2013 WHL PLAYOFFS: SECOND ROUND PREVIEW
 

CALGARY, AB – The 2013 WHL Playoffs continue as the quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a spot in the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament in Saskatoon, SK, has narrowed to eight teams as the second round of the playoffs begin on Thursday, April 4th.

In the Husky WHL Eastern Conference, the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings ousted the Kootenay Ice in five games in the first round.  Now, they face a new challenge in a Medicine Hat Tigers team that swept aside the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup host Saskatoon Blades in the conference quarter final.

The Calgary Hitmen outgunned the Swift Current Broncos in five games to advance to the second round of the WHL playoffs for the first time since 2010.  Now, they go up against longtime rivals the Red Deer Rebels, who are fresh off a series sweep of the Prince Albert Raiders.

In the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference, the Portland Winterhawks knocked off the plucky Everett Silvertips in six games in the opening round to advance to the second round of the WHL playoffs for a fourth straight year.  Now, they’ll face U.S. Division rival the Spokane Chiefs, who defeated the Tri-City Americans in five games in the first round.

The Kelowna Rockets advanced to the second round of the 2013 WHL Playoffs having accomplished the rare feat of overturning an 0-3 deficit to defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds in a hard-fought seven-game series in the opening round.  They’ll take on the Kamloops Blazers, who ousted the Victoria Royals in six games in the first round, for a B.C. Division battle in round two.

Here's a look at the second-round Husky WHL Eastern Conference and Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Semi-Final match-ups: 


HUSKY WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) EDMONTON OIL KINGS vs (7) MEDICINCE HAT TIGERS

2012-13 regular-season record: (W-L-OTL-SOL, PTS)
Edmonton:        51-15-2-4, 108pts
Medicine Hat:    36-33-2-1, 75pts

2012-13 head-to-head record:
Edmonton:        5-1-0-0, 10pts
Medicine Hat:    1-4-1-0, 3pts

2012-13 head-to-head top scorers:
Edmonton:           
Curtis Lazar                   6gp-6g-1a-7pts
Henrik Samuelsson        6gp-3g-3a-6pts

Medicine Hat:       
Trevor Cox                    6gp-2g-2a-4pts
Elgin Pearce                 7gp-2g-2a-4pts

The Edmonton Oil Kings meet the Medicine Hat Tigers for their first ever playoff series.

The Oil Kings advanced to the second round of the playoffs after knocking out the Kootenay Ice four games to one in the opening round, and have now won five straight playoff series’, dating back to last season.  Aside from their Game 2 overtime loss, the Oil Kings dominated the Ice in the first round, outscoring them 25-4 over five games.  Boasting four players averaging at least a point per game in the first round, the Oil Kings also got scoring from depth players like rookies Cole Bendon, Luke Bertolucci and Edgars Kulda to help them along.  They will need depth scoring if they are to break down a Tigers’ team that didn’t give up a lot in the opening round.  Defensively, the Oil Kings gave up just four goals in five games versus Kootenay while killing off all 21 Ice power plays in the series.  Having neutralized Kootenay’s offensive stars, the Oil Kings will need to do the same versus Tigers’ stars like Hunter Shinkaruk and Curtis Valk.  Laurent Brossoit boasted a perfect 4-0 record in four starts versus Medicine Hat this season, posting a 1.00 goals-against average and a .964 save percentage in the process.

The Tigers advanced to the second round of the WHL playoffs for a fifth straight season, eliminating the No. 2 seeded Saskatoon Blades in four straight games in the first round of the playoffs for a second straight season.  Though they may be the seventh-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, the Tigers played like contenders versus the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup host Blades, outscoring them 15-4 in four games and never trailing through 12 periods of hockey.  Offensively, the Tigers took advantage of their scoring chances, with stars Hunter Shinkaruk and Curtis Valk leading the way with four points apiece.  However, it was the Tigers’ depth that shone through in the first round as all but two skaters registered at least one point versus the Blades.  They will need secondary scoring to get past an Edmonton team that boasts the best team defense in the WHL.  Defensively, the Tigers defended as a five-man unit to neutralize Saskatoon’s array of offensive weapons.  Having found a new level of commitment to defense, the Tigers gave up just four goals in four first-round games.  They will have to be equally vigilant versus a deep Oil Kings’ attack.  Cam Lanigan took his game to a new level versus the Blades, boasting an impressive 1.00 goals-against average and a stellar .976 save percentage.  Now, he’ll go up against the team he started his WHL career with.  Lanigan was in goal for the Tigers’ lone regular-season victory over Edmonton.

Series Schedule(All Start Times Local)

#1 – Medicine Hat @ Edmonton; Friday, April 5 (7:00pm)
#2 – Medicine Hat @ Edmonton; Sunday, April 7 (4:00pm)
#3 – Edmonton @ Medicine Hat; Tuesday, April 9 (7:00pm)
#4 – Edmonton @ Medicine Hat; Wednesday, April 10 (7:00pm)
#5 – Medicine Hat @ Edmonton; Friday, April 12 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Edmonton @ Medicine Hat; Sunday, April 14 (6:00pm)**
#7 – Medicine Hat @ Edmonton; Wednesday, April 17 (7:00pm)**
**If Necessary

 

(3) CALGARY HITMEN vs (4) RED DEER REBELS

2012-13 regular-season record:
Calgary:            46-21-1-4, 97pts
Red Deer:         39-26-5-2, 85pts

2012-13 head-to-head record:
Calgary:            4-0-1-1, 10pts
Red Deer:         2-3-1-0, 5pts

2012-13 head-to-head top scorers:
Calgary:
Cody Sylvester:                        6gp-7g-2a-9pts
Brooks Macek:              6gp-3g-3a-6pts

Red Deer:
Turner Elson:                 5gp-3g-2a-5pts
Matt Dumba:                 5gp-1g-4a-5pts 

The Calgary Hitmen meet the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.  Dion Phaneuf and the Rebels defeated Ryan Getzlaf and the Hitmen four games to three in a hard-fought first-round matchup in the 2004 WHL playoffs.

The Hitmen advanced to the second round of the 2013 WHL playoffs after defeating the Swift Current Broncos in five games in the first round.  Having already dispatched a very difficult opponent in the Broncos, the Hitmen ready for an even tougher test versus the tight-checking, defensively strong Rebels club.  Cody Sylvester, Victor Rask and Brady Brassart carried the offense in the opening round, each netting three goals versus the Broncos.  Now, they will have to solve the Eastern Conference’s top netminder in Patrik Bartosak.  Sylvester had success versus the Rebels this season, scoring seven goals in six games.  Defensively, the Hitmen improved as their first-round series versus the Broncos went on.  Alex Roach and the Hitmen defence corps will have to pay close attention to Turner Elson, Rhyse Dieno, and the red-hot Brooks Maxwell.  Goaltender Chris Driedger was strong when called upon in the opening round, allowing just two goals over the final two games of the series.  He posted three wins and a .919 save percentage in five appearances versus the Rebels during the regular season.

The Rebels pushed through to the second round of the playoffs having swept aside the Prince Albert Raiders in four games in the opening round.  Now, they face a Calgary team that has taken nine of 12 head-to-head meetings over the past two seasons.  Red Deer got plenty of mileage out of its top offensive players in the opening round, with Turner Elson, Rhyse Dieno and Brooks Maxwell combining for eight of the team’s 12 goals in the series versus the Raiders.  They will need contributions from other sources like Jordan DePape and Tyson Ness if they are to match Calgary’s offensive depth.  Defensively, the Rebels gave up just five goals in four games and killed off 18 of 19 Raiders’ power play chances in the series.  Matt Dumba and Co. successfully neutralized a pretty deep offense in Prince Albert.  Now, their focus is on stopping an even deeper Calgary offense, paying particular attention to veteran Cody Sylvester, who has been playing some of his best hockey over the past month.  Patrik Bartosak continues to be the Rebels’ best player, having stopped 125 of 130 shots in the opening round.  Bartosak didn’t enjoy a lot of success versus Calgary this season, posting a 1-1-1 record with a 3.23 GAA in three appearances.

Series Schedule

#1 – Red Deer @ Calgary; Thursday, April 4 (7:00pm)
#2 – Red Deer @ Calgary; Friday, April 5 (7:30pm)
#3 – Calgary @ Red Deer; Monday, April 8 (7:00pm)
#4 – Calgary @ Red Deer; Tuesday, April 9 (7:00pm)
#5 – Red Deer @ Calgary, Thursday, April 11 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Calgary @ Red Deer; Saturday, April 13 (7:30pm)**
#7 – Red Deer @ Calgary; Tuesday, April 16 (7:00pm)**

 

KAL TIRE WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS vs (4) SPOKANE CHIEFS

2012-13 regular-season record:
Portland:           57-12-1-2, 117pts
Spokane:          44-26-2-0, 90pts

2012-13 head-to-head record: 
Portland:           7-1-0-1, 15pts
Spokane:          2-7-0-0, 4pts

2012-13 head-to-head top scorers:
Portland:
Oliver Bjorkstrand          8gp-8g-5a-13pts
Chase De Leo               9gp-3g-10a-13pts

Spokane:
Mitch Holmberg             8gp-1g-9a-10pts
Todd Fiddler                 9gp-5g-3a-8pts

The Portland Winterhawks meet the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL playoffs for a second time in the last three seasons.  Nino Niederreiter and the Winterhawks knocked off Tyler Johnson and the Chiefs four games to two in the 2011 Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship series.

The Winterhawks made their way to the second round of the playoffs by defeating the Everett Silvertips in six games in the opening round, and are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the second round of the WHL playoffs.  The Hawks were tested by Everett perhaps more than they anticipated, but came through largely due to their power play, which went 13-for-33 through the six-game series.  Portland’s big guns Brendan Leipsic, Ty Rattie and Nic Petan continued to produce in the first round, netting a combined 13 goals and 30 points in the six games, while the return of offensive blue liner Derrick Pouliot helped spark the power play success.  Defensively, the Hawks allowed 16 goals over six games, relying on their potent offense to outscore the Silvertips.  They will have their hands full versus a Spokane team that boasts good offensive depth and skill.  Mac Carruth didn’t face nearly as much work as Everett’s Austin Lotz did in the opening round, and will surely face a tougher test versus a Chiefs’ team that boasted the WHL’s fifth-best offense during the regular season.  Carruth appeared in eight regular-season meetings versus Spokane, posting a 7-1-1 record with a 2.11 GAA and a .937 save percentage in that span.

The Chiefs are making their third straight appearance in the second round of the WHL playoffs, having defeated U.S. Division archrival Tri-Cities in five games in the first round, and are going up against Portland in the post-season for the third time in four years.  A trade deadline pickup from the Brandon Wheat Kings in January, Alessio Bertaggia proved his worth with a terrific first-round performance versus Tri-Cities, pacing the Chiefs’ attack with eight points.  Yet, the Chiefs boasted five other players who averaged a point per game or more in the opening round, indicating strong offensive depth.  They will need strong secondary scoring versus a Winterhawks team that doesn’t give up a whole lot.  Defensively, the Chiefs were able to neutralize Tri-City’s top offensive players like Justin Feser and Malte Stromwall in the opening round.  Now, they must find a way to slow down a Winterhawks Club that has the deepest offense in the WHL.  While the Chiefs managed to hold the Hawks’ top line relatively in check during the regular season, it was Portland’s second unit that did most of the scoring damage and allowed the Hawks to win seven of nine meetings.  Chiefs’ netminder Eric Williams stood tall in the first round versus Tri-Cities, posting a .911 save percentage through five games.  He will need to be ready to face plenty of rubber versus the high-flying Hawks.

Series Schedule

#1 – Spokane @ Portland; Friday, April 5 (7:00pm) Memorial Coliseum
#2 – Spokane @ Portland; Saturday, April 6 (7:00pm) Rose Garden
#3 – Portland @ Spokane; Tuesday, April 9 (7:05pm)
#4 – Portland @ Spokane; Wednesday, April 10 (7:05pm)
#5 – Spokane @ Portland; Saturday, April 13 (7:00pm)** Rose Garden
#6 – Portland @ Spokane; Monday, April 15 (7:05pm)**
#7 – Spokane @ Portland; Wednesday, April 17 (7:00pm)** Memorial Coliseum

 

(2) KELOWNA ROCKETS vs (3) KAMLOOPS BLAZERS

2012-13 regular-season record:
Kelowna:           52-16-3-1, 108pts
Kamloops:        47-20-2-3, 99pts 

2012-13 head-to-head record: 
Kelowna:                       4-4-2-0, 10pts
Kamloops:                    6-4-0-0, 12pts

2012-13 head-to-head top scorers:
Kelowna:
Zach Franko                  10gp-3g-9a-12pts
Myles Bell                     10gp-6g-4a-10pts

Kamloops:
Brendan Ranford           10gp-6g-7a-13pts
JC Lipon                       9gp-5g-8a-13pts

The Kelowna Rockets take on the Kamloops Blazers for a playoff series for the first time since the 2008-09 season.  Jamie Benn and the Rockets swept CJ Stretch and the Blazers four games to none in the first round of the 2009 WHL playoffs en route to the 2009 WHL Championship.

The Rockets are in the second round of the playoffs having pulled off an historic comeback from an 0-3 deficit to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds 4-3 in a hard-fought seven-game series in the opening round.  Left reeling from three straight overtime losses to start the series, Kelowna showed great resiliency in rallying back to win, becoming just the second team in WHL history to bounce back from such a deficit.  Kelowna’s offense was firing on all cylinders in the opening round, though they ran into a hot goaltender in Brandon Glover.  Sophomore Tyson Baillie took his game to a new level in the first round, leading the Rockets in scoring while playing hero with a hat trick, including the overtime winner, in their series-clinching Game 7 win over Seattle. Veterans Myles Bell and Zach Franko, and defenceman Damon Severson also chipped in plenty of scoring.  More will be needed from the likes of Dylen McKinlay and Ryan Olsen for the Rockets to have a better chance in the series versus the Blazers.  Defensively, the Rockets’ blue line has been thinned out due to injuries, which won’t help them versus the Blazers’ potent offense.  Kelowna hopes its penalty killing unit remains as strong as it was in the opening round versus Seattle.  Goaltender Jordon Cooke came up big for the Rockets when it mattered in the opening round, but will have to be even sharper versus the Blazers.  He appeared in nine of 10 regular-season meetings versus Kamloops, posting a 3-4-2 record with a .907 save percentage.

The Blazers advanced to the second round of the playoffs for a second straight year after eliminating the Victoria Royals in six games in the opening round.  The Blazers’ offense put up an average of almost four goals per game versus the Royals in the opening round while their power play connected at a 25.8% clip.  While the usual suspects of JC Lipon, Colin Smith and Brendan Ranford chipped in consistent offense in the opening round, it was Kale Kessy’s seven goals versus Victoria that really pushed the Blazers over the top.  Kessy, a big, physical forward, will need to continue his strong offensive play versus a Rockets’ team that is currently depleted on the back end.  The Blazers’ defense was tested versus a strong Victoria attack, but they managed to outscore the Royals in the end.  It will be up to Joel Edmundson and Tyler Hansen to slow down Rockets’ snipers like Myles Bell, who scored six times in 10 games versus Kamloops during the regular season.  Cole Cheveldave performed well enough to get past the Royals, but will need to improve on his .880 save percentage for the Blazers to have a better chance at defeating the Rockets.  Cheveldave appeared in nine games versus Kelowna this season, winning four times while maintaining a 2.98 GAA and a .898 save percentage.

Series Schedule

#1 – Kamloops @ Kelowna; Saturday, April 6 (7:05pm)
#2 – Kamloops @ Kelowna; Sunday, April 7 (5:05pm)
#3 – Kelowna @ Kamloops; Tuesday, April 9 (7:00pm)
#4 – Kelowna @ Kamloops; Wednesday, April 10 (7:00pm)
#5 – Kamloops @ Kelowna; Friday, April 12 (7:05pm)**
#6 – Kelowna @ Kamloops; Sunday, April 14 (6:00pm)**
#7 – Kamloops @ Kelowna; Tuesday, April 16 (7:05pm)**

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Schedule & Results
Schedule & Results
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