whether I even made it to the game, but it is probably safe to say Nitehawks fans should be clearing their schedules so as to attend game five at the Hawks’ Nest Tuesday.
The Dynamiters have won four straight games against the top two regular season squads in the conference and are obviously prepared to compete every night – rest or no rest – so Beaver Valley may need all the boisterous support they can get a home (and on the road, comes to that – Kimberley is not a long drive and the passes are pretty much clear).
As the NHL regular season grinds on, and on, there are life and death matches right in the neighbourhood, reasonably priced for fan consumption. Can’t see why the Nest wouldn’t be jammed for every event the rest of the spring.