2007-08 WHL Eastern Conference Preview
The Medicine Hat Tigers have been the class of the WHL Eastern Conference for four straight seasons.
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rWill this be the year another team can wrestle away the Eastern Conference title from the 2007 WHL Champion Tigers?
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rWith 12 teams now calling the Eastern Conference home, including the Edmonton Oil Kings, the battle for one of eight post-season berths will grow even more intense.
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rHere's a look at how the WHL Eastern Conference teams are shaping up:
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rEASTERN CONFERENCE
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rEast Division
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rBrandon Wheat Kings
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r2008 pre-season: (W/L/OT/SOL) 3-1-0-0
rGeneral Manager: Kelly McCrimmon
rHead Coach: Kelly McCrimmon
r2006-07 Record: 41-20-3-8, 93 pts (1st in East Div., 3rd in Conf.) GF: 258 GA: 214
r2007 Playoffs: Lost in six games to Calgary in second round.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Codey Burki 70gp-36g-49a-85pts
r Mark Derlago 72gp-46g-35a-81pts
r Rob Klinkhammer 66gp-33g-40a-73pts
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rThe 2007-08 edition of the Wheat Kings will have a much different look than the one that claimed the East Division crown last season. The graduation of six of the team's top seven scorers from last year will leave the door open for the next wave of Wheat Kings' stars.
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rUp Front: The Wheat Kings stand to lose five of their top six scoring forwards from last season with the departure of Codey Burki, Mark Derlago, Rob Klinkhammer, Juraj Simek and Jeff Topilko, who accounted for 141 of the teams 258 goals in 2006-07. Veterans Andrew Clark, who netted 28 goals last season, and Tyler Dittmer will be counted on heavily to fill the offensive void. Sophomores Jay Fehr and Daniel Bartek will be expected to improve upon solid rookie seasons last year and provide some offense. Talented rookies Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie both put up impressive numbers in Midget AAA last year, and could make contributions to the Wheaties' offense as well. The acquisition of 19-year-old Matt Lowry from Medicine Hat will also add some offensive depth and valuable experience.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Wheat Kings will return up to six rearguards from last year's squad. Although the team will miss the offensive and puck-moving abilities of Dustin Kohn, they may still return Daryl Boyle, who put up 11 goals and 49 points last season. Boyle, though, could turn pro in the Boston Bruins organization. Keith Aulie, who was drafted by the Calgary Flames in June, has the ability to be a dominant shutdown defenseman in the East Division. Also returning are 20-year-old veterans Theran Yeo and Mark Louis, as well as sophomore Colby Robak. The Wheat Kings' blue line will certainly be imposing as the team doesn't have a rearguard under 6 ‘1”.
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rGoaltending: The graduation of Florida Panthers' prospect Tyler Plante leaves the door open for someone else to take the number one job with the Wheaties. 18-year-old Joe Caligiuri, who played 19 games as a rookie for the team last season, is the lone goaltender in the Wheat Kings' training camp with WHL experience, and should have the inside track on the starting job. Look for rookie Andrew Hayes to grab the back-up role.
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rMoose Jaw Warriors
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r2008 pre-season: 2-3-0-1
rGeneral Manager: Chad Lang
rHead Coach: Dave Hunchak
r2006-07 Record: 28-41-3-0, 59 pts (5th in East Div., 10th in Conf.) GF: 217 GA: 271
r2007 Playoffs: Did not qualify.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Riley Holzapfel 72gp-39g-43a-82pts
r Jason Reese 73gp-30g-40a-70pts
r Steven Gillen 72gp-25g-38a-63pts
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rAfter missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade last season, the Warriors will be looking to get themselves back in the post-season in 2007-08. With many key players returning from last year's squad, and new coach Dave Hunchak at the helm, the Warriors have the chance to improve upon last season's fifth-place finish in the East Division.
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rUp Front: The Warriors return six of their top seven scorers from last season. Atlanta Thrashers prospect Riley Holzapfel enjoyed a tremendous 2006-07 campaign, finishing in the top 10 in WHL scoring, and could challenge for a WHL scoring title again this season. Jason Reese scored at a point-per-game clip after being acquired from Vancouver in the Kenndal McArdle trade. With Reese, Jason Bast, Keith Voytechek, Jordan Knackstedt and Brady Calla all due back in the fold, the Warriors should be able to generate enough offense. The addition of former Kamloops Blazer Terrance Delaronde adds grit and leadership to the Warriors front lines.
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rOn The Blue Line: Although the Warriors return five defensemen from last season, they will have a young blue line this season. Of the seven rearguards on their roster, only Jock Sutter is over 19 years old, and only Travis Ehrhardt has more than 100 games of WHL experience. Offense from the blue line is a question as well as only Sutter and Ehrhardt have scored at the WHL level, with three goals between the two of them. Ehrhardt, who put up 29 assists last season, does have the ability to be a solid puck-moving presence, and quarterback for the Warriors' power play.
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rGoaltending: 20-year-olds Joey Perricone and Kurt Jory will battle for the starting job in Moose Jaw's net, but don't expect them both to be around as the season gets going. Perricone has plenty of WHL experience, having backstopped the team to the 2006 WHL Championship series, while Jory was solid in his 29 appearances for the Warriors last season after being acquired from Brandon. Since both are overagers, expect one to be moved. Look for 17-year-old Todd Matthews to slot into the back-up role.
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rPrince Albert Raiders
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r2008 pre-season: 3-2-0-1
rGeneral Manager: Donn Clark
rHead Coach: Bruno Campese
r2006-07 Record: 27-39-3-3, 60 pts (4th in East Div., 9th in Conf.) GF: 203 GA: 266
r2007 Playoffs: Lost in five games to Brandon in first round.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Matt Robertson 69gp-37g-27a-64pts
r Ryan DePape 62gp-25g-31a-56pts
rMike Hellyer 71gp-20g-32a-52pts
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rThe Raiders were quickly eliminated by Brandon in the 2007 playoff after barely scraping into the post-season following a late-season melt-down. Under new head coach Bruno Campese, and with a strong cast of returning players, the Raiders will be looking to climb the East Division standings and make the post-season with some breathing room in 2007-08.
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rUp Front: The Raiders return five of their top six scoring forwards from 2006-07, including 2007 WHL Rookie of the Year finalist Matt Robertson. The 19-year-old Prince Albert native scored 37 goals last season, and is a legitimate threat to top the 50-goal mark this season. Also back are Ryan DePape and Ryan McDonald, who both tallied over 20 goals last season, and Andy Smith and Devon LeBlanc, who could both break the 20-goal mark this season. Youngsters such as Mike Small, Brandon Herrod and James Dobrowolski put up good offensive numbers for their Midget AAA teams last season, and could step in to contribute.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Raiders return an experienced group of rearguards, led by 20-year-olds Jeff May, John Flatters and Mike Gauthier. Although there's no guarantee all three will be there after the 20-year-old cut-down, having one or two of them will help the Raiders' younger defensemen. Also returning are Justin Palazzo, Colin Scherger, Blaine Tendler and Cody Vann, who all have another year of experience under their belts. Rookie Nathan Deck, acquired last season from Vancouver, possesses great skating, puck-moving and offensive skills, and could work his way into the mix.
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rGoaltending: The acquisition of 20-year-old Dustin Butler from Kamloops gives the Raiders a steady, veteran presence between the pipes. Butler may have struggled down the stretch for the Blazers, but he was excellent for the majority of the season in 2006-07. David Aime, last season's back-up to Jesse Deckert, and 16-year-old rookie Steven Stanford will battle for the back-up role.
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rRegina Pats
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r2008 pre-season: 3-3-0-0
rGeneral Manager: Brent Parker
rHead Coach: Curtis Hunt
r2006-07 Record: 36-28-2-6, 80 pts (2nd in East Div., 5th in Conf.) GF: 234 GA: 220
r2007 Playoffs: Lost in four games to Medicine Hat in second round.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Garrett Festerling 67gp-22g-51a-73pts
rKyle Ross 71gp-20g-48a-68pts
r Logan Pyett 71gp-14g-48a-62pts
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rThe Pats will see as many as 18 players returning from the 2006-07 edition of the team that finished 2nd in the East Division. With strength and depth throughout their line-up, the Pats will once again look to challenge for an East Division title.
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rUp Front: Although they may have lost their top two scorers - Garrett Festerling and Kyle Ross - from last year's squad, the Pats still return a lot of scoring punch. Jordan Eberle tallied a team-best 28 goals while adding 27 assists as a 16-year-old last season. Expect him to better those numbers this year. The Pats also return Michael MacAngus and Troy Ofukany, who both topped the 20-goal mark last season, and Brett Leffler and Jared Jagow, who will be expected to contribute more to the offense this year. Former Prince Albert Raider Cody Gross also has the potential to provide scoring. Mike Reich and 6' 5” Josh Elder add a physical and gritty element to the mix up front.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Pats' strength this season will lie on the blue line, where they return six WHL-experienced defensemen and boast a couple of highly-touted rookies looking to break in. Veteran Logan Pyett, a member of Team Canada at the recent Canada-Russia Super Series, scored 14 goals and 62 points from the blue line last season, and could again be one of the top offensive rearguards in the WHL. Nick Ross, the Phoenix Coyotes' first-round pick this summer, is a punishing checker who also possesses a heavy shot, while sophomore Colten Teubert has the makings of an elite shutdown defenseman. Add in Craig Schira, Matt Delahey, Spencer Fraipont and promising rookie candidates Alex Pym and Curtis Kulchar, and the Pats should have one of the top defense corps in the East Division.
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rGoaltending: Los Angeles Kings prospect Linden Rowat returns as the main man in net for the Pats. Rowat won 25 games in 52 appearances for the Pats last season. With a stronger defense in front of him this season, he should be able to improve on his 2.87 goals-against average and .897 save percentage from last season. Rookie Jeff Bosch will handle the back-up role.
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rSaskatoon Blades
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r2008 pre-season: 2-2-1-0
rGeneral Manager: Lorne Molleken
rHead Coach: Lorne Molleken
r2006-07 Record: 27-41-2-2, 58 pts (6th in East Div., 11th in Conf.) GF: 174 GA: 231
r2007 Playoffs: Did not qualify.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Ryan Menei 71gp-35g-42a-77pts
r Justin McCrae 61gp-16g-33a-49pts
r Brad Cole 63gp-16g-25a-41pts
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rAlthough still a young team, the 2007-08 edition of the Blades are expecting to climb their way up the East Division standings. The team returns a solid group of young players, and made some significant off-season moves to ensure they can compete with their division rivals.
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rUp Front: Despite not having a returning 20-goal scorer on their roster, the Blades return several forwards who will be expected to greatly increase their offensive contributions this season. Derek Hulak and Justin McCrae are the only two returning forwards who scored more than 15 goals last year. They will be counted on to improve their totals this season. Minnesota Wild first-rounder Colton Gillies and sophomore Walker Wintoneak will also be counted on for more offense. Slovakian rookie Robert Brandis and highly-regarded 16-year-old Curtis Hamilton are capable of making an impact. The acquisition of 20-year-old Saskatoon natives Chris Durand and Michael Kaye will greatly bolster the Blades' offense, and will also provide the team with more veteran leadership. Durand struggled during the regular season last year, but was a force in the Cougars' lengthy playoff run. If he plays to the level he is capable of, Durand could be dominant for the Blades this season.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Blades return only four defensemen from last season's squad, and only one - Brett Ward - with over 100 games of WHL experience. The addition of 20-year-old Curtis Patterson, a Saskatoon product, from the Prince George Cougars gives the Blades a strong defensive presence and some veteran savvy on their blue line. Ward is the highest-scoring returning rearguard, having tallied four goals and 21 points last year, while 16-year-old rookie Stefan Elliott has the ability to become a solid offensive defenseman. The Blades will also welcome 17-year-old Finnish rookie Jyri Niemi into the fold.
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rGoaltending: Returnees Braden Holtby and Garrett Zemlak, both 18, will again be the goaltending duo for the Blades. Holtby started the majority of games last season, posting a 17-29-2-1 record and a .895 save percentage. Zemlak was impressive in his 20 appearances, posting a 2.77 goal-against average and a .903 save percentage.
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rSwift Current Broncos
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r2008 pre-season: 4-2-0-0
rGeneral Manager: Dean Chynoweth
rHead Coach: Dean Chynoweth
r2006-07 Record: 33-36-1-2, 69 pts (3rd in East Div., 8th in Conf.) GF: 199 GA: 241
r2007 Playoffs: Lost in six games to Regina in first round.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Levi Nelson 66gp-18g-34a-52pts
r Dale Weise 67gp-18g-25a-43pts
r Jeremy Schenderling 65gp-23g-18a-41pts
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rWith as many as 18 players returning from last year's squad, the Broncos will look to improve upon last season's third-place finish in the East Division. After two straight first-round exits, the Broncos will also be aiming at extending their post-season tenure.
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rUp Front: Despite losing Jeremy Schenderling - their lone 20-goal scorer from last year - to graduation, the Broncos return several key offensive players, and should be able to improve upon their 17th-ranked offense from last year. Back are Levi Nelson and Dale Weise, the team's top two point producers last season, and Kyle Bortis, David Stieler, Zack Smith and Brady Leavold, who all topped the 10-goal, 30-point mark. Geordie Wudrick, who played for Canada's Under-18 team this summer, will be looking for a breakout year after impressing as a 16-year-old rookie last season. Czech Rookie Jan Dalecky could be an offensive weapon for the Broncos this year, while 16-year-old Cody Eakin may be able to contribute if given the opportunity.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Broncos have as many as seven rearguards from last season returning this year. Overage veteran Michael Wilson potted 10 goals and 37 points this year. He will be counted on to provide leadership and more offense from the blue line. Eric Doyle and Atlanta Thrashers prospect Paul Postma also provide solid two-way ability to the defense corps, while R.J. LaRochelle and Ryan Molle provide size, toughness and strength to the back end.
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rGoaltending: With the graduation of Kyle Moir, the Broncos will have a new number one goaltender for the first time in five seasons. 19-year-old Travis Yonkman will take the reigns as the Broncos' starter after two seasons as Moir's back-up, while rookie Ian Curtis looks to be the guy to fill the back-up role.
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rCentral Division
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rCalgary Hitmen
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r2008 pre-season: 2-3-0-0
rGeneral Manager: Kelly Kisio
rHead Coach: Kelly Kisio
r2006-07 Record: 39-26-3-4, 85 pts (3rd in Central Div., 4th in Conf.) GF: 251 GA: 205
r2007 Playoffs: Lost in five games to Medicine Hat in Eastern Conference final.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Ryan White 72gp-34g-55a-89pts
r Brodie Dupont 70gp-37g-33a-70pts
rKeegan Dansereau 71gp-28g-31a-59pts
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rThe Calgary Hitmen made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Championship series last season, losing to the eventual WHL Champion Medicine Hat Tigers. This year, with most of their key players returning and with several big-name additions, the Hitmen will again look to be a strong contender to bring home the Ed Chynoweth trophy.
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rUp Front: The Hitmen lost some scoring with the departure of Brodie Dupont, Derek LeBlanc, Fredrik Pettersson and Robin Figren. However, with the return of Ryan White, a top-five scorer in the League last season, Keegan Dansereau, Ian Duval, and Brett Sonne, the Hitmen boast four players who topped the 20-goal mark last season. Look for White to once again challenge for a scoring title. In addition, sophomores Brendan Rowinski and Devon Kalinski, 20-year-old Adam Ross, and the skilled Brandon Kozun could become productive offensive players. The addition of Colorado Avalanche prospect T.J. Galiardi, who played for Dartmouth College last season, as well as Slovenia's Bostjan Golicic and Slovakian Martin Stepan will also bolster the offense.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Hitmen will boast one of the most formidable defense corps in the WHL this season, featuring three NHL drafted players. Karl Alzner was selected fifth overall by Washington at this summer's NHL draft. The solid blueliner, who may get an extended look at the Caps' training camp, can put up points in the offensive zone and is near flawless in the defensive zone. Alex Plante, a first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers, has great size, plays physical, and possesses a booming shot. The addition of Keith Seabrook, another Washington draft pick, adds more skill to the blue line, while sophomores Michael Stone and Brett Plouffe should be able to contribute more in their second season in the League.
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rGoaltending: Dan Spence performed well for the Hitmen last season, finishing among the WHL's top 10 goaltenders in wins, goals-against average and save percentage. He'll take on the majority of the workload again this season, while 17-year-old Martin Jones slots into the back-up role for a second season.
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rEdmonton Oil Kings
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r2008 pre-season: 4-3-0-0
rGeneral Manager: Bob Green
rHead Coach: Steve Pleau
r2006-07 Record: -
r2007 Playoffs: -
r2006-07 Top Scorers: -
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rThe Oil Kings kick off their inaugural WHL season with the hopes of emulating the League's two most recent expansion teams - the Chilliwack Bruins and Everett Silvertips - by making the post-season in their first attempt.
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rUp Front: Although they lack a proven scoring forward at the WHL level, the Oil Kings have some intriguing prospects who could emerge as offensive leaders. Of the seven WHL-experienced forwards on their roster, none topped the 10-goal mark last season except for former Calgary Hitman Robin Figren. Figren, Czech rookie Tomas Vincour, former Kamloops Blazer Brenden Dowd and ex-Red Deer Rebel Karey Pieper will all be counted on to create offense. J.P. Szaszkiewicz and Scott Skrudland also add physicality and toughness to the team's forward ranks. Winger Craig McCallum put up impressive numbers in Midget AAA last season and has impressed in pre-season action, showing he has the skill and ability to become an offensive force. Rookie Brent Raedeke has also been impressive through the pre-season and could make a difference this season.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Oil Kings defense corps should be a strength in their first WHL campaign. Veterans Cameron Cepek, Bretton Stamler, Matt Swaby and Michael Hengen have a combined 800 games of WHL experience between them. Stamler and Hengen each tallied eight goals and over 30 points last season, and should be able to help the Oil Kings' offense from the back end. Sophomore Lance Redden will be expected to step up his play in his second full WHL season.
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rGoaltending: Alex Archibald helped backstop the Chilliwack Bruins to a playoff spot in their first WHL campaign last year. Now, the 20-year-old netminder will try and do it again with the expansion Oil Kings. Although he struggled at times last season, Archibald has plenty of WHL experience to fall back on. Former Kamloops Blazer Dalyn Flette will slot into the back-up role.
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rKootenay Ice
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r2008 pre-season: 2-2-0-0
rGeneral Manager: Jeff Chynoweth
rHead Coach: Mark Holick
r2006-07 Record: 49-17-3-3, 104 pts (2nd in Central. Div., 2nd in Conf.) GF: 267 GA: 189
r2007 Playoffs: Lost in seven games to Calgary in first round.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Steve DaSilva 71gp-38g-53a-91pts
r Ryan Russell 58gp-30g-46a-76pts
r Andrew Bailey 72gp-30g-42a-72pts
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rAlthough they may lose several big-time players from last year's 49-victory squad, the Ice always seem to find a way to remain competitive. With some key returnees, the progression of some of the team's younger players, and with a new head coach in Mark Holick, the Ice will look to remain competitive in what will be a tough Central Division.
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rUp Front: The Ice could potentially lose several of their top scorers from last year. Curtis Billsten, a 24-goal man last season, has graduated, while top scorers Ryan Russell and Steve DaSilva, both 20, could very well turn pro this season. Russell is signed by the Montreal Canadiens and is the most likely to not return. However, despite the losses, the Ice still possess plenty of scoring with the return of 30-goal man Andrew Bailey and solid point producers Clayton Bauer, Dustin Sylvester, and Arnaud Jacquemet. Ben Maxwell suffered an injury-plagued season last year. If he remains healthy, he could challenge for a scoring title. Sophomores Tylan Stephens, Kevin King and Michael Stickland will be expected to step up their play as well. If DaSilva returns, it will only further bolster the Ice's offense.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Ice will miss the presence of Mike Busto and Lukas Bohunicky on the blue line. However, in Chad Greenan, the Ice still have a top-end offensive threat. John Negrin, a Calgary Flames prospect, will be able to contribute more after suffering injuries last season, while Ian Barteaux and Jordan Wilkins should see bigger roles in their sophomore seasons. Czech rookie Jiri Ryzuk and 16-year-old Brayden McNabb could add more size if they find themselves in the Ice's blue line plans.
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rGoaltending: The graduation of San Jose Sharks prospect Taylor Dakers leaves a big void for the Ice to fill. Kris Lazaruk, who backed up Dakers the last two seasons, looks to fill the number one job in Kootenay's goal. Lazaruk has posted a 31-16-3 record in two seasons with the Ice, and has shown he is capable of providing solid netminding. Nathan Lieuwen, 16, played one game as a 15-year-old last season, and could slot into the back-up role this season.
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rLethbridge Hurricanes
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r2008 pre-season: 2-1-0-1
rGeneral Manager: Roy Stasiuk
rHead Coach: Michael Dyck
r2006-07 Record: 33-34-2-3, 63 pts (5th in Central Div., 7th in Conf.) GF: 254 GA: 265
r2006 Playoffs: Did not qualify.
r2005-06 Top Scorers:
r Zach Boychuk 69gp-31g-60a-91pts
rMitch Fadden 71gp-36g-48a-84pts
r Kris Hogg 70gp-39g-30a-69pts
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rUnder the new Conference-based rankings and playoff seeding, the Lethbridge Hurricanes would have made the playoffs last season. However, they could manage no better than a fifth-place finish in a tough Central Division last year, despite a seventh-place finish in the Eastern Conference. With most of their key forwards returning, and a maturing defense corps, the ‘Canes will look to surge up the division standings and get themselves back in the post-season.
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rUp Front: The Hurricanes had a potent and exciting offense last season. Fortunately, they return most of their key offensive players who helped the team score 254 goals last year. Zach Boychuk finished tied for second in WHL scoring last season despite only being a 17-year-old. This season, his NHL draft year, Boychuk should easily challenge for a WHL scoring title. Mitch Fadden, a 36-goal man last season, will again partner up with Boychuk to form one of the WHL's most dangerous duos. Also returning are Dwight King, Yashar Farmanara and Carter Bancks, who all can put up solid offensive numbers. Rookie Carter Ashton was dominant at the Midget AAA level as a 15-year-old last season. He could step in and make an immediate impact up front. With an explosive, speedy group of forwards, the Hurrianes should be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Hurricanes struggled defensively last season, giving up the third-most goals in the League. With five defensemen from last year's squad returning, and a few new faces on the blue line, the Canes should be able to improve in their own zone. Ben Wright, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, was very solid for the ‘Canes, both offensively and defensively. He'll be relied upon heavily to provide strong stability and leadership this season. Jesse Craig possesses a big shot from the point, and should be valuable on the power play. Other returnees like Mitch Versteeg, Travis Bobbee and Ryan Kerr will need to step up and take on more responsibility if the ‘Canes are to solve the defensive woes that plagued them last season.
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rGoaltending: Goaltending was an issue for the Hurricanes last season, with both Michael Maniago and Justin Leclerc struggling with consistency. With Leclerc gone, Maniago will likely see the majority of the workload. Finnish rookie Juha Metsola will push Maniago as his back-up.
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rMedicine Hat Tigers
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r2008 pre-season: 3-1-0-0
rGeneral Manager: Will Desjardins
rHead Coach: Will Desjardins
r2006-07 Record: 52-17-3-0, 107 pts (1st in Central Div., 1st in Conf.) GF: 264 GA: 175
r2007 Playoffs: Defeated Vancouver in seven games to win WHL Championship.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Kris Russell 59gp-32g-37a-69pts
r Darren Helm 59gp-25g-39a-64pts
r Derek Dorsett 61gp-19g-45a-64pts
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rThe Tigers won the 2007 WHL Championship and made it to the Championship game of the 2007 MasterCard Memorial Cup with a talented, veteran-laden team. This season, with many of their veterans moving on, the Tigers will sport a much different, younger roster. However, with a few key returnees and some talented rookies, the Tigers are ready for a run at their 5th consecutive Central Division title.
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rUp Front: The Tigers lose their top five scorers from last season, which will be difficult to replace. However, they still return several key members of last year's team who are fully capable of stepping into top-line roles. Tyler Ennis and Brennan Bosch both topped the 20-goal mark last season. This season, they will carry a large portion of the offensive load. The speedster Ennis has potential to be one of the League's top scorers. 20-year-old Daine Todd, who missed almost the entire regular season last year, could also be a top scorer in the League. Also returning are Kevin Undershute and Colton Grant, who will be counted on to take on more responsibilities. The addition of Thomas Frazee adds more skill to the front lines. Young rookie Linden Vey was a scoring machine as a 15-year-old in Midget AAA, and could become an important piece of the Tigers' offense.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Tigers lose the core of their defense from last season's Championship team. Gone is two-time WHL Defenseman of the Year Kris Russell along with Gord Baldwin, David Schlemko and Michael Sauer. Replacing the offense that Russell and Schlemko provided will be a challenge. Returnee Jordan Bendfeld, who scored nine goals last season, and newcomer Zach Sim both have the ability to create scoring from the blue line, while rookie Cody Carlson put up huge numbers in Midget AAA. The Tigers also return rearguards Trevor Glass, Mark Isherwood and Shayne Brown, who will be expected to take on more responsibility.
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rGoaltending: The graduation of WHL All-Star goaltender Matt Keetley leaves the door open for a new number one netminder in the Tigers' cage. Sophomore Ryan Holfeld saw 16 games of action for the team last year, and had the benefit of watching and learning from Keetley. The Tigers also brought in Czech netminder Tomas Vosvrda, who will push Holfeld for playing time.
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rRed Deer Rebels
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r2008 pre-season: 3-3-0-0
rV.P. of Hockey Operations: Randy Peterson
rHead Coach: Brian Sutter
r2006-07 Record: 35-28-4-5, 79 pts (4th in Central Div., 6th in Conf.)
r2007 Playoffs: Lost in seven games to Medicine Hat in first round.
r2006-07 Top Scorers:
r Martin Hanzal 60gp-26g-59a-85pts
r Kirill Starkov 72gp-34g-37a-71pts
r Brett Sutter 67gp-28g-29a-57pts
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rThe Red Deer Rebels have undergone some significant changes, both on the ice and behind the bench, and will be a different-looking outfit for the 2007-08 campaign. With the departure of Brent Sutter to the NHL coaching ranks, brother Brian Sutter will take the reigns of a young, but talented squad that will do battle in what will be a tough Central Division.
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rUp Front: The departure of Martin Hanzal, Kirill Starkov and Dustin Moore leaves a large hole in the Rebels' offense. Yet, with the return of Brandon Sutter, and possibly cousin Brett Sutter, Brennan Wray, and the off-season acquisition of super-pest and 30-goal scorer J.D. Watt, the Rebels still possess some veteran scoring and leadership. Judging by his superb play for Canada at the Canada - Russia Super Series, Brandon Sutter will be a force to be reckoned with this season. The Rebels also boast some talented rookies who will get the chance to contribute. Landon Ferraro, the son of ex-NHLer Ray Ferraro, has great offensive instincts and has impressed during the pre-season. More will also be needed from returnee Scott Doucet.
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rOn The Blue Line: The Rebels return just three WHL-experienced defensemen. Veteran Luke Egener will be counted on to anchor the Rebels' defense corps, while sophomore Cullen Morin is a likely candidate to quarterback the power play. Mike Scarborough, who got into only 19 games last season, will be given more responsibilities. Zak Stebner, the Rebels' second-round pick in 2005, showed solid two-way abilities at the Midget AAA level, and could step in and contribute to the Rebels' defense corps. With only one rearguard over the age of 18, the Rebels will field one of the youngest blue lines in the League.
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rGoaltending: Returnee James Reimer was one of the WHL's better netminders last season. The 19-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs prospect will need to be solid and consistent with a young blue line in front of him. Morgan Clark, who played 21 games as a rookie last season, returns as Reimer's back-up.
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r2007-08 COACHES & G.M PREDICTIONS
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rEASTERN CONFERENCE
r
r
r1). Calgary Hitmen
r2). Regina Pats
r3). Kootenay Ice
r4). Lethbridge Hurricanes
r5). Medicine Hat Tigers
r6). Swift Current Broncos
r7). Moose Jaw Warriors
r8). Saskatoon Blades
r9). Brandon Wheat Kings
r10). Prince Albert Raiders
r11). Red Deer Rebels
r12). Edmonton Oil Kings
r
 
 
 
Schedule & Results
Schedule & Results
Schedule & Results

Schedule & Results

September 20 / 2014

 
Red Deer
4
1
Calgary
Final
 
 
 
Kootenay
2
4
Edmonton
Final
 
 
 
Swift Current
5
2
Moose Jaw
Final
 
 
 
Brandon
6
1
Regina
Final
 
 
 
Prince Albert
3
1
Saskatoon
Final
 
 
 
Lethbridge
1
5
Medicine Hat
Final
 
 
 
Prince George
6
3
Portland
Final
 
 
 
Victoria
1
3
Vancouver
Final
 
 
 
Kamloops
1
6
Kelowna
Final
 
 
 
Everett
1
0
Seattle
Final
 
 
 
Spokane
4
2
Tri-City
Final
 
 
 

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