It was a historic weekend for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds as the major midget hockey league team won their first-ever playoff series.
The Thunderbirds won 2-1 and 4-1 over the weekend at the George Preston Recreation Centre to eliminate the Greater Vancouver Canadians in the teams’ best-of-three quarter-final series.
The victory advances Fraser Valley to the semifinals of the BC Major Midget Hockey League where they will face the Vancouver Northwest Giants in a best-of-three series at the Preston Centre. Games one and two are Friday and Saturday, both at 7 p.m. and if necessary, game three would be Sunday at 2 p.m.
Fraser Valley head coach Peter Hay was impressed by his team’s effort against the Canadians.
“We had a plan in place and they executed it real well,” he said, citing the fact the team was back-checking, blocking shots and providing solid defensive zone coverage.
It also helped that goaltender Dawson Pelletier (Hope) allowed just one goal apiece in both games.
At the other end of the ice, the Thunderbirds used a balanced scoring attack as six players scored a goal apiece.
In game one, Carter Anderson (Langley) snapped a 1-1 tie midway through the third.
Jason Bowen (Chilliwack) had Fraser Valley’s other goal .
Game two saw Jake Mulder (Abbotsford) Gage Goncalves (Mission) and Will Dow-Kenny (Abbotsford) give Fraser Valley a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Justin Plett (Abbotsford) made it 4-1 in the third.
“I felt the Canadians had a tough time handling our speed and intensity,” Hay said, crediting Greater Vancouver goaltender Jesse Makaj for keeping the Thunderbirds from pulling away in both games.
“We were in the offensive zone quite a bit … the Canadians goalie stood on his team.”
The Thunderbirds were 4-0 during the regular season against the Giants as Fraser Valley (25-13-1-1) finished eight points ahead of Vancouver Northwest (20-16-2-2).
“At the end of the day, playoff hockey brings different things and they have been very hot coming into this playoff run,” Hay said.
“We are not going to take them lightly.
“I think we match up well but they have a hot goalie and they have a team that has been playing very well.”