Junior AA teams vie for playoff supremacy

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BY MICHAEL SOMMA

One round of the Junior AA hockey playoffs is in the books, so it’s time to recap as we look forward to the rest of the postseason.

The league is composed of nine squads divided into two divisions, with one team from each side to square off in the final at the end of March. To get there, they’ll first need to defeat two division rivals in consecutive best of three series.

The Lions division, comprised of four squads from the West Island, was cut down to two following the opening round.

After closing out the regular season on a 16-game undefeated streak, the top seeded West Island Royals looked to continue their success against the Deux Rives Dolphins. The Dolphins, however, had other plans, ending the Royals streak in the first game with a 3-2 win. After the Royals took the second game 6-3, they met in the deciding contest last Wednesday, where the Dolphins delivered the first surprise of the postseason, knocking off the three time defending champs with another 3-2 victory. Despite a spirited third period, the Royals weren’t able to overcome a 3-0 deficit, ensuring a new champion will be crowned in 2008.

The other divisional match-up pitted the second place Lakeshore Panthers against the third place Dollard des Ormeaux Pirates. This series also went to the limit, with the final game disputed Sunday. The Pirates held a 3-1 advantage with mere minutes remaining, but the resilient Panthers battled back, scoring the equalizer with just 15 seconds to spare. Overtime settled nothing, meaning a shootout would decide the fate of these two teams. Lakeshore’s fourth shooter, Alex Bernier, buried his attempt and goaltender Kevin Butterfill turned away the next Dollard effort, sending the Panthers through to face the Dolphins.

While Deux Rives emerged the victor in two of the three previous confrontations, Lakeshore fared better against the rest of the league over the course of the season. The winner will advance to the finals, which will again be a best of three series to be played at the Dollard Civic Centre.

They winner will then meet the best of the Patriotes division, which encompassed five teams from Montreal and its outskirts. Of these, the Suroit Express, the Verdun/Lasalle Cobras, the Beauval Étoiles and the Beauval Stars remain in competition. The Express and the Cobras currently lead their respective series and are heavily favoured to meet in the division finals, which will begin next week.

Organizations: Dolphins, Lions division, Panthers Pirates Dollard Civic Centre Patriotes division Suroit Express

Geographic location: West Island, Montreal

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