Junior B playoffs
The opening playoff round pairings in the Capital Junior Hockey League will be finalized after the regular season wraps up tonight.
The St. Albert Merchants (20-16-1) finished fourth in the west division for the second year in a row and the best-of-three qualifying round against the Stony Plain Flyers (15-20-3) or Edmonton Mustangs (14-19-4) is expected to start this weekend with The Blue Guys tentatively hosting game one Friday at 8 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena.
The Flyers swept the Merchants in last year’s opening round series.
Tuesday’s result between the Merchants and Morinville Jets (24-11-2) at Ray McDonald Sports Centre and tonight’s score between the North Edmonton Red Wings (24-11-2) and Spruce Grove Regals (4-31-2) will determine the second and third playoff seeds in the west. The Red Wings and Jets are tied for second and the top two teams receive byes into the best-of-five quarter-finals.
The score between the Merchants and Jets was unavailable at press time.
Last year’s Jets finished first in the west and were eliminated in the quarter-finals by the Flyers in five games.
The fifth win in six games for the Jets was Sunday’s 5-2 decision against the Strathcona Bruins (16-19-3) at Strathcona Olympiette Centre.
Brett Dubuc tallied twice, including a shorthanded effort to open the scoring, and added two assists for 43 goals and 81 points on the season.
The first loss after three wins for the Merchants while going 5-5 in 10 games was the 7-2 setback to the division-leading Beverly Warriors (26-11-1) Sunday at Clareview Arena.
The bulk of the 21 infractions for 80 minutes were assessed during the penalty-filled first period.
Matt Havens potted a pair for a team-leading 19 goals and 57 points.
Slash split two
The St. Albert Ron Hodgson Slash returned home from last weekend’s road trip with one win in two games in the Alberta Female Hockey League.
The midget AAA Slash edged the red Deer Chiefs 2-1 and fell 5-2 to Calgary Fire.
Madison Willan’s second goal, a power-play marker with under five minutes remaining against the Chiefs (14-7-3), lifted the Slash to their fourth consecutive win.
Shots were 23-22 Slash and Camryn Drever (9-3, 1.42 GAA) was between the pipes.
The match against Calgary (7-15-3) was knotted at two entering the third period. The fifth Calgary goal was deposited into an empty net.
Makenna Schuttler and Jaden Bogden scored and Robyn Short assisted on both goals.
The shot count was 31-23 for the Slash and Brianna Sank (8-5, 1.53 GAA) tended the twine.
The 2017 Esso Cup national champions have five games remaining before the AFHL provincials, including three in a row against the Lloydminster Steelers (15-7-2) starting next weekend in the Border City.
The Slash and Steelers are second and third, respectively, in the standings behind the first-place Rocky Mountain Raiders (20-4-2).
Raiders score 13
The St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders lit the lamp 13 times in two games after three consecutive shutout losses in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.
The offensive outburst started with Ryan Harker’s power-play goal 4:14 into the first period of Saturday’s 4-2 win over the host Grande Peace Storm (8-17-6) and ended with Brady Nicholas finding the back of the net with 25 seconds left in the 9-0 rout of the Calgary Flames (15-10-6) Sunday at Akinsdale Arena.
The Raiders racked up 53 shots against the Storm and 46 shots against the Flames.
Mitch Reidy (9-5-3, 2.12 GAA) was tested 22 times by the Storm and Evan Fradette (6-7-2, 2.07 GAA) stopped 21 shots by the Flames for his third shutout and the fourth of the season for the top defensive team in the north with 2.15 goals against per game.
Cam Aucoin’s hat-trick against the Storm included an empty-netter with one tick on the clock. Jacob Hiemstra and Zach Carlson chipped in with two assists apiece.
The Raiders capitalized three times on the power play against the Flames with Brock Bartholomew, Hiemstra and Xavier Halterman doing the damage.
Erik Boers, Jacob Charko, Hiemstra, Halterman, Aucoin, and Nicholas connected at even strength.
The weekend scoring spree also put the brakes on a six-game winless skid at 0-5-1 for the second-place Raiders (15-12-5) in the north standings.
With three games remaining before the playoffs, the Raiders and KC Pats (19-10-3) have first-round byes for berths in the best-of five division semifinals.
The Raiders skate Saturday against the Southside Athletic Club (7-14-1) at 2:30 p.m. at Bill Hunter Arena and Sunday against the Lloydminster Bobcats (7-22-2) at 5:15 p.m. in the Border City.
The St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres are undefeated in 22 games with four remaining before the playoffs start in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.
The Sabres (22-2-8) are 16-0-6 since the 4-1 loss to CAC Lehigh Cement (18-10-3) Oct. 23 and last weekend the streak continued with the 5-1 victory over the Camrose Red Wings (6-23-1) and 2-2 draw against the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers (12-14-7).
Captain Tyson Greenway potted a pair in the third period against the Rangers, the defending AMBHL champions, and his second goal and 19th of the season was the equalizer on the power play with 6:44 to play at Akinsdale Arena.
The Rangers struck twice with the man advantage for the 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.
Shots were 36-17 for the Sabres and Carson Ironside (11-2-3, 1.78 GAA) was in net.
The day before in Camrose, Holden Selin posted three goals, Chase Visser (power play) and Payton McDonald-Corea notched singles and Levi Fesyk added two assists.
The shot count was 34-16 for the Sabres as Matt Tebbutt (11-0-5, 2.27 GAA) backstopped the team to its sixth win in seven games.
The Sabres are back in action Saturday against the host Leduc Oil Kings (15-9-8) at 8:15 p.m.
Both teams lead their respective divisions in the north conference and the Sabres are second overall in the AMBHL behind the Calgary Bisons (25-3-3) of the challenger south division.
The tentative best-of-three nitro north division semifinal opener between the Sabres and SSAC Southgate Lions (11-14-7) is Feb. 20.
The second win in a row for the St. Albert Flyers after two losses was Saturday’s blowout at Akinsdale Arena.
Four-point performances by Dylan McFatridge and Robert Kincaid propelled the Flyers past CRAA Gold 8-3 in the Alberta Minor Midget AAA Hockey League.
McFatridge tallied three times and Ronin Pusch, Ethan McKinley, Luke Cust, Mathieu Gautier and Kincaid also scored against the Gold (15-11-4), ranked fifth in south division.
The Flyers were credited with 39 shots and Ethan Barwick (13-4-3, 2.16 GAA) stopped 29 of 32 shots for the second-place team in the north standings.
Three points separate the Flyers (18-5-6) and Sherwood Park Squires (21-5-3) for the division pennant.
On tap this weekend for the Flyers are the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers (15-13-3) Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at JRC Arena and Camrose Red Wings (5-18-6) Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Akinsdale rink.
The last league game for the Flyers is March 4 before the Sutter North Cup provincial qualifier, March 8 to 11 in Fort Saskatchewan. Three teams advance to the AMMHL provincials, March 21 to 25 in Lethbridge.