Thursday, April 5, 2012

BCHL Fred Page Cup Preview:

The Powell River Kings are set to face off with the mighty Penticton Vees in the BCHL Fred Page Cup final. This is the first time in 3 seasons we will not see a Powell River vs Vernon final, and with Vernon winning all 3 of those, this series will crown a new champion, with the winner moving on to the Doyle Cup against either the Fort McMurray Oil Barons or the Brooks Bandits. Here is a look at the series from the perspective of Alex Rawnsley, the Kings play by play guy.

If you follow my blog, you will know that Alex and I have worked together recently, and I would really like to encourage you to take a listen in on his broadcasts. His style is so unique and mixed with the Australian accent, I promise you that you won't want to turn the game off until it's done.

If you do want to listen, just click this link during game time, or visit his blog HERE!

*note* If you would like a different perspective of the final, I also would love if you visited Fraser Rodger's blog, Fraser is an ex-King PxP guy and is now working with the Vees. Click HERE to go to the Three Vees Blog.

Here is what Alex has to say:
Following a series against the Eagles which so closely followed history, the Kings and Vees will embark on a Fred Page Cup Final series that has never been seen before and it will be the first match up since December 2011. It will be a battle of the top two teams in the regular season, a fight between the league’s best offence (Penticton – 334 GF) and the league’s best defense (Powell River – 127 GA). If that’s not enough, add in the fact that Penticton had the league’s 2nd best defense, while the Kings had the league’s 3rd best offense (behind Coquitlam, who the Kings beat in round 1).

Last Meetings
It’s hard to match any cross-conference teams up. With the schedule the way things are, the Kings only saw the Vees once this year. The Vees were rolling and took advantage of a tired and injured Kings lineup, getting out to a 7-0 lead before the Kings got two goals in the 3rd for a 7-2 result in the 2nd last game prior to the Christmas break. The Kings lost Tanner Cochrane early in that game to a fractured collar bone, and were down to one goaltender in Jamie Phillips due to an injury to Sean Maguire. The Vees went 3/4 on the power play, the Kings countered with 1/5 and former King Michael Garteig made 22 saves in a win against his former team.
Much has changed for both teams, so I would imagine very little (if anything) will be taken from that result. For example, both starting goaltenders from that game are gone. Jamie Phillips is in Ontario and Mike Garteig is on the sidelines (although there are rumors that Garteig will play against his old team). That’s just scratching the surface.

New Faces
The trade deadline impacted both teams heavily. The Kings added 4 new faces, all of whom have had a huge impact on the team in the regular season, but especially the playoffs. JP Villeneuve, Brendon MacDonald and Teal Burns sit 4th, 5th and 6th in team scoring through 11 games, with Villeneuve leading the team during the Coquitlam series. Goaltender Jonah Imoo has had his impact too, sporting a 1-0 record by making 17 of 17 saves in relief of Sean Maguire in game 5 against the Express. Add that to his regular season numbers and his contributions can’t be overlooked.
The Vees added at the deadline as well, through Wade Murphy from the Victoria Grizzlies. He leads the Vees in scoring in the playoffs, including the game winning goal against the Centennials in game 4 during the 2nd overtime period. Murphy’s 15 points (7 goals) in the playoffs adds to his 29 points in 22 games during the regular season and makes him a very dangerous pickup.

Historical Head to Head
In regular season play over the last five years, the Kings are 3-5 against the Vees, while being outscored 29-22. The last win against Penticton came on January 25th, 2011, it was a 4-1 win on the 2nd leg of a home-and-home series (the Kings lost leg 1 4-1 in Penticton). The Kings haven’t won in Penticton in the last five years, with all three wins coming in Powell River. Whilst that might seem like a daunting statistic, breaking it down further proves how even these two teams could be. Shots on goal through 8 regular season games over the last 5 years total 232-229 in favor of the Vees, while special teams are even closer, with both teams 10/42 (23.81%) on the foreplay.
This series will also be the latest meeting in the last five years, with all games between the two sides played before the end of January (January 25th the latest game).

Playoff Experience
Given the fact that this will be the Kings 4th Fred Page Cup Finals appearance in the last four years, the Kings have a big advantage in playoff experience. Over the past five years, the Kings have played in 76 playoff games compared to the Vees 61. Leading the way for the Kings is Steven Schmidt. His 43 playoff games leads all Kings in this series, and Steven has been a big part of the last three Kings teams during the playoffs. Also long in the tooth, Teagan Waugh who has played in 34 playoff games for the Kings. This number would be much higher had Teagan not missed last year’s playoffs. All of the two-year Kings also carry with them a large amount of playoff experience. Cohen Adair, Jon Jutzi and Chris Williams all have 28 games under their belt, Daniel Schuler and Craig Dalrymple just behind with 27 games. Not to be forgotten, “new” Kings Evan Richardson (24 with Victoria, Alberni and Powell River), and Teal Burns (37 with Nanaimo, Victoria and Powell River, plus 4 WHL playoff games).
For the Vees, it’s all Logan Johnston. 46 playoff games is tops for any player in this series, as he’s been a mainstay for the Vees over the last four years. With his graduation to UMass Lowell next season, the veteran will obviously want to cap off a career on a high. Following Johnston, Nick Buchanan has suited up 27 times, with Bryce Gervais has 26 games of playoff experience between Penticton and Salmon Arm. Behind that, it’s a lot of players on 20 games (including the 11 from this year), these include Joey Benik, Troy Stecher, Curtis Loik and Kyle Beaulieu.

Other Points of Note
  • There are three former Kings on the Vees roster from last year’s team. Michael Garteig, voice of the Vees Fraser Rodgers and defenseman Zach Urban, who played in five regular season and one playoff game for the Kings.
So that gives you a general idea of the history between these two teams. At the end of the day, it means not a whole lot, but even with the fact that these two teams have crossed paths only 8 times in the last 5 years, you can see that there are some trends that play out. There’s no question that the Vees have had an impressive season, but this Kings team is perhaps the best one yet. It has depth, talent, grit and experience…all qualities which are magnified at this time of year. Game 1 gets underway Friday in Penticton, a 7:00pm face off.

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