By Gerry Hale
It's clear now that a new postseason rivalry is in the making.
For sure, the Truro Bearcats and Dieppe Commandoes are not familiar foes at this time of year. Annual encounters usually consist of two home - two away games, then on their separate ways.
The Bearcats are making back-to-back appearances in Kent Cup finals. The roster is laden with players who feel there is some unfinished business, going back to the Cup loss to Summerside last year.
The Commandos, now in their sixth season playing out of Dieppe, have not come this far before. The Moncton Beavers won a Maritime junior title in 1995, but since then, that area of New Brunswick has been in a playoff drought.
Dieppe had a strong first half this year but around the trade deadline fell back while retaining their second place spot in the Meek Division. The Commandos fought their way back.
In its series with Woodstock many felt the Slammers would come out on top. They didn't. The Commandos put them away in five.
In the Meek final, the Commandos were once again considered underdogs. They weren't. They polished off the Miramichi Timberwolves in six.
Whatever shortcomings the Commandos had in January and February have been overcome. They have clearly shown why the games are played.
The Bearcats and Commandos have split their four meetings this year. In many ways the two teams are similar in style and makeup.
Both teams rely heavily on speed and hard work. High tempo hockey is anticipated for the duration of this series.
The bulk of both teams has been built through the midget draft. Both teams should serve as strong examples of building teams and developing players.
Neither team has a full complement of 20 year olds, so both are concerned with growth through continuity. These are strong examples for new or existing programs.
Both teams have tweaked their lineups with off-season and early-season acquisitions. Team chemistry, that important ingredient for success, has been allowed to develop over the course of the season.
Fans in both centers should expect exciting hockey from these survivors. This corner is looking for speed and finesse to be in abundance after the feeling-out process is completed.
Tonight, the Bearcats are in Dieppe for Game 2 slated to get underway at 7:30 pm. Truro leads the series 1-0 after a 2-1 victory on Tuesday in the opener.
The ever-crucial Game 3 is set to go at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the RECC.
Check it out yourself.
Gerry Hale is media relations co-ordinator for the Truro junior A Bearcats hockey team.