Junior B playoffs
The puck drops Friday night for the St. Albert Merchants and Morinville Jets in the Capital Junior B Hockey League playoffs.
In the best-of-three west division qualifying round, the third-place Merchants (23-14-1) faceoff against the sixth-place Spruce Grove Regals (5-30-3) and the fourth-place Jets (14-23-1) battle the fifth-place Stony Plain Flyers (20-17-1).
Friday’s playoff openers are 8 p.m. for the Merchants at Jarome Iginla Arena and 8:30 p.m. for the Jets at Glenn Hall Centennial Arena.
Game two is 7:45 p.m. Sunday for the Merchants at Grant Fuhr Arena and the Jets at Landrex Arena.
Game three, if needed, is 1 p.m. Monday for the Merchants at St. Albert and 8 p.m. Wednesday for the Jets at Stony Plain.
The winning teams play the first-place North Edmonton Red Wings (30-7-1) and second-place Beverly Warriors (29-7-2), last year’s Founders Cup champions, in the best-of-five division quarter-finals starting next weekend.
The Merchants (181 GF/159 GA) swept the four-game season series with the Regals (109 GF/259 GA) by scores of 8-3, 9-6, 7-4 and 4-3 in overtime while the Jets (119 GF/167 GA) are winless against the Flyers (147 GF/152 GA) after results of 6-3, 4-3, 4-2 and 3-1.
In the last 10 games before the playoffs, the Merchants are 7-2-1 and the Jets are 4-5-1.
The Merchants, the CJHL’s fourth-highest penalized team with 26.6 minutes per game, were led offensively by Ryan Cooper’s 27 goals and 58 points in 33 games and Bryce Sturm’s 26 goals and 56 points in 38 games.
Josh Mcrae was the top scorer on the Jets with 29 goals and 54 points in 36 games.
Atom AA hockey
Eight teams are competing for the championship trophy at the Shootout in St. Albert atom AA hockey tournament this weekend at Jarome Iginla Arena.
The Crusaders and Barons are representing the St. Albert Minor Hockey Association.
The first of 17 games starts at 10:45 a.m. Friday and Sunday’s playoffs include the 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. semifinals to determine the 2:30 p.m. final.
In pool play, the Crusaders are in action at 12 noon Friday against the KC Icemen and Saturday against the Confederation Vipers at 8:45 a.m. and Trails West at 1:45 p.m.
The Barons skate at 2:30 p.m. Friday against the KC Cougars and Saturday at 10 a.m. against the Roughnecks and 3 p.m. against the NE Crush.
The tournament also features a skills competition at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.