Niagara Falls goalie Zachary Moore will look to backstop the top-seeded Canucks through the semi-finals against Pelham.
There was not much suspense in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League – Golden Horseshoe Conference – quarter-finals, but that will likely change in the semi-finals which begin tonight on two fronts.
Three of the four teams in the semis advanced with four-game sweeps in their opening round playoff series.
The top seeded Niagara Falls Canucks swept Lockport, second ranked St. Catharines toppled Welland in four straight games, while number three Hamilton got by Fort Erie in four as well.
It took fourth ranked Pelham six games to dispose of Thorold.
So the semi-finals are set with Number 1 Niagara Falls taking on 4th seeded Pelham, and number 2 St. Catharines up against third ranked Hamilton.
There’s no denying the St. Catharines – Hamilton series is the most appealing.
The Falcons finished nine points ahead of the Kilty B’s in the regular season standings, and were (4-2) in head to head matchups against Hamilton.
Both St. Catharines and the Kilty B’s featured the Golden Horseshoe Conference’s stingiest defences.
The Falcons gave up a GOJHL low 106 goals, with Hamilton right behind at 110. St. Catharines goaltender Jack McGovern led the conference in goals against average with a sparkling 1.90.
Niagara Falls was (6-1) against Pelham in the regular season, and did score a league best 282 goals – 23 more than any other opponent in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The Canucks Justin Kyle led the GOJHL in scoring with 81 assists and 118 points.
Niagara Falls netminder, and St. Catharines native, Zach Moore led the conference in wins with 30.
Pelham goaltender, and Welland native, Brandon McCorriston was tops in league save-percentage at .929.
As for the other two conferences, it’s top ranked Listowel – with former Niagara IceDogs head coach Jason Brooks in charge – taking on fourth ranked Kitchener, and second seeded Stratford taking on number three Waterloo in the Midwestern Conference, while the Western Conference featured a pair of upsets in the first round of the playoffs setting up some interesting semi-final series.
The sixth seeded Komoka Kings ousted the third ranked Chatham Maroons in just five games and will now play the top ranked Leamington Flyers in the semis, while the number five Leamington Vipers swept away the fourth ranked Sarnia Legionnaires setting up a semi-final series against the number two London Nationals.
So 12 teams left in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs, all looking to advance to their respective conference finals and eventually a trip to the Sutherland Cup – the Ontario Junior B Provincial Championship.
Here’s a look at the schedules for the two Junior B playoff series here in Niagara:
(both series are best of seven)
Number 1 Niagara Falls vs. Number 4 Pelham
Friday March 15th 7 pm at the Gale Centre
Sunday March 17th 2:30 pm at Meridian Community Centre
Tuesday March 19th 7 pm at the Gale Centre
Wednesday March 20th 7:30 pm at Meridian Community Centre
*Friday March 22nd 7 pm at the Gale Centre
*Sunday March 24th 2:30 pm at Meridian Community Centre
*Monday March 25th 7 pm at the Gale Centre
(* indicates if necessary)
Number 2 St. Catharines vs. Number 3 Hamilton
Friday March 15th 7 pm at Jack Gatecliff Arena
Monday March 18th 7 pm in Hamilton
Tuesday March 19th 7 pm at the Jack
Thursday March 21st 7 pm in Hamilton
*Friday March 22nd 7 pm at the Jack
*Sunday March 24th 7 pm in Hamilton
*Monday March 25th 7 pm at the Jack
(* indicates if necessary)
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.