Alberni and Nanaimo will be carrying the Vancouver Island torch as the BC Hockey League playoffs advance to final eight.
The Alberni Valley Bulldogs will be moving on to the next round of the BCHL playoffs after sweeping the Victoria Grizzlies in four games.
After the Bulldogs won Game 3 on Tuesday, April 4 by a score of 6-2, the Grizzlies looked to stave off elimination at home on Wednesday. However, the visiting Bulldogs picked up a quick 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Matthew Maltais and AJ Vasko.
Bulldogs forward Dakota MacIntosh made it 3-0 to start the middle frame, and the Grizzlies answered back with two goals of their own to cut the lead to one. But Bulldogs defenceman Emanuelson Charbonneau made it 4-2 before the end of the frame.
Victoria came out strong in the third period, scoring just 19 seconds into the frame, but Bulldogs Will Elger and MacIntosh sealed the game with two late markers to take the game—and the series.
The Bulldogs were the first Coastal Conference team to advance to the second round. This is the second year in a row that the Bulldogs have advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Last season, they swept the Cowichan Valley Capitals in four games before they were eliminated by the Langley Rivermen.
Meanwhile, the Nanaimo Clippers defeated this year’s edition of the Rivermen by a 1-0 score in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series on Saturday, April 8, in Langley.
Grant Babcock scored the game-winning goal in the third period and Shane Shelest stopped all 29 shots he faced for the shutout.
After falling behind two games to one in the series, Nanaimo rattled off three straight wins to eliminate Langley.
In Game 5 on Thursday, April 6, at Frank Crane Arena, the Clippers were 5-2 winners. Kai Daniells scored two goals to go with two assist in that one, Jake Hewitt had a goal and three assists and Brody Waters had a goal and two assists. Michael Craig also scored and Shelest stopped 19 shots.
The Coastal Conference semifinals will see first-place Nanaimo hosting the fifth-ranked Chilliwack Chiefs, as the league’s second round of post-season play is slated to begin Friday, April 14. Game 2, also in Nanaimo, goes Saturday.
The second-seeded Surrey Eagles will play the third-ranked Bulldogs after Surrey defeated the Powell River Kings in five games. Surrey will have home ice advantage, so Games 1 and 2 will take place on April 14 and 15 in Surrey.
In the Interior, the Vernon Vipers meet the fourth-place Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a matchup made possible courtesy of the seventh-seeded Wenatchee Wild, who completed their first-round upset of the second-place Cranbrook Bucks Sunday, with a 4-2 win in Washington state.
The Wild won the series 4-2 and face the regular-season champion Penticton Vees in Round 2.Follow @nanaimobulletin