CVGK Media – Photo by Jim Hockley
March 3, 2013, Courtenay, BC (ISN) – After over a week of waiting, the anticipated North Island Finals are set to begin as the Comox Valley Glacier Kings prepare to face off against the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
With both teams sweeping their semi final series, the nine day hiatus leaves little room for excuses from either camp with respect to expectations for a fast paced, high intensity series.
Regular Season Results If the regular season is any indicator, this series is destined to have fans writhing in their seats with excitement. The season series was split 5-5, with Nanaimo taking the first two games of the season.
Photograph Courtesy of Jim Hockley
The Glacier Kings outscored the Buccs 35-30, and outshot them 284 to 263, however Nanaimo had the edge in overall points for the season, with 58 points over the ‘Kings 47. It’s tough to determine who took the edge in the series, as the Glacier Kings were plagued with significant injuries throughout the season, it’s fair to say neither team has faced each other’s full, healthy lineups.
Both teams are coming off their first series, with solid 4 straight win performances. Comox Valley outscored their opponents 20-6 (+14) while Nanaimo was close, outscoring their opposition 18-5 (+13). Goaltending Goaltending was imperative to both teams series success, as well as regular season victories. In four starts, Comox’s Michael Hails was a solid 1.50 GAA and a .938 Save Percentage. In two starts, Nanaimo’s Ryley Medves had identical numbers as Hails in both categories, while Cameron Large, who has had ups and downs against his former club during regular season play was 2-0 in the playoffs with a 1.0 GAA and .960 Save Percentage.
With both teams having solid net-minders, this series will certainly produce some tight games.
Defensively, both teams proved to be solid in their first round of playoff action, and in regular season play.
Nanaimo’s defense was sufficient during the regular season allowing only 150 goals against (3.125 per game), which is 31 goals less than the Glacier Kings’ 181. In the regular season series against each other, it was a reversal though, as Nanaimo allowed an average of 3.5 goals against per game, while the ‘Kings allowed only an average of 3.
Although these numbers are more team specific, when you put the back ends under the microscope, it is hard not to give Comox Valley a strong edge in this department. With 6 of their 7 defenseman standing over six feet tall, including 6’5″ Captain,
Nicholas Tupper, the Glacier Kings zone will surely be a tough place to play in for the opposition.
In addition to Tupper, Comox has a variety of resources on the blue line at their disposal, including the well rounded Patrick Croome, the physical presence of Garrett Halls, and defensive stalwarts Cody Eliason, Calvin Hadley and Max Crawford. In addition, the Glacier Kings only defenseman that doesn’t reach the six foot mark, is the smooth BCHL veteran, Brandon Halls. In the division semi finals, the G-King’s defense contributed 17 points as opposed to Nanaimo’s 8.
The Glacier Kings should not be too quick to dismiss Nanaimo’s defense, as Derian Hamilton, Noah Russi, and Quentin McShane have the ability to make big plays. Look for the Glacier Kings to be using their defense to try to gain the advantage.
Both teams have players that can put the puck in the net with Nanaimo possessing Rookie of the Year, Garrett Dunlop and veteran Beau Blanaru. Both players were an integral part of Nanaimo’s first round sweep of Kerry Park, and both players outscored all Comox Valley players at 10 and 9 points respectively. Forward Will McNamara is third in points for the Buccaneers with 5 points in 4 games.
As you dig deeper, beyond Nanaimo’s top pair there is a drop off.
Not so with the Glacier Kings, when you consider forward Rylan Ball who leads all Yetis with 7 goals in the post season, while Andrew White, Michael Pond , Jack Kennelly and Wade Bartlett are all scoring at a pace over one point per game (defensemen Brandon Halls and Garrett Halls are also in the point per game club).
It will be a matter of whether Nanaimo’s top line can compete with the Glacier King’s depth up front. Look for Nanaimo to expect big things out of their top line, and the Glacier Kings to work a well balanced attack.
In the season series, both teams were relatively ineffective on the power play (or excellent on the penalty kill, depending on your view). The Glacier Kings went 6 for 42 (14.2%), while the Bucc’s were 6 for 51 (11.7%). Both teams have developed their special teams a great deal over the course of the season.
In the division semi finals both teams had 8 power play goals. The Glacier Kings were ranked 2nd with a 36.36% power play efficiency, while Nanaimo was 3rd at 29.63%.
On the penalty kill, Nanaimo was ranked 3rd in the playoffs, going 19 for 21 for an impressive 90.48%. The Glacier Kings were incredibly stingy ranking 1st on the penalty kill allowing no penalty kill goals at all.
Both teams are structured and play a disciplined style of play.
When asked about recent media regarding the two teams meeting in the playoffs, Head Coach of the Glacier Kings, Bill Rotheisler said, “we don’t pay attention to what other teams are saying, we are focused on our game. We know we play a disciplined, structured game and we know we have to play strong defensively to win. We have a great deal of respect for what Nanaimo has accomplished, and we have been preparing to play them since we’ve advanced to the North Island Finals. This will be a good series, but we are fully prepared.”
Overall, it should prove to be an exciting series. With the teams evenly matched as far as numbers go, I fully expect this to be a series of who wants it more. Percentages don’t factor in heart, experience and a drive to win