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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New MLB Commish Has Message For Montreal




Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday that Montreal needs a new stadium to have any chance of bringing the sport back to the city.

"The key thing in Montreal would be to have a plan for an adequate facility that could support baseball over the long haul," he told The Canadian Press just a few days before Montreal hosts two exhibition games between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds at Olympic Stadium.

Manfred said the league would need a strong commitment from Montreal for a new stadium before the league could seriously consider relocating a team or expanding there.

"I don't expect people to go into the ground and build a facility without some sort of commitment that they are going to get a team," he said. "But I do think that you need a plan and a commitment to how that plan is going to be executed."

The Expos joined the National League for the 1969 season and remained in the big leagues through 2004 before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals.

While the Expos failed to draw 1 million spectators to Olympic Stadium in any of their final seven seasons, a total of 96,350 fans attended a pair of exhibition games there in March 2014 between the New York Mets and Blue Jays.

"The exhibition games last year and how well they were attended and at least the early reports on the games this year demonstrate a real interest in Major League Baseball and the Montreal market," Manfred said. "We find that to be very interesting and exciting."

According to Manfred, exhibition games in non-MLB cities are an important litmus test for the potential viability of a market.

"The games like those exhibition games in new markets are important as an initial test of the level of interest that the market has in the game," he said. "When you have the kind of success you've had in Montreal, you kind of pass the first initial test of whether it's a market that could support baseball."

Manfred, who replaced Bud Selig as commissioner in January, said MLB is not looking in the short term to increase the league from 30 to 32 teams.

More than 80,000 tickets have already been sold for the upcoming exhibition games between Toronto and Cincinnati. Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 Games and home to the Expos starting in 1977, holds 45,757 fans when configured for baseball.

The new commissioner didn't give much away as to the league's plans for the future, but he did say that if MLB expands beyond the continental United States, the likely new markets will be in Mexico or Canada.

"Mexico and Canada present the most fertile ground just in terms of the level of baseball interest and the proximity to our existing franchises," he said.

Manfred said the league prefers to make baseball work in existing markets, despite the troubles some MLB cities have been facing, such as Tampa Bay and Oakland.

"But we have always been realistic," he said. "At the end of the day, relocation to another market could be the only solution."

(AP)





Monday, March 30, 2015

NHL Three Stars Of Week



Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson and Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 29.
 
FIRST STAR – DEVAN DUBNYK, G, MINNESOTA WILD
 
            Dubnyk went 4-0-0 with a 1.22 goals-against average and .962 save percentage to lead the Wild (44-25-7, 95 points) to four consecutive victories, including their franchise-record 10th straight on the road. He opened the week with 35 saves in a 2-1 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs March 23. Dubnyk followed that performance by stopping 37 shots – and all three attempts he faced in the shootout – in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders March 24. He capped the week with victories on consecutive days, making 23 saves in a 4-2 triumph over the Calgary Flames March 27 and 31 stops in a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings March 28. The 28-year-old Regina, Sask., native has won a career-high 35 games while ranking second in the NHL with a 2.05 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 53 appearances this season. That includes a 26-6-1 record with a 1.70 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and five shutouts since joining the Wild Jan. 15.
 
SECOND STAR – CAM ATKINSON, RW, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
 
Atkinson shared first in the NHL with four goals, ranked second with seven points and led the League with a +6 rating as the Blue Jackets (36-35-4, 76 points) won all three of their games, including their franchise-record eighth consecutive on the road. He registered a pair of assists in a 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks March 24. Atkinson then recorded his second career hat trick in a 5-2 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks March 27. He closed the week with 1-1—2, reaching the 20-goal milestone for the second time, in a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues March 28. The 25-year-old Riverside, Conn., native has 20-17—37 in 71 appearances this season, three points shy of his career high established in 2013-14. That includes 7-5—12 in his past 10 games, during which the Blue Jackets have gone 9-1-0.
 
THIRD STAR – RYAN O’REILLY, C, COLORADO AVALANCHE
 
            O’Reilly led the NHL with seven assists and eight points to power the Avalanche (35-28-12, 82 points) to two victories in four starts. He set up both goals in a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames March 23. O’Reilly then factored on all three goals, recording 1-2—3, in a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers March 25. He again collected two assists in a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks March 26 before wrapping up the week with one helper in a 5-3 triumph over the Buffalo Sabres March 28. The 24-year-old Clinton, Ont., native and reigning Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner has 14-38—52 in 75 outings this season. That includes 4-8—12 during a seven-game point streak, equaling a career high established Oct. 12-24, 2009 (2-7—9).

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Something To "Mitch" About



The Regina Pats are up 2-0 in their best of seven, but they haven't done anything yet. The old saying is a team isn't in trouble until they lose at home so its up to the Swift Current Broncos to try and hold serve starting Tuesday in Game 3.  However, one has to wonder if the home-cooking will change the complexion of this best of 7.

As mentioned in previous postings, the Broncos came out and maybe deserved a better fate in Game 1 as Daniel Wapple's efforts, especially in the first period was the impetus for a Regina win, but Game 2 was a game which flattered Swift Current as far I was concerned. The Pats were by far and away the better team as they controlled the play and dictated the flow. If that happens in the next two games, we may have seen the last of the Broncos......but I doubt that.

There are several Pats who stood out for me in the first two games---Wapple, Pavel Padakin and the 15 year old Jake Leschyshyn who is showing the step up to junior from midget is not a big one for him as he has fit right in. This kid will be something to watch starting next year when he is here on a full-time basis.  While several Pats have stood out, there has not been one Swift Current player that has turned my head. Colby Cave, Jake Debrusk and Dillon Heatherington have not brought their "A" game in this blogger's opinion and at this time of  year, your best players have to be playing like it. 

---

When did Regina hockey fans suddenly become loud and boisterous. The Brandt Centre has been known to be home to a silent fanbase, but that was not the case on Saturday night as the building was as loud as I have heard it in several years for a hockey game.  Perhaps the playoff run starved hockey fans in this city have seen what Paddock's proteges are doing and they like what they are seeing. It seems to me as if they may have bought in. That crowd will be needed for Game 5 (if there is one) and beyond.  Its good to see!

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Congratulations to the Regina Pat Canadians on their Saskatchewan Midget Triple A title. The West regional follows before a trip to the Telus Cup in Riviere de Loup, Quebec. I don't even know where that is, but the Pat C's want to get there. 

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Former Riders DL Ricky Foley had the tweet of the weekend.  Foley, like many others, doesn't like some of the new CFL rules and said Love #CFL rule changes...Esp the 1 where the
Offence goes on the powerplay & steals 2nd base off a corner kick 2hit the game winning 3pter.

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The Leafs haven't done a lot right this year, but they got it right with what they did for Garrett Gamble. If you don't know about it, just Google "Garrett Gamble" and I think you'll agree. Speaking of the Leafs, the talking heads can yap about it all they want, but I just don't see Mike Babcock being their new head coach. Why would he want that job?

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Todd Nelson has done a good job with the Oilers since taking over for Dallas Eakins behind the bench, I would think the Oilers brass will likely keep him going into next season, but if Todd McLellan comes available, one would have to think Edmonton would be interested. Is the feeling mutual?

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If the Oilers end up with the #3 or #4 draft pick meaning they don't get a shot at either Connor McDavid or Eichel, I say trade down if you can and get a top 2 or 3 defenceman. 
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With all the talk about "tanking" to get Connor MacDavid, it is time for the NHL to change its draft lottery. While many ideas are floating around as to how to do this, I say you get a bingo machine with 14 balls and you fire it up. If that means a team that barely missed the playoffs gets the number one pick so be it. If it means the worst team in the league ends up picking 14th so be it. A draft lottery is supposed to be a lottery. When I go to get a lottery ticket, there is no indication there is a 12 percent chance the number 5 wil be picked and there is a 1 percent chance number 30 will be picked. All of the numbers have a 1 in whatever chance of being selected. Why can't we do that in the NHL and the NBA for that matter. This would solve a lot of problems wouldn't it. It would certainly prevent a team from "tanking".
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If the Stanley Cup playoffs started today, the Bruins would play the Canadiens. Do we really need to see those two teams go at it again?

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Thank you TSN for giving us a solid dose of US College Hockey this weekend. I love the NCAA brand of hockey. One of the Frozen Four games will be between North Dakota (they're still the Fighting Sioux to me) and Boston University featuring Jack Eichel--the likely 2 pick in the NHL draft. That game will be a dandy! 

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Speaking of dandys, the Kentucky-Notre Dame March Madness regional final was everything you wanted in a sporting event. Notre Dame played the game of their lives and it still wasn't good enough. That being said, I think Wisconsin will give John Calipari's group everything they can handle if not more next weekend. 

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Wrestlemania was actually pretty good. None of the results really surprised me including the Seth Rollins run-in at the end to take the title. It had to happen sooner or later. He never pinned Brock Lesnar and sets up a feud with him. The highlight was definitely the appearance of the Rock and UFC female uber-star Ronda Rousey. Their bit with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon was outstanding. I have to wonder though what UFC boss Dana White thought about Ronda's appearance. I wonder if that could be the start of a mixed tag match for Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas.
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NOTE TO SELF: Don't ever challenge Rams defensive back Tevaughn Campbell to a race. The man can run!

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One week from tonight, the baseball season will be underway. Can't wait!

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That's all I got. Have a great week!




Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pats Go Up 2-0

(Photo Courtesy Keith Hershmiller Photo)

Adam Brooks' goal (pictured above) was the game winner as the Regina Pats beat the Swift Current Broncos 3-2.

While Game 1 arguably saw Daniel Wapple save the Pats bacon by making several big saves, Game 2 flattered the Broncos as the Pats were by far and away the better team.

Brooks' goal came with 13 and a half minutes to go to give Regina the lead after Swift Current tied the game at 2 in the second period on a controversial goal.

Its the first time the Pats have been up 2-0 in a series since 2000.

The series now switches to Swift Current for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Wednesday night beginning at 7

--
1st Period-1, Swift Current, Lernout 1 (Gordon, Gawdin), 5:00. 2, Regina, Cooper 1 (Christoffer, Harrison), 8:39. 3, Regina, Gabrielle 1 (Padakin, Williams), 14:24. Penalties-Thomson S.c (slashing), 6:36; Nikkel S.c (delay of game), 12:13; Lernout S.c (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 19:37; Christoffer Reg (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 19:37.

2nd Period-4, Swift Current, Steenbergen 1 (Penner, DeBrusk), 7:32. Penalties-Nikkel S.c (interference), 9:18; Gabrielle Reg (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 15:02; Thomson S.c (slashing), 16:26.

3rd Period-5, Regina, Brooks 1 (Wagner, Christoffer), 6:34. Penalties-Hobbs Reg (closing hand on puck), 19:07.

Shots on Goal-Swift Current 9-13-9-31. Regina 12-16-12-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Swift Current 0 / 2; Regina 0 / 4.
Goalies-Swift Current, Bow 0-2-0-0 (40 shots-37 saves). Regina, Wapple 2-0-0-0 (31 shots-29 saves).
A-5,377
Referees-Patrick Gagnon (71), Jeff Ingram (82).
Linesmen-Curtis Funk (117), Ryan Lundquist (106).


Friday, March 27, 2015

Pats Take Game 1



It may be an exaggeration to say Daniel Wapple saved the Regina Pats in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first round playoff matchup against Swift Current, but his performance was key in a 4-2 Regina victory at the Brandt Centre Friday night.

Wapple was needed to make several big saves in the first period as the Broncos had many scoring chances capitalizing on one of them just two minutes in by Glen Gawdin.

While Swift Current controlled the play for the first period, they didn't control Pavel Padakin in the final 90 seconds of the first frame as he scored at 1834 and 1933 giving Regina a 3-1 lead which they would not relinquish.

The Pats received a scare in the first period when Colby Williams went to the bench favouring what looked to be a wrist or shoulder, but he came back to play in the third after missing the second period. I am guessing he will be fine for Game 2 which goes Saturday night at the Brandt Centre in a 7 o'clock start.

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1st Period-1, Swift Current, Gawdin 1 (Schumacher, Gordon), 2:01. 2, Regina, D'Amico 1 (Mortlock, Berg), 12:38. 3, Regina, Padakin 1 (D'Amico, Cooper), 18:34. 4, Regina, Padakin 2 (Harrison, Brooks), 19:33. Penalties-No Penalties

2nd Period-5, Swift Current, Merkley 1   10:53. Penalties-Lernout S.c (hooking), 3:11; Zborovskiy Reg (holding), 11:25.

3rd Period-6, Regina, Christoffer 1   19:42 (EN). Penalties-DeBrusk S.c (misconduct-helmet), 19:42.

Shots on Goal-Swift Current 18-10-9-37. Regina 10-14-9-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Swift Current 0 / 1; Regina 0 / 1.
Goalies-Swift Current, Bow 0-1-0-0 (32 shots-29 saves). Regina, Wapple 1-0-0-0 (37 shots-35 saves).
A-5,361

Thursday, March 26, 2015

This And That


The usual weekly assortment of thoughts running through my muddled mind and as always, they are in no particular order.

--Did I miss the memo? Has the CFL decided they are going to be an outdoor version of Arena Football? The proposed rule changes announced Thursday night are for the most part dumb. The desire is obviously there to increase scoring, but defences around the league and defensive co-ordinators must be going WTF?  Not allowing any contact between defender and receiver when the receiver has a running start is a HUGE disadvantage for the defence.  The decision not to allow the line to run downfield on a punt until the ball is caught is just as stupid. The only rule worth its salt is the change to the PAT and don't get me started on the idea of a three point convert.  I'm not really sure what is in the CFL's head with these changes. Why are you screwing around with a game that is fine! Yes, scoring was down last year, but it was one year. Its not a trend. Lets see if it happens for the next couple of years and then sit down if its that big a problem. In the meantime, I think you have done more harm than good. Time will tell!

--"Jungle" Jim Lang appears on the Sportscage every Wednesday and he had a very interesting thought as to where Connor McDavid should end up. Lang said the perfect spot for the NHL to have the next superstar is Arizona. ????? Its my thought the NHL might want to have the league's marquee player in 5 years in Toronto because of the exposure that could be given, but Lang says Arizona would give the franchise some respectability and that landing there would mean the Coyotes could forget about all the woes they have had and look to the future. With all due respect to the Coyotes, selling hockey in the desert is virtually impossible when you see what they are up against. Yes, the Coyotes would certainly gain more exposure on NBC telecasts and perhaps some more in Canada, but I don't think Phoenix is the right spot for the kid.

--Speaking of the Coyotes, they play Buffalo twice in the last few games of the season to likely determine who will be the winner of the McDavid bowl. Who needs to see the battle for top place overall when we can see those two teams skate against one another twice in the final couple of weeks. Arizona won the first game on Thursday night in overtime in Buffalo and Sabres fans cheered when Arizona won. That's gotta hurt if you are a member of the Sabres.

--Its rather sad when you consider the top scorer in the NHL this year won't have 90 points.

--The L-A Kings will likely knock either Calgary or Vancouver out of the playoffs. I'm torn as to which team I want to see on the outside looking in. I can't stand either.

--Congrats to Warriors forward Brayden Point for signing a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. I don't have to tell WHL fans how good of a player Point is. There is no way he ends his junior career in Moose Jaw and one would have to think he will be with a contending team next year---perhaps the Memorial Cup hosts from Red Deer.

--Swift Current Broncos Coach and GM Mark Lamb was on the Sportscage Wednesday. I asked Mark if the fact the Pats were home and cooled off and had nothing to play for in the final few games while his team had to fight, claw and scratch to get into the playoffs meant his team had the advantage going in. He said that was over-rated.  That being said, it will be much harder for the Pats to have that intensity needed that they haven't had to have over the past couple of weeks. Game 1 of this series will be very important and sadly Pats fans, I won't be surprised to see Swift Current take it. That's what playoff hockey is all about though as you need all the right breaks at the right time. On paper, the Broncos arguably have the better team, but Regina has John Paddock behind the bench and that is a huge intangible. Its going to be a lot of fun starting tonight at what I am hoping is a sold out Brandt Center.

--Congrats to John Paddock for being named the WHL East coach of the year. A couple of people have wondered how Kelly McCrimmon of Brandon doesn't win this award considering what he did this year. There is a valid argument there, but did anyone expect Paddock's team to win 37 and still be a competitive team after what was done at the deadline. It baffles me as to how some people can't see the light and how this team will be very good for the next couple of years, but whatever.  As good a job as Paddock has done, how much does he owe to assistant Dave Struch who knows the WHL like the back of his hand and has been instrumental in filling Paddock in on some things. His hire might have been the best transaction of all this year.

--Premier Brad Wall chimed on the series when asked who he will be cheering for---his hometown team or the provincial capital where he works. Predictably, Wall said Swift Current. It made me tell the province's "Grand Poobah" on Twitter it was OK if he wanted to change his mind since he had done that once already this week.  He favourited the tweet moments later easing any fears I would be deported to Manitoba. He also sent a direct message laughing so all is good.  I shudder though if the Raiders should ever beat the Seahawks.

--It is great to see all the support being given to "Bruce Almighty". Some have suggested the Regina Humane Society put down the cat that came in which came in with electrical tape wrapped around its legs cutting off circulation. That cat has a fighting spirit and he has finally found someone who will care for him, The RHS will find the right family for that cat to live with and the fact people around the world have donated for not only his care but care of other animals at the shelter is outstanding and heart-warming.  As for the jackhole who performed the act of animal cruelty, lets just say I would like a one on one interview with this person and have it in a dark room if you know what I mean. I know many of you feel the same way.

--Its WrestleMania weekend! Brock Lesnar's contract signing with WWE throws what I thought would be a Roman Reigns win into jeopardy. I am guessing Vince MacMahon will keep the belt around the waist of the mammoth Lesnar but who knows. At some point, Seth Rollins has to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Does John Cena get another belt to carry around? Can the Undertaker perform one more match? Will I get up to go to the can when the divas tag team match comes on? What one of my neanderthal buddies will make the first highly offensive comment?

--Its only one game, but Edmonton beating Brandon in Game 1 of their series left me with a smile on my face. The Oil Kings have 15 players on their team that won the Ed Chynoweth Cup last year so they will be no pushover. With the series having a 2-3-2 format, an Edmonton win in Game 2 will have the Wheat Kings in a huge hole. BTW: If Edmonton were to win that series, they would stay in the East and play the winner of the Pats-Swift Current series.

--Congrats to Dave Thomas at CJWW Radio. The man who does the visitors sideline at Rider games (and does a helluva better job than the schmuck he replaced down there) is the new voice of the U of S Huskies as CJWW and Husky football have come to agreement on a new deal. Dave, when you go to T-Bird Stadium in Vancouver, make sure your cellphone is charged up!!!

-- This can't be as good as the original can it?

--If love is grand. is divorce a hundred grand?

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend and GO PATS!!




WHL Eastern Conference First Round Playoff Preview





BRANDON WHEAT KINGS vs EDMONTON OIL KINGS
2014-15 regular season record 
Brandon:                       53-11-4-4, 114pts (L10: 8-1-0-1) 
Edmonton:                    34-31-4-3, 75pts (L10: 6-3-0-1)
2014-15 head-to-head record 
Brandon:                       3-1-0-0, 6pts
Edmonton:                    1-2-1-0, 5pts 
2014-15 head-to-head top scorers 
Brandon:
Tim McGauley              4gp-3g-4a-7pts
Nolan Patrick                4gp-3g-2a-5pts

Edmonton: 
Lane Bauer                   4gp-2g-5a-7pts
Brett Pollock                 4gp-4g-1a-5pts
The Brandon Wheat Kings meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in Round 1 of the 2015 WHL Playoffs 
The Brandon Wheat Kings come into the playoffs as the regular season’s East Division, Eastern Conference and Scotty Munro Trophy champions. Tim McGauley and Morgan Klimchuk head up an attack that ranked first in the WHL in regular season scoring and boasted five players with 30 or more goals this season. McGauley finished third in WHL scoring with 105 points (42g-63a) while playing in all 72 games. Rookie defenceman Ivan Provorov led all WHL rookies in scoring with 61 points (15g- 46a) which also ranked fourth amongst all WHL defencemen. The Wheat Kings ranked first in the Eastern Conference and second overall in power play efficiency, executing on 25.7% of their power play opportunities. The Wheat Kings also owned a record of 40-5-2-2 when they outshot their opponent this season. Goaltender Jordan Papirny has been solid all season long for the Wheat Kings as he led the WHL with 44 wins to go along with a 2.74 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and two shutouts. 

The 2014 WHL and MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings battled their way into the playoffs and earned the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Defensively, the Oil Kings are among the League’s elite as they allowed the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference this year. The Oil Kings also owned the best penalty killing efficiency in the WHL with a success rate of 84.8%. Dyson Mayo and Ashton Sautner were both among the league leaders in scoring by defencemen as they tied for 10th overall. Mayo recorded 51 points (14g-37a) while Sautner had 51 points (12g-39a) as both players appeared in all 72 games. Veteran netminder Tristan Jarry has plenty of playoff experience as he earned 16 wins in the 2013-14 WHL Playoffs to lead the Oil Kings to their titles.

Series Schedule  
Game
Visitor
Home
Date
Time
1
Edmonton
@
Brandon
Thursday, March 26
7:00pm CDT
2
Edmonton
@
Brandon
Friday, March 27
7:30pm CDT
3
Brandon
@
Edmonton
Sunday, March 29
6:00pm MDT
4
Brandon
@
Edmonton
Tuesday, March 31
8:00pm MDT
5*
Brandon
@
Edmonton
Wednesday, April 1
8:00pm MDT
6*
Edmonton
@
Brandon
Tuesday, April 7
7:00pm CDT
7*
Edmonton
@
Brandon
Wednesday, April 8
7:00pm CDT
* If necessary

REGINA PATS vs SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS
2014-15 regular season record 
Regina:                           37-24-5-6, 85pts (L10: 4-4-0-2)
Swift Current:                  34-33-1-4, 73pts (L10: 4-6-0-0)
2014-15 head-to-head record  
Regina:                           3-5-0-0, 6pts
Swift Current:                  5-2-0-1, 11pts
2014-15 head-to-head top scorers
Regina:
Jesse Gabrielle                7gp-3g-4a-7pts
Adam Brooks                   7gp-3g-1a-4pts

Swift Current: 
Jake DeBrusk                  8gp-5g-7a-12pts
Colby Cave                      8gp-7g-3a-10pts
The Regina Pats come into the WHL Playoffs as the second seed in the East Division and finished with 85 points for the second straight year. Led by Adam Brooks’ 30 goals, the Pats boasted four players who topped the 25-goal mark and another four who hit the 20-goal plateau. Pats’ defenceman Colby Williams is coming off a productive season that saw him collect 41 points (11g-30a) to go along with a team-best plus-45 rating. Rookie Sam Steel enjoyed a fine season with the Pats scoring 54 points (17g-37a) in 61 games to finish fourth in WHL scoring amongst rookies. Goaltender Daniel Wapple collected 29 wins, posted a 3.03 goals against average along with a .906 save percentage and will likely get the start in the post-season. 

The Swift Current Broncos battled their way into the 2015 WHL Playoffs after winning their regular season finale. Broncos’ leading scorer, and NHL draft-eligible forward, Jake DeBrusk scored a team-leading 42 goals along with 39 assists for 81 points while playing in all 72 games this season. Colby Cave is the only Broncos skater who closed out the 2014-15 regular season with a plus rating in the plus-minus category. The Swift Current Broncos have an outstanding ability in closing out games as they posted a record of 25-0-0-1 when leading after two periods of play this season. Expect Team Canada gold medalist Dillon Heatherington to play the lead role on the Broncos blueline. Goaltender Landon Bow had a strong season, but will get his first taste of playoff hockey.

Series Schedule
Game
Visitor

Home
Date
Time (MDT)
1
Swift Current
@
Regina
Friday, March 27
7:00
2
Swift Current
@
Regina
Saturday, March 28
7:00
3
Regina
@
Swift Current
Tuesday, March 31
7:00
4
Regina
@
Swift Current
Wednesday, April 1
7:00
5*
Swift Current
@
Regina
Friday, April 3
7:00
6*
Regina
@
Swift Current
Saturday, April 4
7:00
7*
Swift Current
@
Regina
Tuesday, April 7
7:00
* If necessary  

CALGARY HITMEN vs KOOTENAY ICE
2014-15 regular season record 
Calgary:                       45-22-1-4, 95pts (L10: 7-3-0-0)
Kootenay:                     37-31-1-3, 78pts (L10: 5-4-0-1)
2014-15 head-to-head record 
Calgary:                       4-2-1-0, 9pts
Kootenay:                     3-4-0-0, 6pts
2014-15 head-to-head top scorers 
Calgary: 
Chase Lang                  7gp-2g-8a-10pts
Radel Fazleev               7gp-3g-5a-8pts

Kootenay: 
Luke Philp                    7gp-6g-5a-11pts
Levi Cable                    6gp-6g-2a-8pts
The Calgary Hitmen claimed their seventh WHL Central Division title and it took all 72 games this season to do so. The Hitmen won their season finale against the Kootenay ICE to leapfrog the Medicine Hat Tigers by one point in the Central Division standings and claim first place.  Adam Tambellini led the Hitmen in scoring this year with 86 points (47g-39a), good enough for 10th overall in WHL scoring. Featuring six players with 20 or more goals and eight players with at least 40 points, Calgary is a potent offensive group. The Hitmen scored the second-most goals in the Eastern Conference with 289 while allowing the fewest goals against amongst all Eastern Conference Clubs. The Hitmen enjoyed strong team defence this year, including a penalty kill unit that ranked as the WHL’s third-best with an 82.6% success rate. Travis Sanheim ranked first among all WHL defenceman in scoring as he tallied 15 goals and 50 assists for 65 points. Goaltenders Brendan Burke and Mack Shields look to keep the Hitmen rolling as the team has won five straight games entering the post-season.

The ICE are making their 17th consecutive playoff appearance after having posted a record of .500 or better for a WHL-record 16th straight campaign. Five different skaters collected 50 points or more for the ICE, including team scoring leader Luke Philp. The four-year veteran notched 82 points (30g-52a) in 71 games while Jaedon Descheneau registered 81 points (34g-47a) to finish second in team scoring. Kootenay was reinvigorated this season with the return of Buffalo Sabres prospect and Team Canada gold medalist Sam Reinhart, who continues to give opposition fits. The ICE enjoyed the success of their penalty kill this year as they finished with the sixth-best unit in the WHL at 81.8%. ICE goaltender Wyatt Hoflin carried the workload this season playing in 67 games to earn 36 wins and three shutouts. Oh, and don’t forget, it was Kootenay who ousted the Hitmen in Round 1 of the 2014 WHL Playoffs in six games.

Series Schedule
Game
Visitor

Home
Date
Time (MDT)
1
Kootenay
@
Calgary
Friday, March 27
7:00
2
Kootenay
@
Calgary
Sunday, March 29
4:00
3
Calgary
@
Kootenay
Tuesday, March 31
7:00
4
Calgary
@
Kootenay
Wednesday, April 1
7:00
5*
Kootenay
@
Calgary
Friday, April 3
7:00
6*
Calgary
@
Kootenay
Saturday, April 4
7:00
7*
Kootenay
@
Calgary
Monday, April 6
7:00
* If necessary 


MEDICINE HAT TIGERS vs RED DEER REBELS
2014-15 regular season record 
Medicine Hat:                45-23-2-2, 94pts (L10: 7-2-1-0) 
Red Deer:                      38-23-5-6, 87pts (L10: 6-3-1-0) 
2014-15 head-to-head record
Medicine Hat:                 4-2-0-0, 8pts
Red Deer:                     2-3-1-0, 5pts
2014-15 head-to-head top scorers 
Medicine Hat: 
Trevor Cox                   6gp-2g-8a-10pts
Cole Sanford                  6gp-4g-3a-7pts

Red Deer: 
Wyatt Johnson              6gp-3g-2a-5pts
Presten Kopeck            6gp-2g-3a-5pts
The Medicine Hat Tigers finished second in the Central Division after having been narrowly edged out by Calgary for first place in the division, but come into the playoffs have won seven of their past 10 games. The Tigers are making their 13th straight playoff appearance, and have advanced to at least the second round in 11 of the last 12 seasons. Led by playmaker Trevor Cox, the Tigers boast five players who scored at least 20 goals and 50 points. Trevor Cox finished second in WHL regular season scoring with 109 points (29g-80a) in 69 games played and his 80 assists led all players. With defencemen Tyler Lewington, Kyle Burroughs and Tommy Vannelli, the Tigers have a balanced attack that scored the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference. The Tigers team defence combined with steady goaltending also allowed them to own the third-best defence in the Eastern Conference as they allowed just 213 goals. Import netminder Marek Langhamer posted a record of 30-16-1-2 with a .902 save percentage in 50 games while backup goaltender Nick Schneider enjoyed a terrific sophomore season with a 15-7-1-0 record in 27 appearances.

The Red Deer Rebels enter the post-season as the third seed in the Central Division. 
Red Deer was consistent this year as they posted 19 of their wins at home and the remaining 19 on the road. Brooks Maxwell took his game to a new level in his fourth season, finishing third in team scoring with 59 points (27g-32a). Six Rebels skaters finished with at least 20 goals including trade acquisitions Riley Sheen and Connor Gay. The Rebels 83.7% penalty kill was the second best in the WHL this season. Rylan Toth will be looked on to shut down the Tigers’ offense as the rookie netminder will be making his first playoff appearance after a strong freshman campaign. The Rebels also look forward to the return of Colorado Avalanche prospect Conner Bleackley from injury.

Series Schedule
Game
Visitor

Home
Date
Time (MDT)
1
Red Deer
@
Medicine Hat
Saturday, March 28
7:30
2
Red Deer
@
Medicine Hat
Sunday, March 29
6:00
3
Medicine Hat
@
Red Deer
Wednesday, April 1
TBD
4
Medicine Hat
@
Red Deer
Thursday, April 2
7:00
5*
Red Deer
@
Medicine Hat
Saturday, April 4
7:30
6*
Medicine Hat
@
Red Deer
Sunday, April 5
5:00
7*
Red Deer
@
Medicine Hat
Tuesday, April 7
7:00
* If necessary