The Brooks Bandits once again showed they are the best team in the Central Junior Hockey League (CJHL) with a dominating performance in a 4-1 win over the Pickering Panthers to claim their third National Junior A championship and second Centennial Cup in a row.
The Bandits outshot the Panthers 44-11 on their way to the victory, but it was not as easy as it sounds. Despite outshooting Pickering 28-4 over two periods, Brooks actually trailed 1-0, thanks to the outstanding play of Panthers netminder Zachary Roy, before storming back with four unanswered goals in the third period.
Brooks, representing the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), is only the fourth team to win back-to-back national championships and the third to win at least three national titles, joining Vernon (6) and Prince Albert (4).
The Bandits were dominant throughout the tournament, handily dispatching most of their preliminary round opponents, including a 9-1 win over Pickering in round-robin play. Brooks crushed Collège Francais de Longueuil 11-2 in the semi finals.
The Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) champion Ottawa Junior Senators played well in the tournament, but had some tough losses to just miss out on a playoff spot. The Senators opened with a close 2-1 loss to the Dauphin Kings on Friday, May 20, and then dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Flin Flon Bombers of the SJHL on Saturday, May 21.
Ottawa then took a convincing 4-0 win over the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL on Monday, May 23, to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. But Ottawa’s second overtime loss of the tournament, a 4-3 win by the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League, eliminated the Junior Senators from playing in the quarter finals.
NHL Conference final predictions
After going 7-1 in the first round of the playoffs, I had a tougher second round, incorrectly predicting the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes would advance. I did however correctly call Colorado to roll over the St. Louis Blues. So after two rounds I am now 8-4. I’ll take it.
Now onto Round 3. I’m not going to make the mistake of betting against the Oilers and Lightning again… or am I?
Edmonton Oilers (49-27-6) vs Colorado Avalanche (56-19-7)
Edmonton has a good chance to win the Stanley Cup this year, with McDavid and Draisaitl getting a point in every game and just playing fantastic hockey. I’m not going to ignore the elephant in the room, but if you look at Mike Smith’s record in the playoffs he’s been pretty solid in net for the Oilers so far – provided you can ignore than one little mistake where he let in a shot from the opposing blueline. Hey, pobody’s nerfect. Colorado has a great team and they’re hungry, so they are going to put up a fight. This is going to be a fantastic series.
Edmonton in 7
New York Rangers (52-24-6) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (51-23-8)
Hmm… let’s see… I’ve only called three series wrong in the playoffs through two rounds and two of them were betting against the defending two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lighting. I’m not making that mistake again! This series is going to be a goaltending duel, as Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning are both great goaltenders capable of stealing games for their team. But Stamkos, Kucherov, Perry, Hedman, Sergachev and Point will be hard to stop – especially on the power play. Hard to bet against Vasilevskiy – the guy has been unbeatable in elimination games. But he won’t have to face one this time.
Tampa Bay in 6
95-year-old sets Canadian record in first ever race
Competing in her first-ever race, 95-year-old Rejeanne Fairhead, of Ottawa, set a Canadian record by completing the 5K in 58 minutes during the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend last Saturday (May 28).
Fairhead was the oldest participant this year in the Ottawa Race Weekend, which had more than 25,000 participants in the events. The energetic senior was raising money for the Perley Health Foundation.