With all the make-up games and one-game playoff, we weren’t able to produce a proper playoff preview like recent years. However, the Holden Blue Jays prevailed in the one-game playoff over Beaumont, and now, two young teams who have never met in their renewed existences will meet in the first round.
The resemblance is somewhat uncanny. Two different paths. One goal. Win a PBL championship like the generation before them did.
In 1987 and 1992, the Holden Blue Jays prevailed. In 1984, the Armena Royals captured a title. Both vanished from the PBL scene. Both are back.
One, in Armena, took a much different path. Re-ignited by the 1984 pitcher Verlyn Olson in 1999. A midget team. Just like Holden was. Got to the PBL playoffs but lost in the first round in their second and third years before joining together with some of the Camrose Roadrunners to win a championship in 2002. Then the Roadrunners and Scott Peterson took the team and brand in a different direction before finally leaving the league and hamlet to die. Clark Banack, maybe regrettably that 2008 season, kept it going. It was a long three and a half years with a combined 10-54 record as the franchise held on by a thread. Two straight playoff years left the Royals within one game of a championship and an early first-round exit last season.
In Holden, the Jays were go-getters right off the start in 2010. A playoff berth and quick game one win over Ryley mirrored Armena’s 2001 semi-final loss to Bardo. The Jays would come right back for more in 2011. This time, a championship appearance and a lead in the deciding game all for not. After a disappointing missed playoff in 2012, the Jays looked like a team of destiny. Playing with heavy hearts for their veteran Pat Kawaliak as the league cheered them on to defeat the Milleteers in the rematch of the 2011 title series. However, again, pesky Leduc won both games, and Holden – the team everyone thinks can, and should be winning titles – is empty handed.
So with all the history, the older generations looking on, and two historic PBL franchises meeting essentially for the first time in modern history, one will get another chance to see the dance, while one will once again be looking to respin a new tale for generations of rural Albertans for life.
This is the PBL playoffs. This is where memories are made. And legends are talked about like fish stories. Whether true or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s the allure of this league, the towns, and the people who play the game.
Tonight begins Act I.