The Dawson Creek Senior Canucks are first in the league — taking the Lawrence Cup — after winning 10-2 over the East Division champions, the Falher Pirates, in the regular season finale at home Saturday night.
Dolan Bjornson’s natural hattrick in the second period and five points led the way.
“Sometimes you just get a couple of lucky ones,” says Bjornson, humbly.
Ryan Friesen also managed a hattrick himself.
The game initially looked like it might play out a lot differently than it did.
Kevin Hope scored just 1:17 in, but Falher responded just 40 seconds later. However, what looked like it might be a back and forth game, turned out to be all DC, with the Canucks scoring eight straight goals before the Pirates found themselves on the scoresheet again too late.
Kenton White made 32 saves (.941 SV%).
First in the league is quite an accomplishment, especially when you consider that East Division teams play four more games than their West Division counterparts. (Win percentage is not considered in the NPHL).
"Any closer to the banner we get, gets more and more exciting. It's been a fun year since I've been here and honestly, I can’t wait to get into the playoffs with the boys and see if we can start making history,” says Friesen.
But while the team was certainly happy with the accomplishment, you didn’t see the players celebrate too hard — the real work is just beginning.
“The playoffs are what matters,” notes Bjornson.
“It’s nice, it’s good that we’ve put together a good season, and to finish first is definitely an honour, but the season that we want is starting now,” says head coach Chris Stevens.
What’s made the team so successful this year?
“Everyone’s will to want to win, we’re all on the same page when we show up to the rink, we’ve got a great group of guys, great character. I think once you get a good group of guys and good character, it makes for success all around,” notes Friesen.
“We’re just really deep this year, and if one line is getting matched, it seems like another line can step up and outplay one of their other lines. We’re really deep, we have 20 guys a night and even guys that are sitting on any given night that can play at the top of the league,” explains Bjornson.
But even with the talent they have, and the depth, they have to play hard and outcompete the other teams if they are to be successful in the playoffs. They saw that first hand the game before, when they surprisingly lost 5-0 to the Fort St. John Flyers. (The Canucks have only four losses on the season).
“They gave us a hard game and probably a learning lesson for the playoffs,” says Friesen.
“Right from myself to every player in that room was frustrated after that game the other night, we just didn’t compete, and no one was happy. It was good for us, it shows if we don’t show up, how bad we can really be,” says Stevens. “John’s a good team and they walked all over us, and I think it was a big wakeup call.”
For now, the Senior C’s get to rest. With the divisional title, they get a first round bye, and will play the lowest seed remaining in the east after the first round of the playoffs — either the winner of the Manning-Grimshaw series, or High Prairie if they somehow manage to beat Falher.
“That rest is going to be huge, because it’s going to get busy, that Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday games every week, and the practice is going to be important these next couple weeks and get our systems locked down here before the playoffs start, before the really meaningful hockey gets underway,” says Stevens.
And needless to say, with the way they’ve played this season, they like their odds.
“There’s not a team that can play with us when we’re intense and aggressive. We’re too deep. If we play like that, we’re good to go,” says Bjornson.