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Toews leads BCHL alumni into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs

The first round of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs has wrapped up after a weekend of epic game sevens in both the Western and Eastern Conference.

Before the marathon for Lord Stanley’s mug began, 25 players with BC Hockey League experience were featured on the opening rosters. 18 of them saw action during the first round and 11 of them have moved on to continue the battle for hockey’s biggest prize.

Western Conference

The Colorado Avalanche made short work of the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs, winning the series in four straight. The Avalanche boasts three players with BCHL experience on its roster, led by defender Devon Toews (Surrey Eagles), who had three goals and five points against the Preds. His five points are the most among former BCHLers in the playoffs.

Toews’ fellow blueliner Josh Manson (Salmon Arm Silverbacks) also played each game against Nashville and finished with one assist. A bit of a surprise was that forward Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies) was scratched for the entire Avalanche-Predators series after posting 33 points in 71 games during the regular season.

The Avs face St. Louis in the second round after the lower-seeded Blues upset the Minnesota Wild in six games in the first round. St. Louis has one BCHL alumni on their roster – veteran forward Tyler Bozak (Victoria Grizzlies). Bozak, who won a Stanley Cup in 2019 with the Blues, scored a goal in the series-clinching game six win for St. Louis. It was his only point of the series.

The Edmonton Oilers also have three former BCHL players on their roster, but only two of them played during the seven-game series against the Los Angeles Kings. Defender Tyson Barrie (Victoria Grizzlies) was solid for the Oilers against the Kings, finishing with a goal and two assists. At the same time, three-time Stanley Cup champion Duncan Keith (Penticton Panthers) notched an assist in seven games for Edmonton.

BCHL legend Kyle Turris (Burnaby Express) didn’t get into any games for the Oilers against the Kings but is a veteran of 69 NHL playoff games.

Forward Milan Lucic (Coquitlam Express) is the lone former BCHL player on the Calgary Flames, who will renew their rivalry with Edmonton in a 2022 edition of the battle of Alberta. The 33-year-old had one assist in the Flames’ seven-game series win against the Dallas Stars.

Of the eliminated players in the Western Conference who have experience in the BCHL, LA Kings defender Troy Stecher (Penticton Vees) notched four points in four games against the Oilers, and Nashville forwards Colton Sissons (Westside Warriors) and Ryan Johansen (Penticton Vees) each finished with a pair of assists in four games versus the Avs.

Dallas captain Jamie Benn (Victoria Grizzlies) had two points in the seven game heartbreaker against Calgary, Predators defender Dante Fabbro (Penticton Vees) didn’t score any points in four games against Colorado and neither did Minnesota forwards Brandon Duhaime (Merritt Centennials) and Tyson Jost (Penticton Vees) in six games against St. Louis.

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers forward Dryden Hunt (Trail Smoke Eaters) is the only player with BCHL experience left in the Eastern Conference playoff picture who played in the first round. He didn’t register any points in a pair of games in the Blueshirts’ seven-game win over Pittsburgh.

Forward Riley Nash (Salmon Arm Silverbacks) is on the roster of the Tampa Bay Lightning but didn’t play during the seven-game first round win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nash’s last playoff action actually came with the Leafs last year.

Danton Heinen (Merritt Centennials/Surrey Eagles) posted three goals for the Penguins in the series against New York, defender Justin Schultz (Westside Warriors) had three points in six games as Washington fell to Florida, and forward Alexander Kerfoot (Coquitlam Express) tallied a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs against the Lightning.

Defender Mike Reilly (Penticton Vees) played five games, but didn’t score any points for the Boston Bruins in the loss to Carolina as the series went the distance.

There are also another four players with BCHL experience who didn’t get into any action in the first round but are on their respective NHL rosters. They are Carolina netminder Jack LaFontaine (Penticton Vees), Dallas goaltender Adam Scheel (Penticton Vees), Minnesota defender Jordie Benn (Victoria Grizzlies), and Washington defender Matt Irwin (Nanaimo Clippers). LaFontaine is the only one moving to the second round.