Friday, May 6, 2016

WHL Finals Preview

(Photo Courtesy WHL)

The 2016 WHL Championship Series presented by Rogers begins Friday between the WHL Eastern Conference champion Brandon Wheat Kings and the WHL Western Conference champion Seattle Thunderbirds. The 2016 WHL Championship Series will open in Brandon, MB as the Wheat Kings and Thunderbirds battle to become the League’s 50th champions and earn a spot at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Red Deer, AB.

 WHL Championship Series presented by Rogers – Game Schedule
Date Game Away   Home Time Broadcast
Friday, May 6 1 Seattle @ Brandon 8:00pm CDT Sportsnet 360/NHL Network(delay)
Saturday, May 7 2 Seattle @ Brandon 7:30pm CDT Shaw/Westman/Root(delay)
Tuesday, May 10 3 Brandon @ Seattle 7:05pm PDT Shaw/Westman/Root(delay)
Wednesday, May 11 4 Brandon @ Seattle 7:05pm PDT Shaw/Westman/Root(delay)
Friday, May 13 5* Brandon @ Seattle 7:35pm PDT Shaw/Westman/TBD
Sunday, May 15 6* Seattle @ Brandon 7:00pm CDT Shaw/Westman/TBD
Monday, May 16 7* Seattle @ Brandon 7:00pm CDT Shaw/Westman/TBD

Brandon and Seattle have never met in the WHL Championship Series. The Thunderbirds last made it to the League final in 1997, while the Wheat Kings will look for redemption after falling to Kelowna one year ago.

Brandon Wheat Kings

Scoring Leaders
John Quenneville              16gp-13g-11a (24pts)
Nolan Patrick                     16gp-10g-14a (24pts)
Tim McGauley                   16gp-8g-13a (21pts)
Reid Duke                           16gp-6g-14a (20pts)
Jayce Hawryluk                 16gp-2g-18a (20pts)

The Brandon Wheat Kings reach the WHL Championship Series for the eighth time in franchise history, having previously won the Ed Chynoweth Cup twice. In 1996, the Wheat Kings defeated the Spokane Chiefs in five games to be crowned WHL Champions and also claimed top honours back in 1979 when they defeated the Portland Winter Hawks in six games.

The Wheat Kings’ quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup continues as they eliminated the MasterCard Memorial Cup-host Red Deer Rebels in five games in the WHL Eastern Conference Championship. The Wheat Kings outscored the Rebels 21-17 in a hard-fought series.

Offensively, the Wheat Kings have five players that have eclipsed the 20 point mark thus far in the 2016 WHL Playoffs. Wheat Kings forward and two-time WHL Player of the Month Jayce Hawryluk has been consistent as he has collected 20 points (2g-18a) so far in the post-season, of which eight (0g-8a) occurred against the Rebels.

Defensively, WHL Defenceman of the Year Ivan Provorov and NHL Draft-eligible Kale Clague have been steady members of the Wheat Kings blueline. The two rearguards have combined for nine goals and 24 points thus far in the postseason.

The power play has remained productive for the Wheat Kings as they have collected 13 goals on the man advantage. The Wheat Kings’ power play owns a success rate of 20.7% while the penalty kill has been effective 79.3% of the time. Brandon can be dangerous on the penalty kill as they have scored five shorthanded goals throughout the playoffs and possess an 11-1 record when leading after two periods of play.

Goaltender Jordan Papirny has been steady in net for the Wheat Kings and enters the WHL Championship Series with a record of 12-4 to go along with a 2.89 goals against average and a .897 save percentage with one shutout.

Seattle Thunderbirds

Scoring Leaders
Mathew Barzal                  13gp-5g-14a (19pts)
Ethan Bear                         13gp-6g-9a (15pts)
Scott Eansor                      13gp-7g-3a (10pts)
Keegan Kolesar                 11gp-6g-4a (10pts)

The Seattle Thunderbirds enter the WHL Championship Series for the second time in franchise history. Their lone appearance came in 1997 when they were swept by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in four games.

En route to their date with the Wheat Kings, the Thunderbirds conquered the defending WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets in four games in the WHL Western Conference Championship. Despite the four-game sweep, the Thunderbirds won three of the four contests by one goal, including a dramatic double overtime victory in Game 4 to clinch the series.

New York Islanders prospect Mathew Barzal leads the Club in postseason scoring with 19 points (5g-14a). Thunderbirds forward Scott Eansor has been a big moment player for Seattle as he notched back-to-back game winning goals in Games 1 and 2 against Kelowna last round. The Thunderbirds also boast 10 players who own at least a plus-6 rating in the WHL Playoffs.
Defensively, Edmonton Oilers prospect Ethan Bear leads a back end that has been strong throughout the post-season, allowing just 21 goals in 13 games. Jerret Smith and Jared Hauf bring further size and reliability to the defensive group as the two have combined for an impressive plus-28 rating in the playoffs.

The penalty kill play from Seattle has been a key contributor to playoff success, operating at 86.7%.

Acquired via trade from Swift Current mid-season, goaltender Landon Bow will be counted on in the Thunderbirds’ cage as he has started every playoff contest for Seattle, posting a 12-1 record along the way. Bow owns a postseason goals against average of 1.54 and a stellar .936 save percentage with two shutouts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

2 games to zip Brandon, but the next 3 are in Seattle, so this isn't over yet.