2022-2023 VIJHL Playoff Recap Week 4

By Blake Moon

The fourth week of VIJHL playoff action has come to an electrifying conclusion with now
only two teams left standing. Before they duke it out to see who will be crowned the victors of
the VIJHL, let’s take a look at how these two clubs managed to claw their way to the top!

Oceanside Generals (N1) vs Campbell River Storm (N2)
As we mentioned last week, it seemed inevitable that these teams were going to meet in
the second round of the playoffs, and both teams knew that getting through the other was going
to be an almost insurmountable task. Games 1 through 3 proved to both teams that this was
going to be a slog of a series. But games 4 and 5 literally could not have gotten any closer as
both games needed to go to not 1, but 2 over time periods to decide a winner. In game 4 the
Generals entered the matchup with a 2 games to 1 series lead and they were looking for the
stranglehold win to take a devastating 3 to 1 series lead going back to Oceanside place to
hopefully close out the series in 5 games. Game 4 saw both of these clubs bring their A-game
all the way into the extra frames with the shot totals only being separated by 2 shots as
Oceanside tallied 34 shots and Campbell River amassed 32. But in the end it was Oceanside’s
number 12 Benjamin Groome who potted the winning goal giving the Gen’s a massive win
heading home for game 5. And of course, game 5 was no different in terms of effort. The Storm
were determined to send this series back home for a hopeful game 6, but despite their best
effort, it wasn’t meant to be. Both goalies came ready to play as the combined shots were up in
the 90’s as the Storm peppered Matthew Hutchison with 43 shots while the Generals fired an
incredible 55 shots at Nick Peters, but it was Jacob Thomas who lodged the dagger into the
hearts of the Storm with his double overtime heroics as he sent the Gen’s to the VIJHL finals for
their shot at being crowned the 2022-2023 VIJHL champs! Although the series seemed lopsided
with the Gens winning the series in 5 games, this series was much closer than the number of
games would suggest. Of the 5 games, 3 of them went to overtime, meaning that it was a single
goal that made the difference in over half of the games. The Storm were neck and neck with the
Generals all series long, however they just couldn’t find a way to win any of the overtime games,
and now they are left with the hollow comfort of knowing they were so close to slaying the
dragon, but just barely came up short.

Victoria Cougars (S1) vs Saanich Predators (S2)
Surprisingly, this series was the first to see a lower seed defeat a higher seed in the
2022-2023 VIJHL playoffs, and despite the somewhat surprising outcome, this series was
equally as close as the semi finals from the North division. Of the 6 games played 3 of them
were decided by only a single goal and throughout the series the shots on goal in each game
were separated by a very slim margin, as only one game had the shot gap be larger than 5
shots. The teams exchanged wins for the first 3 games, with the Preds taking games 1 and 3
and the Cougars snagging game 2 from the Predators in overtime. But it was games 4 and 5
that proved to be the crucial games as the Predators managed to win both of those games,
giving them a 3 games to 1 lead, and a 3 game cushion to secure a finals berth. While the
Cougars did earn a valiant win in game 5, the Predators proved to be too much for the number 1
seed in the South and pulled off the upset in 6 games. This truly was a goaltenders series as
Saanich’s Dryden Demelo finished the series with a 0.937% save percentage, and Victoria’s
Ashton Billesberger put up a 0.920% save percentage over his time in the playoffs which puts
both goalies well above the league average. The most impressive performance in this series
however would have to be awarded to Victoria’s Ethan Roworth who found a way to accumulate
18 points in 11 games throughout the playoffs, and was a standout player in all 6 of these semi
final games. While he is accompanied at the top of the league scoring list by Saanich’s Michael
Hoekstra, who has tallied 15 points in 11 games, Roworth was doing his best Connor McDavid
impression all playoffs long as he was racking up points seemingly at will. Unfortunately, it was
not enough to get his team into the VIJHL finals and now we can gear up for an epic finals
matchup between the Oceanside Generals and the Saanich Predators!

Remaining Teams leading Scorers:

Oceanside Generals
– Goals: Carter Johnson (5)
– Assists: Brendan Carlson (10)
– Points: Carter Johnson, (13)
– Wins: Ashton Sadauskas and Matthew Hutchison (4)

Saanich Predators
– Goals: Jack Westhaver (10)
– Assists: Michael Hoekstra (11)
– Points: Michael Hoekstra (15)
– Wins: Dryden Demelo (7)

Oceanside Generals (N1) vs Saanich Predators (S2)
The Oceanside Generals have been waiting all season for their moment to prove that
they are more than just regular season merchants, and are diligently preparing to continue their
winning ways. However, the Predators have been a pesky team to deal with all playoffs long,
refusing to back down from any challenge and will almost certainly be the toughest opponent
the Generals have played in the playoffs thus far. And that is why this is going to be the best
series yet. We have had some amazing action in this year’s VIJHL playoffs, just like we do every
year, but this is for all the marbles. It’s all or nothing, Do or die, make or break. This is going to
be the matchup of the playoffs and the best series yet, and I am certain that you will not want to
miss a second of the action.

Game 1 goes down on Wednesday, March 29th with puck drop at 7:15 pm at Oceanside
place. In the meantime, make sure to keep it locked on to VIJHL.com for all of the news and
updates heading into the finals, and do whatever you can to go down and watch history be
made live as we finally see who will be crowned the Kings of the VIJHL for the 2022-2023