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The South Division Semi-Finals will start on Friday night in Brooks and Calgary.
Brooks Bandits (1) vs. Olds Grizzlys (7)
For the second time in four years, the Bandits and Grizzlys will meet in the South semi-finals. In 2014 the Bandits would sweep the Grizzlys in four games, outscoring them 24-10.
Brooks will be playing for the first time in 13 days but are used to having the extended break having won the South Division five of the last six years and getting first round byes in those years. No doubt the biggest reason the Grizzlys were able to sweep the Eagles and advance was that of their goaltender Ben Giesbrecht who made 160 saves on 168 shots in the first round.
The Bandits took all six meetings against the Grizzlys this season with just one of those games going to overtime. Head to head this season Oliver Chau led Brooks offensively with 15 points (4G, 11A), Tyrell Mappin was right behind Chau with 12 points (6G, 6A) while Cale Makar (2G, 7A) nine points was third on the team. On the other side of the rink, Landon Gross (3G, 3A) six points were the most for Olds against the Bandits. Gross also leads the team so far in the postseason with (2G, 3A) five points. Ryley Smith (3G, 1A) and Try Thompson (2G, 2A) each had four points against Brooks during the six game season series. In goal, Alex Horawski and Mitchel Benson were both 3-0 with Horawski posting a 0.920 save % and 1.98 GAA while Benson had a 0.901 save% and 2.00 GAA. On the other side, Ben Giesbrecht was 0-3-1 with a 0.877 save% and 5.94 GAA while Andrew Henderson was 0-2 with a 0.933 save% and 3.50 GAA.
Brooks has beaten Olds in 12 straight games. The last time the Grizzlys were able to defeat Brooks was on February 16, 2015. If the Olds wants to pull off a second consecutive upset, they are once again going to need their goaltender to steal a couple of games. For Brooks, they have to shake off the rust early (something they are used to doing) and continue their regular season/playoff success.
Calgary Canucks (2) vs. Okotoks Oilers (3)
For the second consecutive year, the Okotoks Oilers and Calgary Canucks will meet in the playoffs. Last year the Oilers swept the first round series in three games.
The Canucks and Oilers took different routes to the second round. The Oilers swept the Kodiaks (despite a game one scare) while the Canucks had to go the distance before taking out the Dragons in game five.
Calgary will play their sixth game in nine days when they open their series with the Oilers on Friday (check sked) as for the Oilers they have been off since Sunday and will look to take advantage of good rest between rounds. Zac McNeill led the offense for the Canucks in round one tallying six points in four games. For the Oilers, their offense was led by Nolan Thompson and Tanner Laderoute who each had five points in three games. In goal Riley Morris is 3-0 with a 1.15 GAA and 0.950 save% while Logan Drackett is 3-2 with a 2.66 GAA and 0.917 save%.
Okotoks took five of six games in the regular season series with the last game between the two clubs going to a shootout that the Oilers won. At times goals were hard to come by for the two teams as Okotoks would outscore Calgary 19-11 in the six games. Trey Degraaf had eight points (3G, 5A) against the Canucks this season, Carson Beers was right behind his teammate with seven points (3G, 4A). Jordan Xavier also had seven points (2G, 5A) against the Canucks but four of those points were when he was with the Calgary Mustangs. Jordan McConnell (2G, 2A) and Mark Drohan (1G, 3A) who each had four points and were the top offensive performers for the Canucks. In goal, Riley Morris got the start in all the games for the Oilers posting a 5-1 record with a 0.946 save% and 1.81 GAA. Logan Drackett got the start in four games for Calgary posting a 1-2-1 record with a 0.920 save% and 2.46 GAA, while AP goaltender Branden Bilodeau was 0-2 with a 0.873 save% and 4.57 GAA.
Keys to success for Okotoks will be to use their experience of a deeper playoff run as the Oilers make their 10th trip in 11 years to the second round. For the Canucks, their key will be not to get caught up in the pressures of the second round as the team makes just their third trip to the second round since 2005/06. In both their previous appearances in the second round, the Canucks were swept (2012-Brooks, 2005-Camrose).
Story by Chris Colwell @Cjcolwell