1. FINAL FOUR UPDATE - We are through four games in each of the two conference finals and, while Vancouver is on the brink of moving on, the Prince Albert Raiders avoided trouble and evened up their best-of-seven series with Edmonton at two games a piece.
In the East, a 5-1 win Tuesday night gave the Oil Kings a 2-1 series lead. They had 40 shots that night and looked to be in good shape with home-ice advantage. One night later it’s the Raiders who have regained home ice and have to feel good after a hard-fought 2-1 win.
Meanwhile, down 2-0 in the third, the Vancouver Giants stormed back scoring three times and another in overtime to beat the Spokane Chiefs 4-3 on Wednesday night. Vancouver outshot Spokane 14-4 in the third and had a lead until Riley Woods actually tied the game with 3:35 to play.
2. STATS - The Edmonton Oil Kings have outshot the Prince Albert Raiders in each of the four games they have played in this series. Edmonton has only been outshot twice in 14 playoff games. Wednesday night’s win helped Prince Albert avoid losing three straight for the first time this season. PA is 1/10 on the powerplay in the series while Edmonton is 4/14. Trey Fix-Wolansky has four points (1g, 3a), so does Vince Loschiavo (2g, 2a). Noah Gregor (2g, 1a) leads the Raiders in scoring.
3. POWERPLAY STRUGGLES - Remember the red-hot Spokane powerplay we told you about? It’s 0/7 against the Giants in the series. Meanwhile, the Giants have gone 4/8 on the powerplay and lead the series 3-1.
Dawson Holt has three goals and five points to lead the Giants while Luke Toporowski (1g, 3a) leads the Chiefs. Adam Beckman of Spokane and the Giants’ Jared Dmytriw also have three goals each.
4. WHL’ers EYEING CUP - Carolina Hurricanes: Haydn Fleury from Carlyle, SK | Michael Ferland - Swan River, MB |
New York Islanders: Jordan Eberle - Regina, SK | Mathew Barzal - Coquitlam, BC | Ryan Pulock - Dauphin, MB |
Boston Bruins: Jake DeBrusk - Edmonton, AB |
Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murray - Regina, SK | Seth Jones - Arlington, TX | Matt Calvert - Brandon, MB |
Colorado Avalanch: Tyson Barrie - Victoria, BC |
Dallas Stars: Jamie Benn - Victoria, BC | Blake Comeau - Meadow Lake, SK | Justin Dowling - Calgary, AB | Dillon Heatherington - Calgary, AB | Julius Honka - Jyväskylä, FIN | Landon Bow - St. Albert, AB |
St. Louis Blues: Brayden Schenn - Saskatoon, SK | Jay Bouwmeester - Edmonton, AB | Joel Edmundson - Brandon, MB |
San Jose Sharks: Evander Kane - Vancouver, BC | Martin Jones - North Vancouver, BC
Who did I miss?
5. RE-TWEET - The first is from Regina Pats play-by-pay man Phil Andrews (@Phil_Andrews) on Wednesday night:
Big night for former Pats captain Adam Brooks! Hattrick in a 3-1 win to complete a first round sweep of Rochester. https://t.co/LvDQuhrfln— Phil Andrews (@Phil_Andrews_) April 25, 2019
The second comes from Vancouver Giants radio colour man Bill Wilms (@BillFairway):
6. CONGRATS - A big congratulations goes out to Prince George Cougars’ radio play-by-play voice Fraser Rodgers who, along with his wife, welcomed their first child this week.
Poppy Nicola Rodgers, welcome to the WHL!
7. BANTAM DRAFT - The next time you read a column of mine it will be on the morning of the WHL Bantam Draft next Thursday, May 2. I’m excited to receive my draft guide early next week from the guys at DraftGeek.ca, and will have you ready to go in this space on the morning of the draft!
They tell me the guide will be available for purchase on April 30th.
8. McCRIMMON - A great point was brought up this week with all the rumours surrounding Kelly McCrimmon to the Edmonton Oilers. What will happen to the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Edmonton Oil Kings?
As you know, ‘Crimm owns the Wheat Kings and the Oilers own the Oil Kings… So essentially Kelly McCrimmon could be in control of both organizations. It was asked, what happens when the two teams want to make a big deal?
All kidding and speculation aside, I’m excited for Kelly to get the opportunity. Now that Vegas has been eliminated from the playoffs, expect the news to come fast and furious!
9. OH CANADA - Assistant coach Dave Struch and Team Canada are 4-0 at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Sweden. After finishing first in Pool A, Canada will meet Latvia in quarter-final action on Thursday.
Goaltender Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) is 2-0 for the tournament. Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) has seven points (4g, 3a). Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) also has seven points (3g, 4a), while Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors) has six points (4g, 2a).
10. RANDOM THOUGHTS - Are they really lining up in Prince Albert for tickets at 4 a.m.? I love the passion of small town hockey! I lined up once at a Best Buy on Black Friday to buy a cheap X-Box and a TV… Adam Foote’s first full-year as a head coach will be as a Memorial Cup host in Kelowna. That’s gotta be a ton of pressure… Real happy for the guys and girls who cover teams still playing. I love going to the rink in shorts with a coffee in hand for a morning skate. The conversations are the best… With no television deal in the WHL, it feels weird not to still be at the rink…
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!