The Buccaneers finished their best-ever regular season this week, but it’s what they do next that will matter most.
“We’ve had a great season here, but at the end of the day, the only thing people are going to remember is if you had success in the playoffs,” said Dan Lemmon, coach of the junior B hockey team.
The Bucs will take on the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in a first-round best-of-seven series starting tonight (Feb. 23) in Nanaimo.
The Buccaneers have won their last six games against the Yetis, but Lemmon said the opposition has been playing better hockey of late and has gotten healthier.
“Everyone’s been talking about us and Campbell River [in the division final] but we’d be stupid to overlook Comox…” Lemmon said. “We’re going to have to make sure that we’re ready to go for all 60 minutes of every game we play against them in this series.”
He said the Glacier Kings have a high-powered offence, a great goaltender and a steady, stay-at-home D corps.
“We have a lot of similarities between our teams and it’s going to come down to who’s playing the better hockey, who’s working the hardest and who’s doing the little things right,” Lemmon said.
If the Buccaneers have an advantage, he said, it’s with depth, and that means discipline will be an important factor if the Bucs plan to take advantage of their depth by rolling four lines.
Dawson Heathcote, who led the Buccaneers in scoring this season with 54 points, said his team feels good about its playoff matchup.
“I think we’re really confident,” he said. “We’ve really bound together as a team here and if we play our systems and Bucs hockey, we’ll have no problem there. We’ve just got to make sure we come [to play] every night and we’ll have success.”
The Buccaneers enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. Their 31-16-0-1 record included an 18-5-0-1 clip in the second half of the season.
“With the personnel we have and the way we’ve been playing and the way the group’s stuck together and the leadership that we have, we have an opportunity here to go a long way,” Lemmon said. “But everything’s got to be earned.”
GAME ON … Game 1 is tonight at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Game 2 will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Comox Valley Sportsplex. Game 3 will be Monday at 7 p.m. at the NIC.
Nanaimo Buccaneers finish the regular season 31-16-0-1, establishing a new franchise record for wins. (Bucs won 27 games in 2012-13)… pic.twitter.com/qwDCTp0AfZ
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) February 22, 2017