1. What a contrast to the first round. A wide-open, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biter - if not always a head-scratcher - that was the Ice-Hitmen series turns to the Game 1 defensive battle against the Tigers that featured - get this - great goaltending!
2. In a surprise start, G Mackenzie Skapski got the nod to start the second round after a less-than-stellar first round that had backup Wyatt Hoflin close out the series with the Hitmen with the final two wins. The Rangers Draft pick was stellar, if not always busy, but when the Tigers pressed in the second period he made the great saves that seemed to elude him in the Calgary series, stopped 28 of 30 shots, not at fault on either goals.
3. Most everyone knew that the Tigers had the edge in goaltending in Marek Langhamer but he was all that was advertised. If not for him and his stopping 38 of 41 shots this one could've got away from the Tigers early.
4. Okay, hands up all of you that put some cash down on the odds that the Ice would get six power play opportunities and go 0-6 and that an Ice 4-2 win would be bereft of any scoring from Reinhart, Descheneau, Franko and Philp. Thought so.
5. Almost thought that the timing of the big line was a little off more than the Tigers doing any better of a job covering the dynamic duo. Although I'd grant the fact that both had very little time and space Saturday night. Hard to believe that they had so much against Calgary.
6. Easy turning point pick tonight as following a terrible shift by the Cable-Martin-McPhee line in their own zone in which the Tigers had numerous chances and hemmed them in for about a minute, at least, Cable was able to poke a puck free at the blueline and head in on a partial breakaway. Martin had the presence of mind to follow up and not change after likely being gassed, but followed up to receive and bury a Cable feed to tie the game at 2 and effectively demoralize the Tigers.
7. A little gooning it up near the end of the game for the Tigers who were frustrated at the lack of calls going their way from the Zebras. They had a beef. On the empty-net goal by Dirk late in the game just three seconds before that Dirk got away with a clear hold on Curtis Valk that caused the turnover and the empty-netter. An errant high-stick about halfway through the 3rd that wasn't called, just prior to a marginal hooking call on the Tigers, had the Tabbies incensed.
8. That being said, the cheap shot by Tigers D
UPDATE - As per whl.ca the league has suspended Tiger F Jacob Doty, 20, for one game following the melee last night.
9. By not playing their best game, and having their top guys not hit the scoresheet, Kootenay still managed to gut-out a win in the Arena in the Hat and steal home-ice. If Skapski's found his game and the depth is starting to score, it's only a matter of time before the big line scores. Let's see if Kootenay can keep up the good play for game two.
10. Gotta like the applause late in the game for the Tigers tactics by Ice coach Ryan McGill. For those who remember he wasn't exactly a shrinking violet when he played - a start contrast to the way his club plays this season - and I'm sure he would've dealt with the shenanigans in a slightly more aggressive way. You can't argue with the success the club is having in these playoffs but examples like the one late last night can really get the blood boiling. There isn't a lot of players on the Ice roster that fit the mould of a 'tough guy'. Save for Jon Martin, who can throw with the best of them, but the roster is pretty bare of players like that. I was surprised Jordan Steenburgen didn't get into the fracus in a more meaningful way but really, icing a line-up that again is short of the 18 skaters (they had 17, once again for the 6th straight game following the injury to D Tyler King that the club couldn't ice a full line-up). That dictates that suspensions and injuries are a real concern. Oh sometimes I do yearn for the days of yore..... Game two goes Sunday night at 6pm in the Hat. Highlites from Game 1 are up and are here.
11. Shout out to the Cranbrook FOE Peewee AA Eagles who won the South Central Alberta Hockey League Peewee Championship a week ago Friday in a 9-6 decision over the Bow Valley Timberwolves to claim the title in three straight games.
The Shawn Byram-Coached Eagles (Regina, Prince Albert, WHL - 1984-88), accomplished what no other Cranbrook-based Peewee team has been able to do and that's win a SCAHL Peewee Banner, having joined that league in 2007-08. The Eagles, who are a Tier 2 club in BC, won the championship coming off a heart-breaking 6-4, empty-net goal loss to Burnaby Winter Club at the BC Hockey Tier 1 Provincial Championships.The club moved up to the Tier 1 Division for provincials where most gave them little chance for success. It's safe to say there hasn't been a local club this successful since the Cranbrook Bantam Eagles, backstopped by Goaltender Cam Ondrik, won the BC AAA Provincial crown in 1995 and before that when the Niedermayer brothers, Scott and Rob, won Peewee and Bantam AAA Provincial Banners in 1988-89.