The Mission City Outlaws are matched against the Langley Trappers in round one of the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The best-of-seven series opened Wednesday night with the Outlaws travelling to the George Preston Recreation Centre. Results were not available at press time.
Mission closed the season on Saturday, falling 3-2 to the Trappers in a hotly contested game.
The Trappers opened the scoring at 8:12 with a power play goal, but the Outlaws responded 90 seconds later, when Justin Plett tied the game.
Mission’s Justin Hargrave put the Outlaws up 2-1 in the second, but the third period saw Langley score two goals, one on the power play, to earn the 3-2 win.
Mission outshot Langley 49-30 in the game, but the Trappers’ power play was effective, going two for six.
Mission failed to convert on all six of its opportunities. Outlaws starting goalie Daniel Zuvic made 27 saves in a losing cause.
The Trappers beat the Outlaws all four times the clubs faced off this season, with Langley winning 4-1 on Oct. 23, 3-1 on Dec. 14, 6-2 on Jan. 29 and the recent 3-2 win on Saturday.
Langley finished first in the Harold Brittain Conference with a record of 27-14-1-2, while Mission placed fourth with a record of 21-19-3-1.
One of the key players Mission will have to try to stop is forward Casey Whintors, who finished fourth in league scoring with 66 points in 39 games. Defenceman Braden Warburton is another player to watch, as he led all rearguards in points and was seventh in league scoring with 52 points in 39 games.
Special teams will also be a battle to look out for, as the Trappers had the best penalty kill in the PJHL during the regular season at almost 87 per cent. Langley also had the third-best power play, operating at 22 per cent.
Mission will lean on captain Justin Hargrave, who finished with 42 points in 42 games to lead the Outlaws. Hargrave finished 22nd overall in league scoring. Forwards Dylan Tonks and Blake Clease (33 and 31 points respectively) will also be asked to step up in the postseason.
The battle in the crease will likely see Trappers rookie Ajeetpal Gundarah man the nets for Langley. Gundarah had the top save percentage in the PJHL this season at .928 and compiled a record of 15-7-1 and a goals-against average of 2.62. Langley also has a capable backup in rookie Cooper Giesbrecht.
Mission’s Daniel Zuvic, who finished tied for sixth in the PJHL with 14 wins, will likely be the starter for the Outlaws. Isaac Elias may also see some action in the playoffs.
Game two of the series is set for Saturday at the Mission Leisure Centre, and game three shifts back to Langley on Monday, with game four scheduled for the MLC on Feb. 18. If necessary, game five would occur Feb. 20 in Langley, game six on Feb. 22 in Mission and game seven in Langley on Feb. 26.