Thursday, March 18, 2010

WHL 1st Round Playoff Preview



2009-10 regular-season record: (W-L-OTL-SOL, PTS)

Calgary: 52-17-1-2, 107pts (L10: 9-0-0-1)

Moose Jaw: 33-27-5-7, 78pts (L10: 4-3-0-3)

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Calgary: 2-2-0-0, 4pts

Moose Jaw: 2-1-1-0, 5pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Joel Broda 4gp-4g-2a-6pts

Michael Stone 4gp-3g-2a-5pts

Moose Jaw:

Jason Bast 3gp-3g-1a-4pts

Brendan Rowinski 4gp-2g-1a-3pts

The Calgary Hitmen and Moose Jaw Warriors meet up in the post-season for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Ryan White and the Hitmen defeated Jordan Knackstedt and the Warriors four games to two in the first round of the 2008 WHL playoffs.

The Hitmen are making their 13th consecutive playoff appearance, and enter the post-season as the Husky WHL Eastern Conference’s top seed for a third straight season. Calgary’s offense, led by Bob Clarke trophy winner Brandon Kozun, ranks fourth among all WHL teams this season, having scored 269 goals. In addition, the Hitmen own the WHL’s best power play. Offensive depth is strong as the Hitmen boast four players with 30 or more goals and eight with 20 or more goals this season. Defensively, the Hitmen rank third among all WHL teams in goals-against, and own the WHL’s best penalty killing unit. Led by veteran Michael Stone, Calgary’s blue line boasts plenty of size and toughness. The team also boasts one of the WHL’s best netminders in Martin Jones, who was stellar down the stretch. The Hitmen will need to be sharp defensively to slow down Moose Jaw’s collection of talented forwards, including former Hitmen Brendan Rowinski.

The Warriors are back in the post-season after missing the playoffs last season. Offensively, the Warriors finished in the middle of the pack, in terms of goals scored. Led by veteran Jason Bast, the Warriors boast five players with 20 or more goals. The team also owns the WHL’s sixth-ranked power play, which they will need firing on all cylinders to break down Calgary’s top-notch penalty killing. Missing star sophomore Quinton Howden, currently sidelined with an injury, will hurt Moose Jaw’s attack. Defensively, the Warriors allowed the most goals of any Eastern Conference playoff team. Veteran Ryan Stanton anchors a relatively young group of blue liners, who will be tested by a Calgary offense that has been heating up over the last few weeks. Avoiding Calgary’s red-hot power play will be a key factor is the Warriors are to have success in the series. Goaltender Jeff Bosch has the ability to come up big when called upon, but has only one game of post-season experience.

Series Schedule (All Start Times Local)

#1 – Moose Jaw @ Calgary; Thursday, March 18 (7:00pm)
#2 – Moose Jaw @ Calgary; Saturday, March 20 (7:00pm)
#3 – Calgary @ Moose Jaw; Monday, March 22 (7:00pm)
#4 – Calgary @ Moose Jaw; Tuesday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#5 – Moose Jaw @ Calgary; Thursday, March 25 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Calgary @ Moose Jaw; Saturday, March 27 (7:00pm**
#7 – Moose Jaw @ Calgary; Monday, March 29 (7:00pm)**

**If Necessary


2009-10 regular-season record:

Brandon: 50-18-1-3, 104pts (L10: 8-2-0-0)

Swift Current: 37-30-1-4, 79pts (L10: 6-3-1-0)

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Brandon: 4-2-0-0, 8pts

Swift Current: 2-4-0-0, 4pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Scott Glennie: 6gp-3g-3a-6pts

Aaron Lewadniuk: 5gp-2g-4a-6pts

Swift Current:

Brad Hoban: 6gp-4g-4a-8pts

Justin Dowling: 6gp-5g-1a-6pts

The Brandon Wheat Kings meet the Swift Current Broncos in the post-season for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Jordin Tootoo and the Wheat Kings defeated Ian White and the Broncos four games to one in the second round of the 2002 WHL playoffs.

As the host team for the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, the Wheat Kings already know they’ll have a shot at hoisting the storied trophy. Yet, their goal is to get to the tournament through the front door as WHL champions. Fortunately, the Wheat Kings have looked the part of potential champions for most of the season, rolling to their first 100-point season since ‘95-96. Offensively, no WHL team can match the firepower of the Wheat Kings. The team scored 45 more goals than their nearest competitor, boast five players who topped the 80-point mark and eight players who scored at least 23 goals. The Wheat Kings were also the Eastern Conference’s second-best defensive team, surrendering 117 fewer goals than they scored. Having a healthy Travis Hamonic in the lineup will bolster their defense corps even more.
In goal, Andrew Hayes and Jacob DeSerres split the workload during the regular season. Hayes has the experience of a trip to the Conference championship series last year, while DeSerres has played consistently down the stretch.

The Broncos are in the post-season for a fifth straight season. With the Women’s World Curling championship taking over the Credit Union I-Plex in Swift Current, the Broncos are forced to play their “Home” games for the series in Regina. The Broncos may not match the offense of the Wheat Kings, but they still have some dangerous offensive players. Cody Eakin potted a team-leading 47 goals this season, while Justin Dowling, Michael Stickland and Stepan Novotny all scored at least 25 times. Offense will be needed from the likes of Matt Tassone, Taylor Vause and Brad Hoban if the Broncos are to keep up with the Wheat Kings. Defensively, the Broncos are in the middle of the pack in the Conference, in terms of goals-against, but do own the WHL’s fourth-best penalty killing unit. Derek Claffey and the Broncos’ defense corps will need to be sharp to stymie the Wheat Kings’ attack, particularly in 5-on-5 play, where the Wheaties have dominated opponents. In goal, veterans Mark Friesen and Morgan Clark posted similar numbers during the regular season. Friesen is the only one with any playoff experience, however.

Series Schedule

#1 – Swift Current @ Brandon; Friday, March 19 (7:30pm)
#2 – Swift Current @ Brandon; Saturday, March 20 (7:30pm)
#3 – Brandon @ Swift Current; Tuesday, March 23 (7:00 pm) In Regina
#4 – Brandon @ Swift Current; Wednesday, March 24 (7:00pm) In Regina
#5 – Swift Current @ Brandon; Friday, March 26 (7:30pm)**
#6 – Brandon @ Swift Current; Monday, March 29 (7:00pm) In Regina**
#7 – Swift Current @ Brandon; Wednesday, March 31 (7:00pm) In Regina**


2009-10 regular-season record:

Saskatoon: 46-19-3-4, 99pts (L10: 5-5-0-0)

Red Deer: 39-28-0-5, 83pts (L10: 3-6-0-1)

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Saskatoon: 3-1-0-0, 6pts

Red Deer: 1-2-0-1, 3pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Derek Hulak 4gp-2g-6a-8pts

Walker Wintoneak 4gp-2g-6a-8pts

Red Deer:

Andrej Kudrna 4gp-3g-2a-5pts

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 4gp-1g-4a-5pts

The Saskatoon Blades meet the Red Deer Rebels in the post-season for the first time since the 1992-93 season. Mark Wotton and the Blades defeated Darren Van Impe and the Rebels three games to one in the first round of the 1993 WHL playoffs.

The Blades are in the post-season for the second straight year. After leading the East Division and Eastern Conference for the majority of the season, the Blades slipped to third place after posting a 7-7-0-1 record over their final 15 games. Despite their recent dip in form, the Blades are still a formidable opponent. Offensively, the Blades have good depth with five players with 20 or more goals and eight with 15 or more tallies this season.
Led by captain Derek Hulak, the Blades’ forwards are a physical group who will be very difficult for the Rebels to play against. On the defensive side, the Blades were one of the best defensive teams through the first half, but struggled a bit down the stretch. Stefan Elliott has been one of the best offensive threats from the blue line all season while Sam Klassen has been steady in a shutdown role. Youngsters Tyler Kizuik, Duncan Siemens and Dalton Thrower will need to step up in their first playoff experience. Steven Stanford, the Blades’ likely starter for the playoffs, has been consistent through most of the season. Neither Stanford nor Adam Morrison has any post-season experience.

The Rebels are back in the WHL playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The Rebels may not have the deepest offense in the League, but they have some high-end talent in veterans Willie Coetzee and Landon Ferraro, and super-rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Still, only three Rebels cracked the 20-goal mark and only six scored more than 10 goals this season. Having veteran Nathan Green back in the lineup will bolster the Rebels’ offense and adds much-needed playoff experience. The Rebels were the fourth-best defensive team in the Eastern Conference this season while their penalty killing unit ranked sixth in the Conference. Alex Petrovic, Colin Archer and the rest of the Rebels’ blue liners will need to be ready for a grinding, physical battle versus the Blades. In goal, Darcy Kuemper has been stellar many times this season, but struggled a bit over his last seven starts to close out the campaign. Kuemper has the talent to steal a game for his team.

Series Schedule

#1 – Red Deer @ Saskatoon; Saturday, March 20 (7:05pm)
#2 – Red Deer @ Saskatoon; Sunday, March 21 (7:05pm)
#3 – Saskatoon @ Red Deer; Wednesday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#4 – Saskatoon @ Red Deer; Thursday, March 25 (7:00pm)
#5 – Red Deer @ Saskatoon; Saturday, March 27 (7:05pm)**
#6 – Saskatoon @ Red Deer; Monday, March 29 (7:00pm)**
#7 – Red Deer @ Saskatoon; Wednesday, March 31 (7:05pm)**


2009-10 regular-season record:

Kootenay: 43-24-3-2, 91pts (L10: 5-5-0-0)

Medicine Hat: 41-23-3-5, 90pts (L10: 8-2-0-0)

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Kootenay: 3-3-0-0, 6pts

Medicine Hat: 3-2-1-0, 7pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Dustin Sylvester 6gp-4g-5a-9pts

Matt Fraser 6gp-3g-4a-7pts

Medicine Hat:

Tristan King 6gp-3g-6a-9pts

Linden Vey 6gp-3g-4a-7pts

The Kootenay Ice and Medicine Hat Tigers meet up in the post-season for the second time in the last three years. Steve DaSilva and the Ice defeated Tyler Ennis and the Tigers four games to one in the first round of the 2008 WHL playoffs.

The Ice are making their 12th consecutive playoff appearance after posting their 11th straight season with a record above .500. The Ice have been a bit streaky this season, having struggled early on in the season before catching fire prior to the holiday break, then showing some inconsistency down the stretch. Offensively, the Ice have been led by veteran captain Dustin Sylvester, who finished eighth in the WHL scoring race. The Ice have two solid scoring lines, with six forwards who topped the 20-goal mark. In addition, they have a strong defense corps who can chip in offense, too. Defensively, the Ice boasted the third-best defensive record among Eastern Conference teams and owned the League’s fifth-best penalty killing unit. They’ll need to sharpen up versus a Tigers team that scored four or more goals in four of six head-to-head meetings this season. Goaltending has been strong for the Ice this season, with Todd Mathews having provided a consistent, solid presence in the Ice’s net.

The Tigers are making their eighth straight post-season appearance, and enter the post-season as the Conference’s fifth seed for a second straight year. After struggling through February, the Tigers appear to be heating up at the right time, winning their last six regular-season games. Offensively, the Tigers were the WHL’s second-highest scoring team during the regular season, potting 276 goals. Six forwards scored 20 or more goals while 12 players hit at least the 10-goal mark. Like the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Tigers have been terrific in 5-on-5 play, scoring 204 of their goals at even strength. Defensively, the Tigers surrendered 232 goals this season, tying them for sixth among the eight playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams. Mark Isherwood and the Tigers’ defense corps finished with a combined +78 rating. They will need to be strong to slow down the always-dangerous Dustin Sylvester. Sophomore Tyler Bunz played 57 games this season and posted decent numbers, showing he can carry the workload. Yet, Bunz is short on post-season experience, with just 73 minutes of playoff action under his belt.

Series Schedule

#1 – Medicine Hat @ Kootenay; Friday, March 19 (7:00pm)
#2 – Medicine Hat @ Kootenay; Saturday, March 20 (7:00pm)
#3 – Kootenay @ Medicine Hat; Tuesday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#4 – Kootenay @ Medicine Hat; Wednesday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#5 – Medicine Hat @ Kootenay; Friday, March 26 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Kootenay @ Medicine Hat; Sunday, March 28 (6:00pm)**
#7 – Medicine Hat @ Kootenay; Tuesday, March 31 (7:00pm)**




2009-10 regular-season record:

Tri-City: 47-22-1-2, 97pts (L10: 5-5-0-0)

Chilliwack: 32-33-2-5, 71pts (L10: 5-4-1-0)

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Tri-City: 1-3-0-0, 2pts

Chilliwack: 3-1-0-0, 6pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Johnny Lazo 4gp-5g-0a-5pts

Jordan Messier 4gp-3g-1a-4pts


Dylen McKinlay 4gp-4g-4a-8pts

Kevin Sundher 4gp-1g-5a-6pts

The Tri-City Americans and the Chilliwack Bruins meet up for their first WHL playoff series.

The Americans are making their seventh straight post-season appearance, and enter the playoffs as U.S. Division champs for a third straight season. Having led the Western Conference standings for almost the entire season, the Ams survived a late-season charge by Everett to lock up the Conference’s top spot for a second time in three years. Offensively, the Ams scored the most goals of any Western Conference team. The Ams boast a deep group of forwards – seven of whom hit at least the 20-goal mark – and own the League’s second-ranked power play. Brendan Shinnimin, Brooks Macek and Justin Feser all enjoyed career campaigns as sophomores while Johnny Lazo scored a career-best 39 goals. However, the Americans’ attack struggled with just 11 goals in four games versus the Bruins this season. Defensively, the Ams allowed the fourth-fewest number of goals of any WHL team. Yet, an improvement on their 15th-ranked penalty killing unit would enhance their chances of success.
In goal, Drew Owsley performed magnificently for the Ams this season. Having been injured down the stretch, the Ams are hoping he can be healthy for the start of the post-season.

The Bruins are back in the post-season after missing out last year, and are coming off their best regular-season campaign in their four-year existence. Offensively, the Bruins are the lowest-scoring team of the eight playoff-bound Western Conference squads. The team managed 215 goals – a franchise record – and owns the WHL’s 13th-ranked power play. The Bruins boast five players who topped the 20-goal mark, but only two others who topped the 10-goal mark. Ryan Howse led the Bruins with a franchise-record 47 goals, but 30 of those markers came before the calendar turned to 2010, and he only managed one in four games versus Tri-Cities. Defensively, the Bruins set a franchise record for fewest goals allowed at 239 while their penalty killing unit ranked 11th among WHL teams. 19-year-old Brandon Manning leads the Bruins’ defense corps, having posted a team-leading +20 as well as chipping in 13 goals and 54 points. Manning and the Bruins’ defense corps will need to find the same level of play that led them to win three of four regular-season meetings with the Ams. Goaltender Lucas Gore shined in three games versus Tri-Cities, winning all three starts and posting a stellar .946 save percentage while being named the 1st Star in each game.

Series Schedule (All Start Times Local)

#1 – Chilliwack @ Tri-City; Friday, March 19 (7:00pm)
#2 – Chilliwack @ Tri-City; Saturday, March 20 (7:00pm)
#3 – Tri-City @ Chilliwack; Tuesday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#4 – Tri-City @ Chilliwack; Wednesday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#5 – Chilliwack @ Tri-City; Friday, March 26 (7:00pm) **
#6 – Tri-City @ Chilliwack; Sunday, March 28 (5:00pm) **
#7 – Chilliwack @ Tri-City; Tuesday, March 30 (7:00pm) **


2009-10 regular-season record:

Vancouver: 41-25-3-3, 88pts (L10: 4-5-1-0)

Kamloops: 32-33-2-5, 71pts (L10: 5-4-0-1)

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Vancouver: 6-1-0-1, 13pts

Kamloops: 2-2-1-3, 8pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Kevin Connauton 8gp-3g-10a-13pts

Craig Cunningham 8gp-5g-7a-12pts


C.J. Stretch 8gp-3g-10a-13pts

Brendan Ranford 8gp-2g-5a-7pts

The Vancouver Giants and Kamloops Blazers meet up in the post-season for the first time since the 2003-04 season. Adam Courchaine and the Giants defeated Erik Christensen and the Blazers four games to one in the first round of the 2004 WHL playoffs.

The Giants are making their seventh straight post-season appearance, and come into the playoffs as B.C. Division champs for a record-tying fifth straight season. Though they may have stumbled a bit over the last half of the season, largely due to playing 28 of their last 30 games away from their home rink, the Pacific Coliseum, the Giants are still a formidable playoff opponent. Offensively, the Giants scored the fifth-most goals of any WHL team and own the WHL’s third-ranked power play. Six Giants hit at least the 20-goal mark while another four tallied at least 10 times. The Giants generated plenty of offense from the blue line, with their defense corps combining for 50 goals this season. Traditionally one of the WHL’s premiere defensive teams, the Giants allowed more than 200 goals for the first time since 2004-05. Yet they were still the fourth-best defensive team in the Western Conference. Rearguards Kevin Connauton and Neil Manning will be charged with tightening up in the defensive zone while continuing to provide offense from the back end. Goaltender Mark Segal has performed well since joining the Giants in late November. However, neither Segal nor backup Derek Tendler has any post-season experience.

The Blazers are making their fourth straight playoff appearance, but are looking to snap a 15-game playoff losing skid, dating back to 2005. The Blazers have played the Giants tough this season. Although they lost six of eight meetings, three of those games were lost in a shootout while another was lost in overtime. Offensively, the Blazers have been led by veteran C.J. Stretch and sophomore Brendan Ranford, who are the only two players with 20 or more goals. Forwards Jordan DePape and Chase Schaber have also contributed scoring while Jake Trask and Dylan Willick are the only other forwards with more than 10 goals. The Blazers do boast the League’s seventh-best power play, though. Defensively, the Blazers allowed the third-most goals of any WHL team, and, by far, the most goals of any playoff-bound team. For the Blazers to have success, they will need to improve on their 20th-ranked penalty killing if they want to stop Vancouver’s potent power play. Veteran goaltender Kurtis Mucha has played more regular-season games than any other netminder in WHL history. However, he has just 12 games of playoff experience after missing the post-season the last three years in Portland. Ironically, the last team Mucha faced in the playoff was the Giants in 2006.

Series Schedule

#1 – Kamloops @ Vancouver; Friday, March 19 (7:30pm)
#2 – Kamloops @ Vancouver; Saturday, March 20 (7:00pm)
#3 – Vancouver @ Kamloops; Tuesday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#4 – Vancouver @ Kamloops, Wednesday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#5 – Kamloops @ Vancouver; Friday, March 26 (7:30pm)**
#6 – Vancouver @ Kamloops; Saturday, March 27 (7:00pm)**
#7 – Kamloops @ Vancouver; Tuesday, March 30 (7:0pm)**


2009-10 regular-season record:

Everett: 46-21-3-2, 97pts (L10: 7-2-0-1)

Kelowna: 35-31-2-4, 76pts (L10: 6-3-0-1

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Everett: 4-1-0-0, 8pts

Kelowna: 1-4-0-0, 2pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Shane Harper 5gp-4g-7a-11pts

Tyler Maxwell 5gp-5g-3a-8pts


Mitchell Callahan 5gp-2g-3a-5pts

Shane McColgan 5gp-2g-3a-5pts

The Everett Silvertips meet the Kelowna Rockets in the post-season for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Peter Mueller and the Silvertips defeated Blake Comeau and the Rockets four games to two in the second round of the 2006 WHL playoffs.

The Silvertips are making their seventh straight playoff appearance, having made the playoffs in every season since joining the WHL in 2003-04, and come into the post-season on the back of their second-best regular-season campaign in franchise history. Offensively, the Silvertips boast five players who hit at least the 20-goal mark. Yet, after their top five forwards, only two other Silvertips hit the 10-goal mark. The line of Clayton Cumiskey, Scott MacDonald and Dan Iwanski has shown some offensive flair lately, and will be needed to help spread out the scoring during the post-season. Defensively, the Silvertips allowed the fewest number of goals in the WHL, despite having the 19th-ranked penalty killing unit. No WHL team was harder to score on at even strength than the ‘Tips. Rookies Radko Gudas and Ryan Murray led a Silvertips’ defense corps that was a combined +136 this season. Goaltending is a strength for the ‘Tips as both Thomas Heemskerk and Kent Simpson finished among the top five WHL netminders in GAA and save percentage. Heemskerk has five post-season games under his belt while Simpson has yet to see playoff action in the WHL.

The Rockets are making their third straight post-season appearance, and come into the 2010 playoffs as the defending WHL champions. Offensively, the Rockets have gotten plenty of their scoring from 16-year-old rookie Shane McColgan, offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie and veteran forward Brandon McMillan. Barrie was the only defenseman to lead his team in scoring while McColgan tied for second among all WHL rookies in points. Geordie Wudrick, Mitchell Callahan both topped the 20-goal mark while scoring depth has been provided by the likes of Cody Chikie, Brett Bulmer and Lucas Bloodoff. Getting speedy Evan Bloodoff back into the lineup will add another offensive threat. The Rockets will need to use their sixth-ranked power play to its fullest to beat a Silvertips’ team that doesn’t give up much at even strength. Defensively, the Rockets found themselves in the middle of the pack, in terms of goals-against, and rank eighth in the WHL on the penalty kill. If they can focus on shutting down Everett’s top five forwards, they’ll have a better chance of moving on. In goal, Mark Guggenberger has the experience of last season’s championship run, being the team’s starter, but has struggled since returning from injury. Adam Brown has enjoyed a solid season as the main man in net for the Rockets, but has no playoff games under his belt.

Series Schedule

#1 – Kelowna @ Everett; Friday, March 19 (7:35pm)
#2 – Kelowna @ Everett; Saturday, March 20 (7:05pm)
#3 – Everett @ Kelowna; Tuesday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#4 – Everett @ Kelowna; Wednesday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#5 – Kelowna @ Everett; Friday, March 26 (7:35pm)**
#6 – Everett @ Kelowna; Saturday, March 27 (7:00pm)**
#7 – Kelowna @ Everett; Monday, March 29 (7:05pm)**


2009-10 regular-season record:

Spokane: 45-22-3-2, 95pts (L10: 7-2-0-1)

Portland: 44-25-2-1, 91pts (L10: 7-3-0-0)

2009-10 head-to-head record:

Spokane: 3-5-0-0, 6pts

Portland: 5-2-0-1, 11pts

2009-10 head-to-head top scorers:


Mitch Wahl 8gp-6g-7a-13pts

Kyle Beach 8gp-5g-4a-9pts


Brad Ross 8gp-5g-7a-12pts

Ryan Johansen 8gp-4g-3a-7pts

The Spokane Chiefs and Portland Winterhawks meet up in the post-season for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Mason Wallin and the Chiefs defeated Craig Valette and the Winterhawks four games to three in the opening round of the 2003 WHL playoffs.

The Chiefs are making their fourth straight playoff appearance, and enter the post-season on the back of their third straight campaign with 45 or more victories. The also enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference, having posted a 13-2-0-1 record in their final 15 games. Offensively, the Chiefs have gotten most of their scoring from four players – Mitch Wahl, Kyle Beach, Tyler Johnson and Levko Koper. Those four combined to score 145 of the team’s 240 goals. Beyond those four, only Blake Gal and Kenton Miller hit the 10-goal mark. Fortunately, not many teams have been able to slow down the duo of Beach and Wahl, who have dominated in the offensive zone all season and helped the team to the sixth-best power play rating in the League. Defensively, only Everett allowed fewer goals than the Chiefs. Owners of the League’s third-ranked penalty killing unit, the Chiefs’ defense corps combined for a +84 rating. Veteran Jared Spurgeon has provided plenty of offense from the back end while Jared Cowen has rebounded from a tough 2008-09 season to earn praise as a terrific shutdown defenseman. The Chiefs’ defense corps did struggle versus Portland’s group of talented and physical forwards. James Reid enjoyed a stellar season in his first foray as a starter. Although he had a losing record versus Portland, Reid still posted very good numbers in seven games.

The Winterhawks are back in the post-season after missing the playoffs the last three seasons. They come into the 2010 playoffs after enjoying their most successful regular-season campaign since 1997-98 when they won the Memorial Cup. Offensively, the Winterhawks scored the third-most goals of any Western Conference team, and boast a deep group of forwards. Five Hawks forwards hit at least the 20-goal mark while 11 Hawks players scored at least 10 times. The Hawks’ forwards, though, are short on post-season experience, with only Stefan Schneider having seen playoff action in the WHL. Defensively, the Hawks allowed the third-most goals of any WHL team who qualified for the post-season. Swiss veteran Luca Sbisa will be counted on for his previous playoff experience and his Olympic experience, while Eric Doyle also has 28 games of WHL playoff experience to fall back on. Goaltenders Ian Curtis and Mac Carruth split duties for most of the second half of the season. Curtis is the more experienced of the two goalies, when it comes to regular-season play. However, neither has seen any post-season action. The Hawks had success versus the Chiefs this season, winning all four visits to Spokane Veterans’ Memorial Arena.

Series Schedule

#1 – Spokane @ Portland; Saturday, March 20 (7:00pm) Rose Garden
#2 – Spokane @ Portland; Sunday, March 21 (5:00pm) Rose Garden
#3 – Portland @ Spokane; Wednesday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#4 – Portland @ Spokane; Friday, March 26 (7:00pm)
#5 – Portland @ Spokane; Saturday, March 27 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Spokane @ Portland; Monday, March 29 (7:00pm) Rose Garden**
#7 – Portland @ Spokane; Wednesday, March 31 (7:00pm)**


Anonymous said...

Where would the Broncos have played their home games had the Pats gotten in? Would they have gone somewhere like Weyburn or not? What about Notre Dame?

Anonymous said...

They would have gone to Lethbridge.