For the Dawson Creek Senior Canucks, the dream of winning an NPHL championship is over.
The Canucks were bounced from playoff contention when the Grande Prairie Athletics, themselves already eliminated, came into Dawson Creek and beat the Canucks 7-6 on Feb. 17. The Fort St. John Flyers won the West division playoffs with 11 points, and will advance to the NPHL final, which begins on March 3, against either the Falher Pirates or High Prairie Regals. The Canucks finished the playoffs tied with the Athletics with five points, and identical 2-3-1 records through six games.
“It’s disappointing to be out already, it’s a tough way to go in that series. We still had a chance and wanted to push it to a deciding game,” said Canucks head coach Chris Stevens.
The Canucks were in a situation where they had to win their final three games just to have a chance at a tie-break game against the Flyers, but they couldn’t win the first one.
“We battled hard in the playoffs, but it took us too long to get into it, and losing the first two games the way we did hurt,” Stevens said.
The 2018-18 NPHL season will go down as a missed opportunity for the Canucks, yet it can also be seen as the start of something new. The team was full of new, important additions, like Dolan Bjornson and Kenton White, and the energy the new players brought showed.
“It’s definitely a positive. Going into the future in the next couple years, there will be some more guys finishing the junior ranks this year that will help out tremendously,” said Stevens.
As far as playing hockey goes, though, the Canucks season isn’t over. One of their biggest accomplishments this year was beating the Flyers in a Coy-Cup series for the right to go to the AA B.C. showdown in Williams Lake from March 27 to 31. Stevens said the team will take two weeks off to regroup physically and mentally, before getting back to work and preparing for the Coy Cup.
“We need to step away and take some time, then come back and try to practice two to three times a week until we head down there.”
In a way, the season has only just begun.