The Cariboo Cougars didn’t have an easy time with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds in the first round of the B.C. Major Midget League playoffs, but coach Trevor Sprague wasn’t surprised.
“It’s playoff hockey,” The Cougars coach said after a 4-2 win Sunday in the deciding third game. “They have some older guys on their team, and they were ready to play some hard hockey.”
The Cougars finished first in the league during the regular season, while the Thunderbirds were eighth. The expected dominance did show up in some of the statistics, though.
“Look at the shot totals,” Sprague said. “In the last game they were something like 48-18. Their goalie played well, and we didn’t bury all our chances.
“We battled through that adversity and got the win.”
Griffen Outhouse was in goal for all three games for the Cougars, as Dorrin Luding continued to recover from an ankle injury.
“He’s still a week or two away,” Sprague said. “He injured it in our series against the Vancouver North West Giants, and then he may have hurt it a bit more in the Canada Winter Games.”
The Cougars are back on the ice at Kin 1 this weekend for the league semifinals, hosting a bit of a surprise. The South Island Royals, who finished seventh in the regular season, took the second-seeded Giants to overtime in all three of their opening round games, and won two of them to advance.
“They’ve got a new coach, Jackson Penney, and he’s got a lot of experience,” Sprague said. “He knows the roster, he knows what kind of game they have to play. They play a simple system, and they play hard.
“We’re going to have to capitalize on our chances, because we might not get too many against them.”
Game times for the Cougars-Giants series are 5 p.m. today (Friday) and 1 p.m. Saturday. Game three, if needed, would be Sunday at 8:15 a.m. All games are at Kin 1.
The other BCMML semifinal sees the Vancouver North East Chiefs take on the Greater Vancouver Canadians.