Four teams remain in the 2019 Prairie Junior Hockey League playoff picture as they fight to be one of this year's finalists for a shot at the championship.
The Bob Dybvig Division Finals of the PJHL get underway tomorrow night with the Delisle Chiefs hosting the Saskatoon Quakers to begin their series. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. from the Delisle Centennial Arena.
Home games will alternate throughout the series between the two teams with Game 4 taking place in Saskatoon on Friday, March 22nd. If necessary, Game 5 and 7 will be in Delisle while Game 6 takes place at the Rod Hamm Arena.
- Game 1: Saskatoon Quakers @ Delisle Chiefs – Friday, March 15th at 8:00 p.m., Centennial Arena, Delisle, SK
- Game 2: Delisle Chiefs @ Saskatoon Quakers – Saturday, March 16th at 7:45 p.m., Rod Hamm Arena, Saskatoon, SK
- Game 3: Saskatoon Quakers @ Delisle Chiefs – Tuesday, March 19th at 7:45 p.m., Centennial Arena, Delisle, SK
- Game 4: Delisle Chiefs @ Saskatoon Quakers – Friday, March 22nd at 7:45 p.m., Rod Hamm Arena, Saskatoon, SK
- * Game 5: Saskatoon Quakers @ Delisle Chiefs – Saturday, March 23rd at 7:30 p.m., Centennial Arena, Delisle, SK
- * Game 6: Delisle Chiefs @ Saskatoon Quakers – Tuesday, March 26th at 7:30 p.m., Rod Hamm Arena, Saskatoon, SK
- * Game 7: Saskatoon Quakers @ Delisle Chiefs – Wednesday, March 27th at 8:00 p.m., Centennial Arena, Delisle, SK
* - If necessary
When looking back on the 2018-2019 campaign, the Chiefs had the better performances, taking the regular season matchup 4-1. Interestingly enough, the Quakers are the only club to have defeated the Delisle junior B side in regulation, a 4-1 win at the Centennial Arena back on November 23rd. Delisle's only other loss this season was a 4-3 overtime victory for the Carrot River Outback Thunder back on February 1st.
The Chiefs ended the regular season as the league's top team with a record of 38-1-1-0, totalling 77 points in 40 games, good enough for home ice advantage throughout the post-season. In their first playoff action versus the Saskatoon Royals, who won the three-game Survivor Series versus the West Central Rage, the league pennant winners easily handled their quarterfinal opponents by sweeping the series 4-0 with an emphatic 25 goals for to the Royals' 7.
Eric Ditto, head coach and assistant general manager, explains that it was a difficult matchup to open their playoff run despite a couple lopsided victories.
Delisle wasn't the only PJHL club to win every game of their second round matchup either. Their next opponents, the Saskatoon Quakers, won their series with the Saskatoon Westleys in four games. On the other side of the bracket, both the Regina Capitals and Fort Knox were able to defeat the Assiniboia Southern Rebels and the Traveland RV Storm respectively in four.
But here with the Chiefs and Quakers in the Bob Dybvig Division Finals, fans will get to witness the two best teams from the league standings go head-to-head before the championship itself. To put it in another way, it'll be the best offence in the league versus the best defence.
The Saskatoon club piled on 252 goals over the regular season, the most out of any team in league. They also allowed the third-fewest goals behind the league-leading Cheifs (82) and Capitals (108). What the Chiefs defence will want to focus on in this series is shutting down two of the most gifted attackers in the PJHL.
Ditto tells us more about the message he has been relaying to his players ahead of Game 1 tomorrow night.
The coaching staff have been doing lots of work with the players going into their next contest. For the Chiefs, they haven't played a game since March 8 when they stomped the Royals 9-1.
Dealing with an extended break for his side, Ditto shares what they have been doing in the meantime to get ready for the Quakers.
As last year's runners up, the Chiefs are playing the best hockey in team history as they aim to return to the league championship. When viewing how they have stacked up against their opponents this season, there's a reason why people see them as the favourites to take it all this season.
Between the three other teams left in the playoffs, they only lost once to the Quakers during the regular season and won every game against Fort Knox and the defending champions – the Regina Capitals.
If the Chiefs do become the 2019 PJHL champions, it will be the their first PJHL title in team history.