Playoff hockey is alive and well in the National Capital Region with three teams competing in their respective leagues.
When the Ottawa Senators clinched a playoff spot Sunday April 1 after a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders, they became the third team in Ottawato entertain its fans with exciting playoff hockey.
The Ottawa 67’s are already in the playoffs and will remain in the race after winning the sixth game against Malcolm Subban’s squad, (P.K. Subban’s younger brother), the Belleville Bulls by ascore of 2-1. They will now meet the Eastern Conference third place Barrie Colts, who won their series 4-2 against the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. The best of seven series will begin Friday April 6 at the Civic Centre.
This round will be more difficult for the 67’s then the previous one against the Belleville Bulls. The Barrie Colts faired better than Belleville during the regular season, finishing third in the Eastern Conference with only three points behind Ottawa. However, the Colts are missing their best player, Tanner Pearson, who broke his leg right before the start of the post-season. The Kitchener native finished the regular season as the third best scorer in the OHL with 91 points. With Pearson out and Tyler Toffoli heating up for the 67’s, Ottawa has a good chance to move on to the next round. However, hoisting the J. RossRobertson Cup and securing a spot at the Memorial Cup in Shawiniganwill be no walk in the park. The 67’s will need to get 12 more W’s to win the OHL Championship, allowing them to participate in the Memorial Cup.
Another Ottawa based team is also in the race for their respective championship. Top-seeded Junior A. Nepean Raiders, which competes in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, are still in the running for the Bogart Cup. After sweeping the Smith Falls Bearsin the first round, they presently face the defending champs, the Pembroke Lumberkings. The second round of the playoffs is well underway and after losing two games in overtime and winning two, Nepean needs to beat Pembroke twice in three games to move on to the finals. If the Raiders can seal the deal versus the Lumberkings, they will either face second-seed Cornwall Colts or fifth-place Hawkesbury Hawks.
If the Nepean Raiders can continue winning and claim the Bogart Cup, they will enter the Fred Page Cup hosted in Kanata. This tournament welcomes the winner of the Central Canada Hockey League, the Champion of the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League and the victor of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. These top three teams including the host of the tournament, the KanataStallions, will compete against one another in a round-robin. The first-place team will then meet the winner of the semi-final between the second and third place team. The champion of the Fred Page Cup will then compete in the RoyalBank Cup. This national junior tournament greets the winners of the Fred Page Cup, Anavet Cup, Doyle Cup, Dudley Hewitt Cup and the host team.
Last year, the Pembroke Lumberkings prevailed in all these tournaments and when you think about it, that’s a lot of hockey! In fact, if you were to play in all three tournaments, you could play up to 31 games in 47 days. Hope you like hockey because there will be plenty of it in Ottawa this spring.