Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven are tonight and tomorrow night, with Games 3 and 4 Monday and Tuesday in Alberni.
The Eagles have been sitting since sweeping the Chilliwack Chiefs on Monday night in Chilliwack with a 3-2 overtime win. Don't hold that against the Eagles though, that's the benefit of sweeping - you play less hockey, you rest and you heal. To a man the Eagles will probably tell you how hard that series really was, despite the fact it was a sweep. The Eagles also dispatched Langley in the first round in four games, so they have certainly played less miles than the Bulldogs.
There is a fine line between rest and battle tested, on a roll, and dead tired. No matter what, you need to just focus on the task at hand and nothing more, and that's getting ready to play Game 1 tonight. The South Surrey Arena will certainly be a factor with it's Olympic/International sized 200x100 ice sheet so the Dogs had best be ready to skate - but not chase when in the defensive zone.
The Dogs have been playing from behind in each series so far - hey, you can't argue that it works to the point that they have found a way to get it done...but it is maybe why they have played 10 games to this point while the Eagles have played just 7. So here's hoping they can find a way to get off to a good start to not fall back into the hole again.
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of magnification that comes into play when it gets to this time of year. Little things, big things...this time of year everything can be a big thing. I know the Bulldogs Coaching Staff listened to comments on the Grizzlies post game show regarding the crazy amount of time they were putting into video sessions on face-off play. It's not that the Bulldogs weren't putting the effort into draws, of course they were. They might have been further motivated by knowing that fact though, and spent more time on it and focused on it more as the series went on. Cue Game 4, and a face-off win directly leading to the game winner in OT. The same could be said about Game 5 and the series winning goal, just 18 seconds into overtime.
The Bulldogs found out yesterday that they will be without Matt Hansen for the first two games of the series as he has been suspended for a blow to the head. Seems somewhat vindictive and sour grapes from the Grizzlies that they would take the time and the effort to do the paperwork and secure the video and send it all in to the league by early the next morning, but I guess when your season is over and you have nothing to do, I guess you have nothing but time on your hands. Maybe it's sending a message that they are sticking up for their guys, no matter what? Whether the season is over, I certainly don't want kids getting injured, and they need to feel that the league is protecting them if the Officials can't and I also see that side of it.
On this hit in question what bothered me was that Matt Hansen was sticking up for HIMSELF, as he was just seconds earlier cross checked from behind and hit dangerously almost headfirst into the boards, and there was no penalty. Hansen goes back and finishes a hit agressively, and possibly high. Look the below video for yourself. Where is the Grizzlies players Head? Almost looks to me he Head fakes, and LOWERS his head at impact. One would think better video was used than the one above to necessitate a two game suspension? I'm happy I'm not the person that has to decide and is in the middle of all the teams warring on and off the ice against each other. Even when the series is OVER.
Anyway, he ends up penalized, and the Grizzlies make it 1-0. At least the Dogs battled back, won the game, and it wasn't of consequence. Now the Dogs move on, and it is of significant consequence. I'll find the silver lining here - Hansen has been an incredible warrior, and has been banged up and battered and bruised. The rest will do him well. At the same time, he's one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league, and it's a shame to have him sit.
The message here is - don't retaliate and stick up for yourself - or at least don't cross that line while doing it as Hansen has done in the eyes of the Grizzlies and the BCHL. Discipline is a huge key this time of year. I certainly don't blame Hansen, as I would have been frustrated too, as the amount of attempts to "slow him down" throughout the series got a little much at times.
The Bulldogs lose Hansen tonight, and I'm not sure if they get anyone back with Gosselin, Kerr, Strand and Stewart all out with injuries, all on questionable hits.
That's the way she goes though, here's hoping there is another Mak Barden ready to make a name for himself!
93.3 The Peak FM with the Pacific Chevrolet pregame show kicking off at 7:00 with the puck drop and play-by-play to follow at 7:15 with myself and Bruce MacDonald.
Tonight's 1st intermission guest is Bulldogs Captain Ryan Lough. Tonight's 2nd intermission guest is Surrey Eagles play-by-play voice Brendan Batchelor, to give us some insight on the Eagles wins over both Chilliwack and Langley and his thoughts heading into this series.
*A note on the Fast Hockey broadcasts - if you are using a tablet like an Ipad to watch the games, you can only get audio from the HOME broadcaster. From a laptop or desktop computer you can choose from both the HOME and AWAY broadcasts.
Having both broadcasts available on the pay-per-view was something that generated a lot of feedback last year, and I have received word about it over the last couple of games in Victoria. The BCHL and Fast Hockey put a good amount effort into making both sides available this year. In some rinks like Alberni, it was LOTS of work to make it happen.
It's certainly understandable that fans who have been accustomed to listening to their broadcast want to hear their broadcast, especially when they are paying for it. So - if you have been using an Ipad all year and you just plain didn't know - you can pick and choose, provided you can use a computer!
Talk to you tonight from Surrey.