Bulldogs squeak into BCHL playoffs

The Bulldogs will face first-place Nanaimo Clippers in the first round of the BCHL playoffs beginning this Friday, March 4 in Nanaimo.

The AV Bulldogs celebrate after a goal at Saturday night’s game against Powell River.

The AV Bulldogs celebrate after a goal at Saturday night’s game against Powell River.

It took them 58 games to do it, but the Alberni Valley Bulldogs claimed the last playoff spot in the B.C. Hockey League Island Division with a pair of wins over Powell RIver Kings on the weekend. Coupled with a Victoria Grizzlies’ loss on Friday, the wins gave the Bulldogs 54 points on the regular season—two more than the Grizzlies.

The Bulldogs will face first-place Nanaimo Clippers in the first round of the BCHL playoffs beginning this Friday, March 4 in Nanaimo.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise to us,” Bulldogs’ coach Kevin Willison said. “We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey. It’s a matter of finishing games and that we can play with anybody.”

The Bulldogs pulled out the points they needed on their final road trip of the season, Willison said, and even though one of the wins against Powell River was in overtime, it was still a win.

“It’s unfortunate it took us 58 games. I give these guys a lot of credit for hanging in there and believing in the coaching staff.”

The Bulldogs have a mix of players with playoff experience and those who are new to the post-season. Willison will look to players like team captain Eric Margo or Chris Schutz to motivate the playoff rookies.

“Those guys are going to communicate with these kids some of the experiences they had last year from the seven-game series in Nanaimo. It’s no different than sneaking in the back door to the playoffs.”

Playoff tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 3.

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