With the Stonehouse Cup Finals matchup now set between the Ridge Meadows Flames and the Delta Ice Hawks, we can have a quick look at some areas to watch in the battle for the PJHL’s top prize. The best-of-seven Finals begin Thursday, March 23
The Ridge Meadows Flames were the first to reach the Final and have showcased exceptional special teams play to to get there (more on that below). Ridge Meadows is in search of its first PJHL title since the 1997-98 season.
After a five-game series in which they scored four goals in each contest, the Delta Ice Hawks got a bit of payback on the White Rock Whalers who defeated Delta in six games in the 2022 Tom Shaw Conference finals. Now in the Stonehouse Cup Finals, the Ice Hawks face a team in the Flames that may want some revenge themselves as Delta defeated Ridge Meadows in six games in the 2018 Finals.
Delta went 3-1 against Ridge Meadows this season, outscoring them 28-16.
- Key Contributors
The top scorer still alive in these playoffs is Theo Kochan of Ridge Meadows. The right-hand shot has 10 goals and five assists in nine games and scored twice in his last outing, a Game 4 win over Chilliwack that earned the Flames the sweep in the Harold Brittain Conference finals. Cam Connolly is 8-1 in the postseason and the 6-foot-4 ‘tender posted a 41-save shutout in a Game 3 win over Chilliwack.
Jordan Kujala has played setup man in the playoffs with two goals and 10 helpers and a regular season in which he and Kochan each had more goals than assists.
In the Ice Hawks’ crease, Delta has used both Zach Shaughnessy and Merik Erickson in the postseason, including a start for each of them in the last two games of the conference finals. Shaughnessy started the Game 5 clincher against White Rock and leads all PJHL netminders in the playoffs with a 0.955 save percentage and a 1.00 goals-against average.
Alec Scouras is the Ice Hawks’ top scorer in the postseason with 5-7-12 in nine games. Ice Hawks’ defenceman Henry Smith was fourth among his team’s rearguards in during the regular season, one that saw him spend time in the BCHL with Cowichan Valley and the WHL with Vancouver. The right-handed shooter is second on the team in overall scoring in the playoffs but it’s not exactly a surprise as he had 26 points in 32 regular season games for the league’s highest scoring team. It’s been a balanced attack for the Ice Hawks in the playoffs with six players tied for second on the team with eight points, Smith being one of them.
Ridge Meadows has flexed the man advantage to their advantage in the playoffs, boasting a 28.6 per cent power play and a stellar 87.9 per cent penalty kill. Delta has been less proficient on special teams with just a 16.7 percent PP and 77.8 on the kill. A positive for the Ice Hawks is their three power-play goals in the second period of their Game 5 win over White Rock.
Delta has home-ice advantage in the Finals and, as usual, will play at Ladner Leisure Centre (LLC). However, should a Game 7 in Delta be necessary, the PJHL and the Ice Hawks are currently working to find a rink that can host the game as the Finals will extend into April and the LLC is unavailable after March 31.
Games 3 and 4 will be played at Cam Neely Arena Planet Ice in Maple Ridge. The last time the Flames were champions of the PJHL, they played at the Cam Neely Arena on Dewdney Trunk Road by the Beast Horse Clock that inspired the team’s former logo. Will the Beast rise again in the Finals?
- Cyclone on the Horizon
The 2023 Cyclone Taylor Cup, pitting the winners of the PJHL, Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) and the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) against each other in battle for B.C. Junior B supremacy, is being hosted by the Revelstoke Grizzlies of the KIJHL.
Currently in the VIJHL, the Campbell River Storm and the Oceanside Generals are in one semifinal series while the Saanich Predators and Victoria Cougars are going at it in the other.
In the KIJHL, the Revelstoke Grizzlies are facing the Princeton Posse in a best-of-seven while the Kimberley Dynamiters take on the Beaver Valley Nighthawks for the right to advance.
The Cyclone Taylor Cup is April 16 to 23.