Tomorrow night is game 6 of the CHL Conference Finals in Odessa as the Texas Brahmas are currently up 3-2 in the best of 7 series. During game 5, it was a wild night in North Richland Hills as the Brahmas F Scott Sheppard netted 4 goals and added 2 assists in a 7-5 win back on Saturday night, after the Jackalopes took a 2-1 lead, the Brahmas scored 5 straight goals to go up 6-2 and it looked like they were able to crusie their way to a 3-2 series lead and comming within 1 win of the Preisdents Cup Final.
Sheppard's 3rd goal of the night came just 36 seconds into the 3rd to make it a 6-2 and it looked like it would smooth saling for the Brahmas. In the 3rd period however, the Jackalopes scored 3 straight goals with Jeff Pierce making it 6-3 just over 3 minutes into the 3rd period. Then Dominic Leveille and Kenny Benard made it 6-5 with just 2 minutes left to make it 6-5. Just after Odessa made it 6-5, pulling goalie Jeremy Symington in an attempt to tie the game and force OT, however, the hope ended just before the final buzzer when Scott Sheppard scored his 4th of the night and won the game 7-5. Texas is looking strong and a win on Thrusday night would put them in the championship, if the Odessa Jackalopes win, game 7 if needed would be on April 25 in North Richland Hills.
Who ever advances to the Preisdents Cup Final will most likely face off against the Colorado Eagles who went up 3-0 in their series against the Mississippi Riverkings. Goals by Steve Haddon and Ed Mcgrane scored for the Eagles last night to win 2-1 to take a 3-0 lead. Mississippi is still kicking themselves after basically losing game 1 after leading 2-0 till with less then 5 minutes left in game 1 till the Eagles scored twice then won in OT to basically just crush the Riverkings and they haven't been able to recover from that night.
Stanley Cup Update
Vancouver became the 1st team to advance to the Conference Semifinals after sweeping the St. Louis Blues in 4 games straight. After having the game tied at 2-2 at the end of the 2nd period, no scoring in the 3rd which got us to OT where the Alexandre Burrows scored with 19 seconds left in the 1st OT to win the game and advance to the 2nd round playoffs. VAN advanced in the playoffs against a STL team that was lucky to make the playoffs whose injury situation and young roster, they had to fight tooth and nail to make the post season. VAN will now sit and wait who else wins and what the seeding sitaution will look like for the Conference Semifinals.
Else where out west, it's been a surprsing start to the SJ VS. ANA series as the road team has won all 3 of the games so far. First up in SJ, the Ducks won 2-0 and 3-2 in the 1st 2 games Jonas Hiller was great on the road with a 35 save shutout performance after being out shot 35-17 and then goals by Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Getzlaf in the 3rd put them over the top. Game 2 brought a much closer game as ANA Bobby Ryan and SJ Ryane Clowe helped made it 1-1 at the end of 2 then goals by Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller made it 3-1. Just seconds after the Ducks made it 3-1, Jonathan Cheechoo made it 3-2 but couldn't get an equaliser as Jonas Hiller had another great game as the Ducks have kept the pressure on the top seeded Sharks.
The Blue Jackets first venture into the playoffs looks like it will be a quick out as the Detroit Red Wings are up 3-0 with 2 4-1 wins and a 4-0 shutout. While the Chicago Blackhawks are currently up 2-1 over the Calgary Flames, one of the big stories here is Chicago's return to the playoffs which included winning game 1 just 12 seconds into OT with the goal from Martin Havlat to give them the win. For Calgary, their first win of the playoffs came at home with David Moss scoring twice in the 3rd period to give them a 4-2 win.
Boston looks strong towards a long playoff run after 2 4-2 wins and a 5-1 win and with Montreal undermanned. It's going to be tough for the Canadaiens to get this series back to Boston and the Bruins are looking towards the 2nd round where they will face off against the lowest seeded 1st round winner.
After a mostly rocky regular season, the Penguins are up 3-1 with superstar forwards Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the way as usual. Malkin right now is leading the playoffs with Malkin with 7 points so far, while Crosby has 6 points in the playoffs and are hoping to have another long run after making the Stanley Cup Final last season. For PHI, a 1st round loss would mark the end of a disaponting season after finishing 5th in a very tough atlantic Division and for most of the year as pontentail surprise team in the playoffs.
After losing the 1st 2 games, the Capitals had an impressive 4-0 shutout to get back in the series. Alexander Semin had a strong night with 2 goals, an assist and was named the top star of the game for bringing the Capitals back in the series as game 4 will take place tonight as the Capitals will look to tie the series at 2-2 when the series shifts back to Washington D.C. for game 5 on Friday night. As for NJ VS. CAR, that series has gone back and fourth as 3 of the 4 games been by 1 goal outcomes with the execption of game 1 where the Devils won game 1 4-1. This series will contuine tomorrow night in New Jersey. Brodeur has been very good since his return from injury that kept him out for nearly half of the regular season having a .929 SV% and a 2.19 GAA.
To find the games and their schedule, go to www.nhl.com to find out which games are going to what time and network.
We are getting down the league championships in different junior leagues across North America. In the Major Juniors. In the road to the Memorial Cup, we are down to the semifinals and a few teams are about to make their plans for the league championships as the 6 League Championships Spots are being fought over.
Road to the Memorial Cup
Western Hockey League
For the WHL, the Calgary Hitmen are showing that they could be the favorites to win the Memorial Cup as they haven't lost a single game yet in the playoffs. In the 1st 2 rounds, they knocked out the #8 seeded Edmonton Oil Kings, in the Conference Semifinals it was the #7 Lethbridge Hurricanes after knocking out the #2 seeded Saskatoon Blades and currently up 3-0 against the Brandon Wheat Kings. Having Saskatoon going out in the 1st round, they were lucky by avoding a team like the Medicine Hat Tigers or the Swift Current Bronocos that would have been given tougher matchups. For Brandon, after getting blown out 9-3 in the 1st game, they have responded well with 4-3 (OT) and 5-4 loses, but with no sucess. A Hitmen win and they would advance to the final, at this point Brandon is just hoping to not get sweeped right now.
Dallas Stars Prospect Jame Benn is having a great playoffs with 25 points (9G, 16A) but the Rockets are down 2-1 to the Vancouver Giants. After starting out with a 4-2 win, Vancouver has come back with the Western Conference Player of the Year Casey Pierro-Zabotel have been a big part of the Western Conference Final with 14 points and improving his defense to help the Giants take the series lead as game 4 will be in Kelowna on Thrusday night as the Rockets need a big win to at least have a relalistic shot of advacning to the Final.
Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario League is nearing it's final as the Brampton Battalion and Windsor Spitfires are both 3-1 in their series. For Windsor, the series has been a lot closer then it looks as all 4 games have gone to OT and the Spitfires have had the game winners by Andrei Loktionov won game 4 for the Spitfires. For the Brampton Battalion, they have been lead by Cody Hodgson with 22 points and will need to deal with the Windsor Spitfires as the top 4 scores as Taylor Hall (26 PTS), Dale Mitchell (25 PTS), Ryan Ellis (25 PTS), and Andrei Loktionov (23 PTS). If Windsor wins the OHL and gets to contend for the Memorial Cup, these 4 players will need to play a big role in leading them to the Championship.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
In Quebec, The Drummondville Voltigers are now just 1 win away from making the QMJHL Championship series after winning game 3 against the Memorial Cup Host Rimouski Oceanic 6-4 which included scoring in the final seconds of the 2nd and 3rd periods Gabriel Dumont in the game 3 victory in which the Oceanic have had no luck in this series as the Voltigers have won 8-1, 4-3, and 6-4 and one more win in Rimouski will put the Voltigers in the Final after having the league's worst record last season.
The Other semifinal has the Quebec City Ramparts against the Shawinigan Catarctes as the Catarctes are currently up 2-1 as Cedric Lalonde-Mcnicoll scored twice to give them the win and was named the top star of the game along with Alexander Pierre-Vandall with 2 assists and had a great defenseive game which included several big hits in the game. Next up for the Quebec City VS. Shawinigan is tonight as a Shawinigan win would put them in great position to put them in the final against their central division rivals.
The 3 Major Junior League Championships will be the at the end of April and the start of May. Then the Memorial Cup will start up on May 16 in Rimouski, Quebec.
Road to the RBC Cup
We are currently into the Regional Championships for the RBC Cup tournament right now.
In the Pacific Region, the Vernon Vipers are just one game away and have a shot of winning the Doyle Cup as they lead 3-0 against the Alberta Champion Grande Prairie Storm as 2 2-1 wins. However, the big story of the domination was the 6-2 win during game 2 back on Saturday when the Vipers scored 5 straight goals with the 6 goals comming from 6 different players. If the Vipers win tonight, they will win the Pacific Region Championship after Alberta teams have won the Pacific Region the last 2 years.
In the West Region, it's been a very close and tight series as the Portage Terriers took a 2-1 lead after an OT win with the game winner scored by Ryan Audino just 2:33 into the extra frame. Game 2 also wen to OT as the Humboldt Bronocos won 3-2 back during game 2. The series contuines tonight as game 4 from Humboldt, Saskatchewan as the Portage Terriers are looking to win both tonight and tomorrow night to take the West Championship. As for Humboldt, a win is needed to get the series tied at 2-2. Game 5 will be on April 23 while the series would return to Manitoba for games 6 and 7 on 4/25 and 26 if needed.
The Ontario Region started it's regional championship yestrday in Schreiber as the 3 game round robin started up with wins by the Ft. William North Stars and the Kingston Voyageurs won in shutouts. First the North Stars won in a grind it out 2-0 win over the Soo Thunderbirds as G Ryan Dube made 39 saves on 41 shots, but the offense couldn't get anything going. In the 2nd game of the day, it was the Kingston Voyageurs won 9-0 after a hot start with them going up 2-0 in the 1st 2 minutes and went on to a 9-0 win over the Schreiber Diesels as the big surprise where the Schreiber didn't pull their starting goalie Josh Baker at any point during the game
Today, it's the Ft. William North Stars and Kingston Voyageurs where the winner would take a huge step towards Saturday's Championship game. The other game is huge for another reason as the Soo Thunderbirds take on the host Schreiber Diesles as the loser would be on the verge of being elinmated from the Ontario Regional Championship. After the round robin, the 2nd and 3rd place teams would face each other in the semifinals, then in the final would be the #1 seed against the semifinal winner.
In the Atlantic Region taking place in New Brunswick, the Summerside Western Capitals VS. Pembrooke Lumber Kings will start up the final championship to determine the RBC Cup today as the Maratime League Champions will take on the Eastern Ontario Champions as the Capitals could be a very dangerous team to follow as a dangerous attack which just lost once in the MJAHL Playoffs while the other game today is between the Dieppe Gagon Commandos will take on the Quebec Champion Sherbrooke Cougars in the 2nd game. The format for the Atlantic Region is the same as the Ontario Region Championship.
Road to the Robertson and Clark Cup
North American Hockey League
In the NAHL, we are 2 games into the Division Finals as the St. Louis Bandits and the Wenatchee Wild are both up 2-0 and are just one win away from moving on to the Robertson. For the Bandits, they have won the last 2 years while the Wild are looking to become the 1st expansion team since 1984 to make the Robertson Cup.
For the Wenatchee Wild, Nic Dowd and Michael Voran are leading the playoffs in scoring with 12 and 13 points as they have become the surprise story of the playoffs and are just taking down the Fairbanks Ice Dogs who have been dominating the West Division the last few years.
For St. Louis, unlike the last 2 years, goaltending has been keeping this thing on track with a strong 1.11 GAA and a .953 SV% where a win on tommorrow night will get them back to the Championship Tournament.
In the North and Central Divisions, both of these series are tied at 1-1 as the Mahoning Valley Phantoms have been the league runner ups the last 2 years and are very hungry to return to win the Championship. For Mahoning Valley, Johnny Meo has been the leading score with 8 points while.
For the USNTDP, Emerson Etem has 7 points and leading the team in the playoffs.
In the Central, the league's other expansion team, the Owatonna Express they hoping to spoil Bismarcks hopes after winning a team record 43 games.
Owatonna hopes are riding on Stephen Carew who has 6 points but only has 2 goals, no one on the Express has more then 3 goals in the playoffs and someone will need to take charge if the Express are going to have a shot of winning the series and the division. For the Bobcats, it's been scoring by committee as 5 players each have 4 points.
If Bismarck is going to have a chance to win to make and win the Robertson Cup, someone on offense needs to step up and take charge. This will be critcal as games 3 and 4 will be in Owatonna on Friday and Saturday, if a game 5 is needed, it will be on April 26 in Bismarck.
United States Hockey League
The United States Hockey League will start up the Division Finals tonight as the West Division Final between the Fargo Force and the Lincoln Stars. For Lincoln, they took down the Sioux Falls Stampade in 4 games as they controled the series with the execption of game 3 where it went to OT. Fargo is another expansion team in the USA juniors that's doing well as they took down the defending Clark Cup Champion Omaha Lancers in 3 straight.
The Force made themselves for real after a strong 6-2 win in game 1, in game 2 came back from 1-0 and 2-1 decefeits to make it 2-2 at the 2nd intermission. Then in the 3rd, goals by Colten St. Clair and Matt Leitner to make it 4-2. For the Force, they took down the Lancers in OT with Andy Taranto scoring the game winner just under 5 minutes into OT to knock out the Lancers.
Out East, it's the top seeded Green Bay Gamblers against the Indiana Ice. For Green Bay, it's was a 3 game sweep against the Waterloo Blackhawks after 16 goals including a commanding 8-2 win in game 3. For the Ice, they took down the Roughriders in 5 games which the Ice needed to comeback after being 2-1 to win games 4 and 5 where the Ice won game 4 5-1 and then a wild 7-6 win to comeback to win the Division Semifinal.
News and Notes
Garland Native and Bismarck Bobcats F John Wickman was the co-recipents of the NAHL Academic award which honors execllent use of both time in the classroom and on the ice. For Wickman, he has taken 16 college credit hours and maintaing a 4.0 which has him near the top of the class at the college he attends which they don't give out. He has also taken part in the Winston National Science Fair and earned a 32 on the ACT he took a few years back.
Here's the story on the award: www.nahl.com/news/story.cfm?id=976
They City of Allen, Texas is going to be the 7th team in the Lone Star State to play in the Central Hockey League. It was confirmed back on April 15 and will be playing at the Allen Events Center which is currently being constructed right now and should be finished by late summer. The team name, coaching staff should be announced soon.
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