Okanagan Conference playoff preview

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s playoffs hit the ice Friday with teams pursuit of the Teck Cup.


Here are snapshots of the matchups from the two divisions.


Doug Birks:


Revelstoke Grizzlies (1) vs. Kamloops Storm (4):


How they got here: The Grizzlies finished second overall in the league with 39 wins and 82 points. They enjoyed a hot ride into the playoffs with nine wins in their final 10 games. The Storm meanwhile, clinched a playoff spot with 22 wins, six (Chase, North Okanagan, Sicamous and Osoyoos) of those coming in their final 10 games. The Grizzlies look to defend their KIJHL championship.


Players to watch: Offensively, the Grizzlies are led by Cody Flann, who put up 59 points in 38 games. Rookie Jake Petrie led in goals with 24, followed by Jake Huculak’s 23 (15 in 35 games following a trade from Grand Forks) and rookie Brandon Kasdorf with 20. Between the pipes, the Grizzlies have the Doug Birks Top Goalie in Noah Desouza, who recorded 21 wins with seven shutouts to go with a sparkling 1.70 goals against average with a .933 save percentage. The Storm are led by Theran Kincross with 50 points in 47 games. They have two 20-goal scorers in Yewta Plamondon and Chris Thon, each with 21. They also received strong play from rookie defenceman Brendan Kirschner, who had eight goals and 34 points in 43 games.


Season Series: The Grizzlies dominated the series with five wins in six games, outscoring the Storm 22-12.


Chase Heat (2) vs. 100 Mile House (3):


How they got here: The Heat (30 W, 16 L, 1 T, 2OTL) finished with 63 points in the standings. They won seven of their final 10 games, with wins over Sicamous, twice, Princeton and Summerland. The Wranglers (25 W, 20 L, 2 T, 2 OTL) finished with 54 points. They closed out the season with eight wins, with victories over Sicamous, North Okanagan, Osoyoos and Revelstoke.


Players to watch: The Heat are led by the division’s top scorer, Breckin Erichuk who put up 21 goals and 61 points. Gavin Mattey scored 24 goals, while Colton Nikiforuk had 23. Cam Watson was named the division’s top defenceman and had nine goals and 34 points. In goal, Vince Benedetto collected 16 wins. The Wranglers are led by Darian Long, who had 25 goals and 51 points. Cory Loring, who joined the Wranglers at the trade deadline from Summerland, put up 14 goals and 22 points after the trade. Khale Skinner also had 23 goals, while Jordan Wilde earned 15 wins.


Season Series: The Heat had the edge in the series with three wins, two losses and a tie. They edged the Wranglers in goals 23-22.


Read: KIJHL divisional award winners

Bill Ohlhausen Division


Kelowna Chiefs (1) vs. North Okanagan Knights (4)


How They Got Here: The Chiefs (32 W, 12 L, 3 T, 2 OTL) finished with 69 points, nine points ahead of the Posse. They closed out the regular season with six wins (North Okanagan, Summerland, Osoyoos and Golden). The Knights (13 W, 30 L, 1 T, 5 OTL) struggled in their final 10, winning just once, against Osoyoos, who also struggled at the end as the two fought for the final playoff spot.


Players to Watch: Kayson Gallant of the Chiefs led the division in scoring and was named its most valuable player with  33 goals and 63 points. Rookie Porter Dawson, the league’s overall rookie of the year and for his division, had 23 goals and 63 points. In goal, Braeden Mitchell earned 19 wins with two shutouts, a 2.35 goals against average and .925 save percentage. For the Knights, Kevin-Thomas Walters led with 18 goals and 34 points, in second was Tyler Cheetham, the most sportsmanlike player in the division, with 12 goals and 33 points. Goalie Sean Kanervisto earned 15 wins.


Season Series: The Chiefs won the series with three wins, two losses and a tie. They outscored the Knights 22-18.


Read: Dynamiters Palmer wins KIJHL MVP award


Princeton Posse (2) vs. Summerland Steam (3)


How they got here: The Posse (27 W, 16 L, 1 T, 5 OTL) finished with 60 points, 11 ahead of the Steam (22 W, 22 L, 1 T, 4 OTL). The Posse closed out the regular season with five wins (Summerland and North Okanagan twice.) The Steam closed finished with four wins in their final 10 over Osoyoos, Princeton twice.)


Players to watch: Brendan Adams led the Posse with 27 goals and 63 points. He was followed by Aubrey MacLeod with 19 goals and 50 points, while Noah Brusse, the league’s top defenceman, had 12 goals and 39 points. In goal, Jaysen MacLean had 13 wins, while newcomer Scott Bird had nine and a 1.97 goals against average. The Steam were led by Cody Swan with 55 points, Morey Babakaiff had 21 goals, while Matthew Byrne had 18 goals and Mitch Gove had 31 points in 30 games. Eric Scherger had 15 wins.


Season Series: Princeton won it with three wins, two losses and an overtime loss.