Earlier today the BCHL contacted myself and also Alex Grebenyuk (play-by-play voice for the Merritt Centennials) to gets some thoughts on this first round series. Here's how it came out in the British Columbia Hockey League's weekly email newsletter.
#3 Prince George Spruce Kings (33-21-2-4) vs. #2 Merritt Centennials (34-18-2-6)
For the first time in a while, there is genuine excitement about the playoff prospects of the Spruce Kings and Centennials. Prince George missed the playoffs last year and Merritt was swept in the first round by Salmon Arm. This year the teams had 39 and 25-point improvements in the standings respectively.
"The last three home games here were all sell-outs," noted Spruce Kings play-by-play voice Ron Gallo. "There is a buzz around the city that we haven't seen in a long, long time."
There's good reason for that. The top line of De Jersey - Colantone - Khaira has been supported wonderfully by the Fitzgerald triplets Gerry, Leo and Myles who have basically been point-a-game players since the new year.
It's tough to pick a winner in this series; each team's goalies, starters and backups, finished in the top-10 in the league in goals-against average. And despite a 5-2 edge in the season series for Merritt, the combined scored was just 27-24 Cents.
"In my opinion, I don't think there's a favourite in this series," said Cents' play-by-play man Alex Grebenyuk, adding 20-year-old leaders Billy Marshall, Evan Stack, Lino Chimienti and Chad Brears want to finish their BCHL careers strong. "They each have three very, very deep lines, the goaltending is almost the exact same and the goals for and against. It should be a long series."
The best of seven Interior Conference Semi-Final gets started on Friday in Merritt with puck drop scheduled for 7:30pm. Game two will also be in Merritt on Saturday night at 7:30pm before the two teams head north for Games 3 and 4 in the Prince George Coliseum on Monday March 19th and Tuesday March 20th. On Monday Rick Hansen will be making a stop in his 25th Anniversary Man In Motion Tour to drop the ceremonial puck before Game 3 at 7:15pm.
The first 1000 fans in to the games on both Monday and Tuesday will receive an Official 2012 Limited Edition Playoff Towel" and all fans are being encouraged to wear white for a whiteout in the Castle.
All of the Spruce Kings games will be broadcast live on 93.1 CFIS-FM with streaming audio available from their website at www.cfisfm.com as well as from the BCHL scoreboard. It is recommended to test how you will be listening to the game to make sure you can receive the audio. If you are listening online, go to the CFIS-FM website and click on the "Listen Live" link to see if you can get the streaming audio feed to work.