Just like the Ontario Hockey League Championship Series, the Western Hockey League will have both of the Top Seeded Teams from both the Eastern & Western Conference. Calgary is back in the Eastern Conference Championship for the 2nd straight year as the Hitmen is looking to make up for losing last year's WHL Championship to the Kelowna Rockets.
Leading the way for Calgary has Brandon Kozun who's leading the entire playoffs with 26 PTS (7G 19A) while Joel Broda is among the playoff leaders in goals with 12 as he will need to be a big part of a team that's generally very fast but do they have enough finishers. Cody Sylvester is doing a great job towards increasing his scoring ability.
During his 2 seasons with the Hitmen, he has only 15 goals combined during the regular season. So far in the playoffs, he has 9 goals thanks to a huge series against Moose Jaw where he had to help the Hitmen who to comeback after having a bad start to the series against the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Opening Round of the playoffs.
In goal for the Hitmen is Martin Jones who's a strong 12-6 in this year's playoffs. If he can have a strong Championship that can get his team to the Memorial Cup in Brandon, it could make things interesting with the LA Kings who currently hold his rights and would at least be with the LA Kings AHL Affiliate Manchester Monarchs.
Tri-City is looking to pull off the upset of sorts as the Americans won the Division and have had interesting playoff run. The Conference Quarterfinals saw a tough Chilliwack Team took them to 6 games, another tough series against defending league champion Kelowna Rockets. Despite the Americans won in 5 Games, every game was decided by 2 or fewer goals in every game and the Rockets goalie Mark Guggenberger made things tough at times. Recently against the B.C. Division Champion Vancouver Giants had them down 1-0 & 2-1 before the Americans won 3 straight to win the Series in 6 games.
For the Americans to have a shot on offense, the Americans will need the efforts as no one has double digit goals and the team has some great setup men like Justin Feser & Adam Hughesman who are among the assists leaders. But they will need these players to join in the attack with players like Brendan Shinnimin, Kruise Reddick and Sergei Drozd. These are the Centerman that are looking to be the physical bunch that can also push around the smaller Hitmen Forwards.
If the Americans goaltending starter as Drew Owsley as he has a 12-3 record with a strong looking 2.14 GAA. This could be the Americans biggest strength and could have what it takes to help fight off Hitmen superstar Brandon Kozoun.
Expect a great battle for the WHL Championship. However, the big issue is that the playoff series have been the longest of the 3 major Junior Leagues who are looking to win the Memorial Cup. Could fatigue be a factor for Brandon & the WHL Champion as the OHL & QMJHL Champions could be fresher and be able to get that final push to win the 2010 Memorial Cup Championship which will begin on May 14 in Brandon, Manitoba.
#1E Calgary Hitmen VS. #1W Tri-City Americans
Calgary Hitmen Road to the Memorial Cup
Regular Season Record: 52-17-3 107 PTS, 269 GF 177 GA, Finished 1st Overall
CONF. Quarterfinals VS. Moose Jaw: Game 1 3-4 L, Game 2 1-4 L, Game 3 7-3 W, Game 4 3-4 L, Game 5 5-2 W, Game 6 7-3 W, Game 7 6-2 W
CONF. Semifinals VS. Medicine Hat: Game 1 5-2 W, Game 2 4-0 W, Game 3 3-4 OTL, Game 4 4-1 W, Game 5 4-5 L, Game 6 3-2 OTW
CONF. Finals VS. Brandon: Game 1 2-4 L, Game 2 3-2 OTW, Game 3 6-3 W, Game 4 4-3 W, Game 5 6-1 W
Calgary Hitmen Scoring Leaders
Brandon Kozun 18 GP 26 PTS (7G 19A, +6)
Joel Broda 18 GP 16 PTS (12G 4A, +3)
Tyler Shattock 16 GP 15 PTS (5G 10A, +3)
Calgary Hitmen Goaltending
18 GP 12-6 2.61 GAA .905 SV%
Full Calgary Hitmen Stats: http://whl.ca/stats/statdisplay.php?type=skaters&subType=1&season_id=235&leagueId=26&lastActive=&singleSeason=&confId=0
Tri-City Americans Road to the Memorial Cup
Regular Season Record: 47-22-3 97 PTS, 272 GF 193 GA, Finished 1st in the West
CONF. Quarterfinals VS. Chilliwack: Game 1 4-2 W, Game 2 8-1 W, Game 3 1-5 L, Game 4 4-3 OTW, Game 5 3-4 OTL, Game 6 4-1 W
CONF. Semifinals VS. Kelowna: Game 1 5-3 W, Game 2 2-3 L, Game 3 2-0 W, Game 4 3-2 W, Game 5 4-3 OTW
CONF. Finals VS. Vancouver: Game 1 2-4 L, Game 2 4-0 W, Game 3 2-3 OTL, Game 4 5-2 W, Game 5 4-1 W, Game 6 5-2 W
Tri-City Americans Scoring Leaders
Brendan Shinnimin 17 GP 22 PTS (8G 14A, +5)
Kruise Reddick 17 GP 21 PTS (9G 12A, +12)
Brooks Macek 17 GP 17 PTS (6G 11A, +13)
Tri-City Americans Goaltending
Drew Owsley 17 GP 12-5 2.14 GAA .931SV%
Alexander Pechurskiy 2 GP 0-0 2.93 GAA .920 SV%
Full Tri-City Americans Stats: http://whl.ca/stats/statdisplay.php?type=skaters&subType=14&season_id=235&leagueId=26&lastActive=&singleSeason=&confId=0
All Calgary Hitmen Home Games are @ Pengrowth Saddledome
All Tri-City Americans Home Games are @ Toyota Center
Game 1, 4/30: @ Calgary 8:00 PM
Game 2, 5/1: @ Calgary 9:00 PM
Game 3, 5/4: @ Tri-City 9:05 PM
Game 4, 5/5: @ Tri-City 9:05 PM
Game 5, 5/7: @ Calgary 8:00 PM*
Game 6, 5/9: @ Tri-City 7:05 PM*
Game 7, 5/10: @ Calgary 8:00 PM*
To follow the WHL Championship Series, log on to the following Websites.
Western Hockey League: www.whl.ca
Calgary Hitmen: www.hitmenhockey.com/index.asp
Tri-City Americans: www.amshockey.com
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