Blazers battling in WHL playoffs
Despite the fact that they limped into the postseason, the Kamloops Blazers are really giving the Kootenay Ice a tough time in their first round series. The top team in the WHL this season and a favourite along with Kelowna to move onto the Memorial Cup, Kootenay finished 43 points ahead of the lowly Blazers in the standings this year.
Despite this discrepancy, however, Kamloops has taken their provincial neighbours to overtime in the series' first two games in Cranbrook. The Blazers won the first on Friday by scoring 16 seconds into the extra frame, but Kootenay followed suit when Nigel Dawes netted a goal 36 seconds into overtime in the second game this afternoon. Not bad considering I wrote about the possibility of Kamloops missing the playoffs for the first time ever back in January.
The other series I'll be following closely in the CHL is between the Toronto St. Mike's Majors and the Mississauga Ice Dogs. Another matchup of close rivals — geographically speaking, Cranbrook is close to Kamloops by Western Canadian standards only — the two teams have split their first two games. The Majors are heavy underdogs against a strong Ice Dogs team.
As for the respective leagues, I like Rimouski and Halifax in the Q, London and Owen Sound in the OHL and Kelowna and Medicine Hat in the WHL. With London already guaranteed a berth in the Mem Cup festivities, one lucky OHL team from the Eastern Conference — assuming the Knights can dispose of Owen Sound in the semifinals — gets the chance to get pounded by the top talents in the CHL.
A final foursome featuring Kelowna, Rimouski and London will truly be amazing.