Matchup Mania: Playoffs

by Aidan Rai

The final games of an exhilarating regular season have concluded, and the matchups are set for the 2019 Alberta Junior A playoffs.  It was a heated scramble for first place throughout the whole season, but when the dust had settled it was the Mounties who emerged on top with a record of 10-5 and a 4-point advantage over a second place Raiders team.  This weekend the playoffs will kick off with the Mounties facing down the Miners and the SWAT taking on the Raiders.

Mountaineers VS. Miners

The Mounties and the Miners were twisted funhouse reflections of one another throughout the entire season.  While the Mounties were experienced and consistent, the Miners were youthful and uneven.  Though the Miners started the season strong with a 3-1 record, they quickly began to stumble and falter against the bigger and more rounded teams. There were glimmers of talent and potential over the 15-game season such as decent goaltending from John Holan and Zach Yopek-Stabel; however, in this league glimmers are seldom enough to achieve victory, as the Miners ended the season with a 4-10-0-1 record.

On the opposite end, the Mounties developed a systematic and disciplined style of play that led them to the top seed.  Their stinging offense was the driving force for their success as they compiled a total of 149 goals for on the season and saw a breakthrough campaign from Toron Eccleston who led the league in points with 70. The defensive end was also composed and difficult to crack for many teams.  Going into the playoffs, they are riding a 5-game winning streak.  As they look towards their upcoming series with the Miners, it will be important for them to not become complacent, as the opposing team will be unlikely to roll over and submit so easily.

SWAT VS. Raiders

This matchup is sure to be a long and engaging war between two evenly matched teams.  The SWAT and the Raiders finished off the regular season with a two-game stint against one another, and each team walked away with an overtime win a piece. Though the Raiders started the season off poorly, they have earned themselves home floor advantage heading into the playoffs primarily thanks to an impressively explosive transition lineup.

While the SWAT were poised for the prospect of first place halfway through the season, their stout defense unfortunately was not enough to earn them one of the top two seeds. Heading into such an even matchup, the offensive pairing of Linklater and Berglof will need to be dialed in if they are hoping to put enough numbers up on the board.

The teams have competed all season long for a chance to prove themselves in the playoffs.  Will there be an upset? Will the favourites prevail? Find out this weekend as the Junior A Playoffs kick off!