PACIFIC REGION: The Burnaby Express, champions of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), qualified for the 2006 RBC Royal Bank Cup with a 4-2 series victory over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (Alberta Junior Hockey League) in the Doyle Cup. The Express are led by the duo of Geoff Irwin and Tyler McNeely. Irwin finished third in BCHL regular season scoring with 88 points in 57 games, while McNeely was ninth with 80 points in 60 games. McNeely led all BCHL scorers in the playoffs with 37 points in 20 games, while Irwin was next with 30 points. Dave Simoes and Keith Seabrook were the team’s offensive leaders from the blueline. Simoes had 36 points in 57 regular season games and 18 points in 20 playoff games, while Seabrook recorded 34 points in 57 regular season games and 19 points in 20 post-season contests. Goaltender Bryce Luker had a 3.03 goals against average and a .902 save percentage in the regular season. In the playoffs, he improved to a .914 save percentage and a 2.56 goals against average.
Regular Season Record: 34-20-1-5 (2nd in BCHL’s Mainland Division)
The Burnaby Express found their groove late in January and rode that wave of success all the way to the BCHL Fred Page Cup and Mowatt Cup Championships – their first in franchise history. Their win in 6 games over the Penticton Vees in the Fred Page Cup Final was the culmination of a season which started with promise, found mid-season struggles, and ended with a solid group that had all the pieces needed to win a Championship.
After stringing together a 6 game winning streak to end the BCHL’s regular season, the Express continued to roll as the post-season began. The Express walked over the Langley Hornets in 4 straight games in the opening round, outscoring the Hornets 21-8 over those 4 games.
The Express then moved on to face their play-off nemesis in the form of the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Chiefs had eliminated the Express in the past 5 play-off seasons, including the 2005 play-offs in which the Express held a 3-1 series lead before dropping 3 straight to the Chiefs to once again exit in the 1st round. The 2006 edition of the Express would not make that mistake as they quickly built a 3-0 lead in the series and went on to eventually eliminate the Chiefs in 5 games to move on to the BCHL’s Coastal Conference Championship. It seemed to be a turning point for the franchise as the Express continued to gain confidence as they moved through the grueling BCHL play-off schedule.
In the Coastal Conference Final, the Express met a team that was in the midst of writing their own Cinderella play-off story in the Victoria Salsa. The Salsa had been the story of the post-season knocking off the high flying Nanaimo Clippers and Alberni Valley Bulldogs enroute to the Coastal Final. Despite dropping the opening game of the series at home, the Express bounced back with 4 consecutive victories to claim the Cliff McNabb Trophy as BCHL Coastal Conference Champions.
The Express would meet a determined opponent in the League Final in the Penticton Vees – a team that had also played its best hockey down the stretch into the play-offs in capturing the Ryan Hadfield Trophy as Interior Conference Champions. The Express would prevail in the final series winning the series in 6 games and capturing their first ever League Championship.
BURNABY ADVANCES TO DOYLE CUP FINAL
The Burnaby Express are the 2006 Fred Page Cup Champions after defeating the Penticton Vees 2-1 in overtime. » more
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