The Mission City Outlaws now know who they’ll face in round one of their title defense, and they’ll have a pair of tough tune-up tests this weekend to prepare for what lies ahead.
The Ridge Meadows Flames clinched third in the Conference with a 3-0 win over Richmond thursday. It was the 9th time they have blanked a team this season, something their first round opponents, the Pilots, are sure to make a note of. Just for good measure, they stonewalled the Panthers 3-0 Friday for their 10th team shutout in their final game.
That sets up the Outlaws third-ever playoff meeting with the Aldergrove Kodiaks, with Game one starting Tuesday.
Up next though are a pair of home games against Abbotsford (Saturday) and Delta (Sunday).
Here’s why I feel these games are so much more than ones used to finished up the 2016-17 regular season campaign.
If the Outlaws can win both games, which will be challenging, they will finish .500 on the season, a pretty impressive feat for a team that was 12-19-2 after the Winter Classic, a team that had also lost it’s top scorer (and the league’s second leading scorer) and was struggling to find the back of the net.
The Outlaws have gone on a 6-1-2 run since then, outscoring their opponents 47-21 in the process. Wins over the current leaders in the Shaw and runners up in the Brittain would do wonders for the Outlaws confidence at a time when they would need it most.
Image Credit: John Morrow Photo
A win over Abbotsford would not only even the season series, but it would be the Outlaws third straight over their arch rivals who they swept in last year’s Conference finals.
Image Credit: Doug Abbott Photo
A win over Delta would not only give the Outlaws their first ‘W’ against the Ice Hawks this year, but would allow them to possibly play the role of spoiler in Delta’s quest to win the conference.
Win both games by a combined total of three or more goals and the Outlaws will have scored more than they allowed.
Even more than the wins, is the way they play in those games that will dictate how they feel on the eve of the post season.
There are also some individual marks up for grabs in the final two games.
Ryan Sharma sits just one goal back of David McGowan for third in all-time goal scoring for the Outlaws with 41. Should he go on an absolute tear, the second place holder Brody Dyck’s career mark of 48 is a long shot, but within the realm of reality.
Sharma has already cliched second in all-time assists in Outlaws history with 81, but won’t come close to Brice Pisiak’s 136. Sharma, Michal Holub and Sammy Zeinab occupy fourth through sixth in league assists at the moment.
Jackson Waniek has 68 career goals spread out from his time with six different PJHL outfits. That puts him 14th all-time in PJHL history. He’s just two back of Trevor Kang, who played for three PJHL teams over his junior career and three goals back of Kodiak great Stephen Ryan.
If Kyle Mooney can pot one more, he’ll become the eighth Outlaw to hit double digits. Mooney had also had three goals disallowed this year.
Matt Trulsen is just 21 shots shy of facing a 1000 in his rookie season. Not bad for a guy who’s save percentage is .915%.
Gideon Hill will call both games on playfullscreen.com, with Justis Doucet on colour Saturday (6:45) and yours truly (Warren Andrews) on colour Sunday (8:15).