Thursday, May 4, 2017

WHL Championship Preview


 The 2017 WHL Championship Series presented by Rogers will open Friday in Regina as the Pats and Thunderbirds battle to become the 51st WHL Champions and earn a spot at the 2017 WHL MasterCard Memorial Cup in Windsor, Ont.

Regina and Seattle meet in the WHL Championship Series presented by Rogers for the first time in WHL history. The Pats’ last appeared in the WHL Championship in 1984, falling to the Kamloops Jr. Oilers in seven games. The Thunderbirds’ last appearance in the WHL Championship came in 1997 in which Seattle fell to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a four-game sweep.

WHL Championship Series presented by Rogers – Game Schedule
Friday, May 5 1 Seattle at Regina 7 p.m. MT
Saturday, May 6 2 Seattle at Regina 7 p.m. MT
Tuesday, May 9 3 Regina at Seattle 7:05 p.m. PT
Wed., May 10 4 Regina at Seattle 7:05 p.m. PT
Friday, May 12 5* Regina at Seattle 7:35 p.m. PT
Sunday, May 14 6* Seattle at Regina 6 p.m. MT
Monday, May 15 7* Seattle at Regina 7 p.m. MT
*= if necessary
 Here’s a look at the match-up for the 2017 WHL Championship Series presented by Rogers:


2016-17 Regular Season Records
Regina: 52-12-7-1, 112 points
Seattle: 46-20-4-2, 98 points
2016-17 Head-to-Head Records
Regina: 1-0-0-0, 2 points
Seattle: 0-1-0-0, 0 points

 Regina Pats

2017 WHL Playoffs Scoring Leaders
C Sam Steel – 17 GP, 8-16–24
LW Dawson Leedahl – 17 GP, 11-9–20
D Connor Hobbs – 17 GP, 4-15–19
LW Austin Wagner – 16 GP, 14-4–18
C Adam Brooks – 15 GP, 5-13–18

The Regina Pats reach the WHL Championship Series for the seventh time in franchise history, having previously won the Ed Chynoweth Cup twice. In 1980, the Pats defeated the Victoria Cougars in five games to claim top honours and were previously crowned WHL Champions in 1974 when they knocked off the Calgary Centennials in four games.

The Pats journey this season continues after they eliminated the Lethbridge Hurricanes in six games in the WHL Eastern Conference Championship series in which they outscored the Hurricanes by a margin of 23-17.

Offensively, Sam Steel and Adam Brooks – the top two scorers in the CHL during the regular season – represent two of nine Pats to have collected at least 10 points thus far in the 2017 WHL Playoffs. Defenceman Connor Hobbs – who led all WHL defencemen in scoring during the regular season – continues to contribute to the blue line.

Defensively, Hobbs and Josh Mahura – both NHL draftees – lead a blue line that has only given up 40 goals in 17 post-season games as Regina enters the WHL Championship Series.

After entering the WHL Playoffs with the deadliest regular season power play, the Pats have converted on 25.4 per cent of their man-advantage opportunities in the post-season, good for eighth among all WHL Clubs. The penalty kill has not been quite as efficient, shutting down opposition power plays at a rate of 78.3 per cent, good enough for sixth among all WHL Clubs.

Goaltender Tyler Brown has been beyond steady in the blue paint, most recently earning Vaughn WHL Goaltender of the Month honours for the month of April. He enters the WHL Championship Series with a record of 12-5 to go alongside a 2.13 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.

Seattle Thunderbirds

2017 WHL Playoffs Scoring Leaders
RW Keegan Kolesar – 14 GP, 9-13–22
RW Donovan Neuls – 14 GP, 6-12–18
C Mathew Barzal – 10 GP, 5-12–17
C Alexander True – 14 GP, 8-8–16
D Ethan Bear – 11 GP, 5-11–16

The Seattle Thunderbirds return to the WHL Championship Series for the second consecutive season after falling to the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games. Yet to hoist the Ed Chynoweth Cup, the Thunderbirds are making their third appearance in the WHL Championship Series with the only other coming in 1997 when they fell in four games to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

En route to their date with the Pats, the Thunderbirds disposed of the Kelowna Rockets in six games – eliminating the Rockets for the second consecutive year in the WHL’s Western Conference Championship Series.

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Keegan Kolesar leads the Club in post-season scoring, though the Thunderbirds will go without his services in Game 1 as he sits out following a one-game suspension. New York Islanders prospect Mathew Barzal continues to pace the offense and appears to be firing on all cylinders after missing the opening round of the WHL Playoffs with an undisclosed illness.

Defensively, Ethan Bear’s status remains up in the air after he missed Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Championship Series due to injury. In his stead, trade acquisition Austin Strand has provided valuable experience on the backend for a team that has only allowed 35 goals in 14 post-season contests.

The high-flying Thunderbirds own the most lethal power play to this point in the WHL Playoffs, converting at a rate of 35.8 per cent. The penalty-killing unit isn’t half bad either, shutting down 81.4 per cent of opposing power plays, good enough for third among all WHL Clubs.

Perhaps the biggest story of the 2017 WHL Playoffs is the emergence of 17-year-old rookie Carl Stankowski. With only seven games of WHL experience prior to the post-season, the former second-round bantam selection has gone 12-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .913 save percentage over 14 post-season appearances. He took over the crease late in the regular season when overage veteran Rylan Toth was felled by injury.

Current NHL Prospects

Regina Pats
Ahl, Filip LW 1997 Ottawa Senators
Brooks, Adam C 1996 Toronto Maple Leafs
Steel, Sam C 1998 Anaheim Ducks
Wagner, Austin LW 1997 Los Angeles Kings
Hobbs, Connor D 1997 Washington Capitals
Mahura, Josh D 1998 Anaheim Ducks
Zborovskiy, Sergey D 1997 New York Rangers

Seattle Thunderbirds
Barzal, Mathew C 1997 New York Islanders
Gropp, Ryan LW 1996 New York Rangers
Kolesar, Keegan RW 1997 Columbus Blue Jackets
Bear, Ethan D 1997 Edmonton Oilers

2017 NHL Draft Prospects

Regina Pats
Henry, Nick C 1999 25th (N.A. Skaters)
Leschyshyn, Jake C 1999 42nd (N.A. Skaters)
Smart, Jonathan D 1999 149th (N.A. Skaters)
Hollett, Jordan G 1999 15th (N.A. Goaltenders)

Seattle Thunderbirds
Tyszka, Jarret D 1999 42nd (N.A. Skaters)
Moilanen, Sami RW 1999 110th (N.A. Skaters)
Wedman, Matthew D 1999 210th (N.A. Skaters)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Take the first month of the season away, and this team is better than the Pats. Regina fans thinking this will be a cakewalk had better think again. They will have to bring their "A" game to get past these guys, and they haven't brought their "A" game to the table on a consistent basis in the playoffs.