All four opening round series are underway for the six Niagara-based clubs. Photo credit: Twitter/Fort Erie Meteors
The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) is composed of three conferences and 24 teams.
Of those 24 teams six call Niagara home, and all are based in the Golden Horseshoe Conference.
The St. Catharines Falcons, Fort Erie Meteors, Niagara Falls Canucks, Thorold Blackhawks (playing out of Port Colborne), Welland Jr. Canadians, and Pelham Panthers are the six local junior B hockey teams, and all six started their playoffs this week.
The Hamilton Kilty B’s and Caledonia Corvairs round out the eight-team Golden Horseshoe Conference.
The defending Sutherland Cup Champion Falcons finished first overall and are playing eighth ranked Pelham to open the postseason.
No. 2 Hamilton is taking on seventh seeded Welland.
Third ranked Fort Erie is facing No. 6 Niagara Falls, while number four Caledonia takes on No. 5 Thorold.
All series are best of seven, and St. Catharines Falcons General Manager Frank Girhiny broke down all the series recently on the Niagara Sports Report on Newstalk 610 CKTB.
Girhiny spoke of the Falcons series with Pelham first off.
“Bryan Kelly is a coach that will have them (Pelham) ready. They played us exceptionally hard every time we played them. We just need to play our game, and stay within ourselves and I think we’ll be fine as the series goes on,” Girhiny said.
As for Hamilton and Welland. Girhiny admits the Kilty B’s have been right there, standings wise, all season with the Falcons.
“Their depth. Four lines. Really good. Good defense. They play in a small rink so they’re tough to play against,” said Girhiny.
If Wednesday’s Game 1 1-0 overtime final for Fort Erie over Niagara Falls was any indication, the three vs. six series could be a thriller.
Girhiny praised the Passero brothers for what they’ve brought to the Meteors organization, but didn’t count out former NHLer Frank Pietrangelo and his Niagara Falls Canucks either.
“It starts with Nik (head coach) and his brother Anthony (assistant),” Girhiny explained. “They’re a new age, wave of coaching. They’re going to be really tough as the playoffs go on.”
That’s going to be a close series. Frank (Pietrangelo) always has his teams prepared come playoff time.”
The last series features Thorold and Caledonia.
“To mean that’s a flip ’em’ with a coin,” said Girhiny.
All Scott Barnes (head coach of Thorold) teams never stop or quit. This series is a pick ’em too, and will be a fun series to watch as well.”
The following is the remaining schedules for all four Golden Horseshoe Conference Playoff Series:
St. Catharines (1) vs. Pelham (8)
Game 2: Friday, March 3, at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, March 5 at Pelham, 2:45 p.m.
Game 4: Tuesday, March 7 at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
*Game 5: Wednesday, March 8 at Pelham, 7:45 p.m.
*Game 6: Friday, March 10 at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
*Game 7: Monday, March 13 at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
Hamilton (2) vs. Welland (7)
Game 2: Saturday, March 4 at Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, March 5 at Welland, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Tuesday, March 7 at Welland, 7 p.m.
*Game 5: Thursday, March 9 at Hamilton, 7 p.m.
*Game 6: Sunday, March 12 at Welland, 7 p.m.
*Game 7: Monday, March 13 at Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Fort Erie (3) vs. Niagara Falls (6)
Game 2: Friday, March 3 at Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday, March 4 at Fort Erie, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Tuesday, March 7 at Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
*Game 5: Wednesday, March 8 at Fort Erie, 7 p.m.
*Game 6: Friday, March 10 at Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
*Game 7: Saturday, March 11 at Fort Erie, 7 p.m.
Caledonia (4) vs. Thorold (5)
Game 2: Friday, March 3 at Port Colborne, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday, March 4 at Caledonia, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: Monday, March 6 at Port Colborne, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 5: Wednesday, March 8 at Caledonia, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 6: Friday, March 10 at Port Colborne, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 7: Saturday, March 11 at Caledonia, 7:30 p.m.
*Denotes 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.