by Daniel Moser
(EJNews) – The cool Spring breeze means a number of things to Canadians, it’s time to lay that parka to rest, it’s okay to switch your tires over, going for a walk around the block for a coffee is an option again, and it’s time for playoff hockey. Though all seven Canadian NHL Clubs decided not to partake in this year’s playoffs, that doesn’t mean there is a lack of playoff hockey in the city of Edmonton, and the 30th edition of the Edmonton Jewish Hockey League Playoffs did not disappoint.
After an opening round which saw both top seeds advance, the stage was set for an EJHL Final which many predicted right from the start of the season, the reigning Champion HeAtBaGs versus the West Edmonton Mall Maulers. Though the HeAtBaGs finished ahead of the Maulers, the tale of the tape between the two squadrons tells a very different story. The Maulers were the only team this year to consistently have the HeAtBaGs’ number. The Maulers defeated the HeAtBaGs 7 out of 8 times this season; in fact of the HeAtBaGs 8 losses this season, 7 of them came at the hands of the Maulers, including a devastating 6-4 loss which left HeAtBaG fans questioning whether their team had what it takes to win another My Son Stanley’s Cup.
The opening game of the best of 3 finale was the season series in a nutshell. A hard fought contest by both teams, ultimately a late game breakdown, and three straight goals against and the HeAtBaGs were down again. Adding insult to injury, the final goal of the game was scored by the Maulers goaltender on the HeAtBaGs empty net. Embarrassed by having a goalie score against them, the HeAtBags took their game 1 loss, and barred members of the press from entering their dressing room for post game interviews, a rarity in the EJHL.
A confident Maulers team, featuring a roster full of EJHL Award Nominees, picked up in Game 2 right where they left off, taking a lead midway through the game. Down by one, and killing a penalty, late in the third period it looked like it might be over for the HeAtBaGs but EJHL Leading Scorer Noah Soifer had other ideas, collecting the puck off a save from the HeAtBaG netminder, skating in on a shorthanded breakaway, and finishing the job, tying the game, setting the stage for a pivotal overtime in Game 2.
Minutes into overtime the HeAtBaGs scored on a two on one bang bang play, and Argyll Arena erupted as the BaGs leapt from the bench and celebrated in the corner.
Both teams came to play in the deciding third game of the finals, and the sold out crowd at Argyll was not disappointed. The momentum from the previous game, along with strong performances all throughout the lineup carried the HeAtBaGs to a 7-4 victory, claiming their 3rd consecutive My Son Stanley’s Cup.
Come join the HeAtBaGs, Maulers, Acme Scrappers, and Aldan for the Edmonton Jewish Hockey League’s 30 Anniversary Awards Banquet and Gala. All players, coaches, staff, alumni, friends and family are invited to enjoy the festivities.
The EJHL will host the 30th Anniversary banquet on the night of April 30, at the Szechuan Castle (15415 111 Ave) which features an all you can eat Chinese buffet. Entertainment will be provided by Calgary’s own Brian Stollery, Winner of Canada’s Next Top Comic. The event will be free for all league members, plus one. Alumni and community members are invited to partake in the evening at a cost of $25. Please RSVP to Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our photo gallery of the Game 3 Finals – the action and then the celebrations. Photos by Edmonton Jewish News.