The Delta Ice Hawks will open their Pacific Junior Hockey League title defence against the Aldergrove Kodiaks in a best-of-seven quarter-final series.
Game one goes Tuesday (7:35 p.m.) in Ladner before the teams head to Aldergrove Wednesday (7:15 p.m.). The rest of the schedule is expected to be finalized today with the Hawks having Sundays as a second additional home date.
No. 2 seed Delta (32-7-2-3) finished 24 points better than the No. 7 seed Kodiaks (22-21-1-0) in the final standings and also won all four regular season meetings (6-1, 6-1, 4-2, 5-2). But all that means now is one additional home game.
The Hawks have been engaged for the better part of two months in a three-team battle with North Vancouver and Richmond for first overall honours.
The teams combined for a 26-8-0 record since Jan. 1 that included Delta reeling off 10 straight wins to close out its schedule. The Wolf Pack needed a win on Saturday against White Rock to secure first place while the Sockeyes ended up as the No. 3 seed despite a 9-3-0 record in the new year.
Delta will enter the post-season coming off a week’s rest which GM and head Steve Robinson used for quality practice time after a three-game stretch against non-playoff teams — Surrey, Port Moody and White Rock.
“It was a tough stretch of games (after beating Richmond) where it was hard to find the intensity. We were focused (on three) good practices before getting back to meaningful and intense games that the playoffs bring,” he said.
Robinson has also added some depth to the blueline with the signing of Jayden Ghieuw — an 18-year-old Vancouver Thunderbirds product who played for the Major Midget Greater Vancouver Canadians during the 2017-18 campaign.
“He hasn’t played this season so is a little rusty but a helpful depth addition to our biggest area of need to augment our depth heading into the playoffs.”
The Hawks have just five d-man on their roster since early January when Jesse Conroy signed with the B.C. Hockey League’s Surrey Eagles.
Thomas Garey, a regular a year ago, has been a valuable AP player when he doesn’t have school commitments. Forwards Dillon Maher and Mark Esphstein have also taken shifts at the back.
Maher scored his first-ever BCHL goal as a call-up for the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday in a 5-3 loss to Merritt. One night earlier, Hawks' d-man Nick Marsh scored twice for the Clippers in a 6-5 win at Alberni Valley. The 19-year-old has played eight games as an AP with Nanaimo this season.