Coming off of a tough Game 7 loss in the Eastlink South Division Final to the Truro Bearcats, the Valley Wildcats have just completed a top end playoff run across the board. It all started in round one taking down the division’s number one seed Yarmouth Mariners in six games. This series included two quality road wins for the Cats’ at Mariners Centre which set the tone. Followed up by an epic seven game tilt with Truro , there is certainly a lot for this team to be proud of.
Head Coach & General Manager Brandon Benedict had his team exceptionally ready for this postseason and it showed by the production from all parts of the lineup.
It all started in goal where Antoine Lyonnais was nothing short of phenomenal in 13 games played. He posted a 2.18 GAA and .938 SV% with a whopping 451 saves made over that stretch. This was a full 87 saves more than any other goaltender in the MHL playoffs. To say he earned the respect of a league would be an understatement.
The forward corps were their usual powerful selves led by Captain Luke Wilson who posted a team leading twelve playoff points, including six goals scored. The late season acquisition of Riley Spears also proved to be a fantastic move with Spears playoff production being third in team scoring with five goals and four assists. The highlight reel was not complete without the emergence of Ethan Kearney’s goal scoring touch. He led the team in playoff goals with seven to his credit, along with three assists. Kearney single-handedly sparked the team on so many nights over this playoff run.
Not to be overshadowed was the welcome point production from the Wildcats blueline. Four of the team’s top seven playoff scorers came from the group of defencemen, led by Matt Power’s seven points in 13 games. Assistant Captain Vincent Bujold continued to be a force in two-way play as he’s been all season long for this Wildcats’ squad.
This playoff run ignited the fan base like no other, with the Kings Mutual Century Centre being a packed house all postseason long. It may not have been the end result the team would’ve wanted to provide, but these playoffs have made a clear statement that the Valley Wildcats hockey program is here to stay amongst the league elite in the MHL.
photo credit: Gary Manning, Sports Photos NS