After finishing first in the Central Interior Hockey League East Division, the Williams Lake Stampeders will have a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
They’ll take on the winner of the series between the Lac La Hache Tomahawks and the Quesnel Kangaroos in round two of the post season in a best-of-five series. The round-one series begins Saturday night in Lac La Hache at the Rolph Zeis Memorial Arena with a start time of 7:30 p.m.
Should Quesnel, who finished second in the division, come out on top, Zurak said it should be an exciting series.
“They’ll be good games,” said Stampeders president Marko Zurak.
“We’ll have to play our best and they’ll have to play their best to be able to come out on top. They’ve got a pretty good team.”
The Stampeders finished the 16-game regular season with 12 wins and four losses. Quesnel, meanwhile, had eight wins, seven losses and one overtime loss.
The Kangaroos defeated the Stampeders 5-4 at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex during the last game of the regular season for Williams Lake on Friday.
Williams Lake will play its first playoff game on Saturday, Feb. 6 in either Lac La Hache or Quesnel. They’ll have two home playoff games to follow on Saturday, Feb. 13 and Sunday, Feb. 14.
Zurak said while the layoff before game one will be rough, it will give some of players some time to recuperate from injuries.
“We had some injures. Matt Lees and Nathan [Zurak] were injured, but both are back,” he said.
“One of our key defencemen was hurt but he’s back, too.”
As an added incentive to win the series, if Williams Lake wins its second-round series and if the Terrace River Kings knock off the Smithers Steelheads in their West Division playoff series, the Stampeders will be granted an automatic berth into the Coy Cup senior men’s provincial hockey championships following the CIHL playoffs. Terrace is the host team, so will automatically be granted a berth.
Two teams from the CIHL qualify for the Coy Cup, and the other two teams will be decided by the winners of games between the North Island Capitals and the Powell River Regals, and the Whitehorse Huskies and the Fort St. John Flyers.
Puck drop Saturday, Feb. 13 goes at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday’s Feb. 14 game starts at 1:30 p.m. Both games go at the CMRC.