Junior B playoffs
Merch Madness started Friday for the St. Albert Merchants in the Capital junior B Hockey League playoffs.
The series opener against the Stony Plain Flyers in the best-of-three west division qualifying round was played at Akinsdale Arena and the score was unavailable at press time.
Game two is 8 p.m. Sunday at Glenn Hall Centennial Arena and game three, if needed, is 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Akinsdale rink.
The winner advances to the best-of-five division quarter-final against the Beverly Warriors (26-11-1) or North Edmonton Red Wings (25-11-2) and the series starts Friday at the Clareview or Londonderry arena.
It’s the third year in a row the Merchants and Flyers have faced-off in the qualifying round and the fourth consecutive year they have gone head-to-head in the post-season. The Flyers swept last year’s series and the Merchants prevailed two years ago in game three with Cam Mazur sniping the series-clinching goal on a breakaway in double overtime.
The Merchants (21-16-1) and Flyers (15-20-3) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the west standings and in four league games The Blue Guys were victorious 7-1 Oct. 6 and 5-4 in a shootout Nov. 10 in Stony Plain and 7-5 Jan. 7 and 5-1 Jan. 28 in St. Albert.
The fourth win in five games before the playoffs for the Merchants was 7-3 against the Morinville Jets (24-12-2) Tuesday at Ray McDonald Sports Centre.
Brenden Passek, Robert Putt, Peter Corrigan, Matt Havens, Jack Langenhahn, Marco Runco and Mazur (power play) scored, Sam Milner chipped in with three assists and Chris Motoska and Kole Bryks each had two helpers.
Lee Gadoury, Michael Wolosyhn and Brett Dubuc replied for the Jets.
Brandon Boughen (10-6, 4.04 GAA) of the Merchants stopped 48 of 51 shots, including all 19 in the middle period, and Luke Hall (11-8, 3.56 GAA) of the Jets faced 41 shots.
The Merchants finished the season series against the Jets at 3-1.
The loss left the Jets in third place and the best-of-three series against the Edmonton Mustangs starts tonight at 8:30 p.m. in Morinville. Game two is 8 p.m. Sunday at Bill Hunter Arena and game three, if needed, is 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Morinville.
In the CJHL scoring race, Dubuc was second in goals with 44 and fourth in points with 83 in 38 games and Havens tied for 11th in points with 59 in 38 games as the Merchants’ top goal scorer with 20.
Sharks at home
The St. Albert Sharks have home-ice advantage today in the Alberta Female Hockey League.
Puck drop is 2:15 p.m. between the Sharks (17-2) and Airdrie Lightning (13-5-1) at Go Auto Arena.
The No. 1 midget elite team in the AFHL is 4-2 in 2018 after Wednesday’s 4-0 decision against the Edmonton Pandas (8-11-1) at Bill Hunter Arena.
Cecelia Michelutti (7-2, 1.08 GAA) stopped 20 shots for her third shutout of the season.
The second consecutive shutout and the third in four games for the Sharks was also the team’s sixth.
The Sharks posted 21 shots as Annika Neset and Olivia Michelutti struck on the power play and Aidan Soltis and Jorja Werenka scored at even strength.
Brooklyn Schroeder added three assists and Neset had two helpers.
Neset is the team leader in points with 20 and is tied with Schroeder for the most goals at seven apiece.
Neset is also the league leader in assists with 13.
Midget AA Blues
The next home game for the St. Albert Blues in the Northern Alberta Midget AA Hockey League is Tuesday against SSAC Lakewood Chevrolet.
Faceoff is 8:30 p.m. at Go Auto Arena.
In the Anderson division, the Blues (13-6-5) trail second-place SSAC (15-6-5) by four points with two games in hand.
The Blues are undefeated in five games at 3-0-2 after this week’s 2-2 penalty-marred contest with SSAC Don Wheaton (8-17-4) at Mark Messier Arena.
Zach Chizen and Jake Strakowicz capitalized on the power play to open the scoring in the first period.
Shots were 48-27 for the Blues and Evan Hergott (7-2-3, 2.37 GAA) was in net.