The Okanagan Rockets begin their playoff run on Friday night when they host the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds at Prospera Place in Kelowna.
The Rockets, who finished 4th in the BCMML standings with 51 points, are coming off a weekend series against the Cariboo Cougars that took place at the Capital News Centre. Okanagan would drop both games on home ice by 3-1 and 6-4 scores, finishing the 2015/16 regular season with the same record as they did in the 2014/15 season at 23-12-5.
The Thunderbirds, who finished 5th in the BCMML standings with 43 points, come into the playoff series after collecting 3 of a possible 4 points in their regular season finale against the South Island Royals. The T-Birds tied the Royals on Saturday afternoon but came out with a 5-3 win on Sunday, earning them 5th place in the league with a 17-14-9 record.
Okanagan and Fraser Valley played one of the more peculiar four-game season series’ against one another, with the Rockets besting the T-Birds with a 1-0-3 record through those four games. A 4-4 tie started things off between the two at the 1st BCMML Showcase while earning a 6-4 win the next day in Richmond. The last time these two teams squared off was just three weeks ago in Kelowna with 1-1 and 3-3 ties rounding out the regular season series between OK and FV.
The Rockets will look to turn around what was a rocky February, finishing the month with a 2-4-2 record including two ties against the T-Birds in mid-February. The T-Birds, on the other hand, haven’t lost a game in three weekends (6 games) as they boast a 3-0-3 record since the start of February.
This will be only the 2nd meeting between the Rockets and Thunderbirds in the playoffs with the first coming in 2012/13. Okanagan swept Fraser Valley with dominating 7-0 and 10-2 wins en route to a Telus Cup National Bronze Medal.
The Rockets will head into Game #1 on Friday night with some bumps and bruises, which is expected at this time of year. The good news is that Lucas Cullen will return to the lineup for Game #1 but the Rockets will be without forward Hayden Dick, who is sitting for a one-game suspension, as well Shawn Guison who sits with an injury. Hayden Courtney will be a game-time decision with a nagging injury. The Rockets will welcome AP forwards Will Reimer and Kaden Meszaros to the lineup tonight.
The Rockets and T-Birds will be back at it again with Game #2 on Saturday night from CNC #2 at 5:15 pm with someone having a chance to advance to the BCMML semi-finals. All games in the series and for every game can be seen live on www.playfullscreen.com.