Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Western HOckey League Conference Finals Schedule & Preview

The top 4 seeds in the Western Hockey League playoffs are going to fight it out for the WHL Championship and the Memorial Cup as the 4 division Champions are the only left standings. The Calgary Hitmen (Central Division), The Brandon Wheat Kings (East Division), Vancouver Giants (BC Division), and the Tri-City Americans (U.S.A. Division) all have quality teams that have the ability to win the championship.

However, will the amount of talent and long series take a toll on the WHL Champion's ability to compete for the Memorial Cup next month in Brandon, Manitoba.

Note: If the Brandon Wheat Kings advance to the WHL Championship Series, the Western Conference Champions will automatically advance to the Memorial Cup due to the Wheat Kings hosting the tournament.

The Brandon Wheat Kings have one thing on their mind, REVENGE! After falling in a series sweep in last year's Eastern Conference Final, the Wheat Kings will have a bounty on the Hitmen as they look to knockout the Hitmen with players like Matt Calvert and Scott Glennie among a huge cast that has the speed, scoring ability and the size that can eventually ware down the Hitmen.

Brandon's scoring ability is massive, after a regular season where 8 players scored 20 or more goals. The Wheat Kings have been able to continue to spread the scoring threats as Brayden Schenn with 15 points (7G 8A), also Brent Raedeke, Matt Calvert, and Aaron Lewadniuk who has 5 or more goals so far in the playoffs. In Net, both Jacob De Serres is an impressive 7-1 in the playoffs with a 2.79 GAA in the playoffs as he looks to improve as the games start to get bigger and bigger as the road to the Memorial Cup continues.

Calgary will respond with players like Brandon Kozoun who's leading the league in assists with 13. If the Hitmen are going to need improve their special teams as the Wheat Kings have been very strong on the special teams and have the among the best in the entire major junior playoffs.

Can the Hitmen pull off another big series win over the Wheat Kings or will the Wheat Kings get their revenge.

The Western Conference will have the Tri-City Americans breathing easier as the Americans have avoided a possible big time showdown against the US Division Rival Portland Winterhawks. Many thought that with the U.S. Division being the strongest in the league, that we would have an all US Matchup for the Western Conference Final between the Americans & Winterhawks.

Now it's the Vancouver Giants lead by leading scorers Craig Cunningham and Brendan Gallagher who among the scoring leaders with 19 & 18 points. Including Cunningham who leads all players with 19 points (11G 8A). You also have Lance Bouma who's among the top assists getter's with 11 in 10 games played. For the Giants concerns, it may be in net as Mark Segan hasn't found a way to up his game after his 2.66 GAA during the regular season with a 3.59 GAA so far in 10 playoff games in the post-season against the Chilliwack Bruins & the Portland Winterhawks so far in the post-season.

Tri-City will be looking to Dergei Drozd & Brooks Macek who's speed and overall game has taken them to the Conference Final. The Americans are starting to get better as the playoffs go on. Despite playing the 8th seeded Chilliwack Bruins and 6th seeded Kelowna Rockets, this team is playoff updates as the have had some very tough matchups. The Experience of the Kelowna Rockets with players like Mark Guggenberger who have been able to challenge the Americans championship hopes.

Perhaps the Americans secrets weapon is goaltender Drew Owsley has improved his game throughout his junior career since he started last year with the Americans. During the regular season, the Americans goalie has improved his GAA from 2.94 last year where he played just 17 games (Mostly late in the Season), to a great 2.23 this year in the playoffs. After a few struggles against Chilliwack, he's starting to get into his grove as he hasn't been able to give up more then 3 goals and had a shutout against Kelowna in Game 3 of the Conference Semifinals.

Here's a look WHL Conference Finals Schedules. The Winners will compete for the WHL Championship.

Eastern Conference Final

#1 Calgary Hitmen VS. #2 Brandon Wheat Kings

Calgary Hitmen Road to the Memorial Cup

Regular Season Record: 52-17-3 107 PTS, 269 GF 177 GA

East QFS VS. Moose Jaw: Game 1 2-4 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

East SFS 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 2-5 L, Game 6 3-2 OTW

Calgary Scoring Leaders
Brandon Kozun 13 GP 18 PTS (5G 13A, +3)
Tyler Shattock 13 GP 15 PTS (5G 10A, +7)
Joel Broda 13 GP 10 PTS (8G 2A, +2)

Calgary Goaltending
Martin Jones 13 GP 8-5 2.69 GAA .897 SV%

Brandon Wheat Kings Road to the Memorial Cup

Regular Season Record: 50-18-4 104 PTS, 321 GF 204 GA

East QFS VS. Swift Current: Game 1 5-2 W, Game 2 5-3 W, Game 3 5-2 W, Game 4 3-2 OTW

East SFS VS. Saskatoon: Game 1 6-2 W, Game 2 4-1 W, Game 3 4-5 L, Game 4 3-4 L, Game 5 3-2 W, Game 6 5-4 W

Brandon Scoring Leaders
Brayden Schenn 10 GP 15 PTS (7G 8A, +1)
Colby Robak 10 GP 12 PTS (3G 9A, +4)
Aaron Lewadniuk 10 GP 11 PTS (6G 5A, +3)

Brandon Goaltending
Jacob De Serres 8 GP 7-1 2.79 GAA .909 SV%
Andrew Hayes 2 GP 1-1 3.03 GAA .898 SV%

All Calgary Hitmen Home Games are @ Pengrowth Saddledome

All Brandon Wheat Kings Home Games are @ Westman Place

Game 1, 4/16: @ Calgary 8:00 PM

Game 2, 4/17: @ Calgary 8:00 PM

Game 3, 4/20: @ Brandon 7:00 PM

Game 4, 4/21: @ Brandon 7:00 PM

Game 5, 4/23: @ Calgary 8:00 PM*

Game 6, 4/25: @ Brandon 6:00 PM*

Game 7, 4/27: @ Calgary 8:00 PM*

*If Necessary

Western Conference Finals

#1 Tri-City Americans VS. #2 Vancouver Giants

Tri-City Americans Road to the Memorial Cup

Regular Season Record: 47-22-3 97 PTS, 272 GF 193 GA

West QFS 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

West SFS 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 W

Tri-City Scoring Leaders
Brendan Shinnimin 11 GP 13 PTS (6G 7A, +3)
Brooks Macek 11 GP 13 PTS (4G 9A, +12)
Sergei Drozd 11 GP 12 PTS (7G 5A, +10)

Tri-City Goaltending
Drew Owsley 11 GP 8-3 2.23 GAA .930 SV%
Alexander Pechurskiy 2 GP 0-0 2.93 GAA .920 SV%

Vancouver Giants Road to the Memorial Cup

Regular Season Record: 41-25-6 88 PTS, 267 GF 211 GA

West QFS VS. Kamloops: Game 1 4-3 OTW, Game 2 6-3 W, Game 3 5-4 OTW, Game 4 5-4 W

West SFS VS. Portland: Game 1 9-6 W, Game 2 7-4 W, Game 2 7-4 W, Game 3 2-3 L, Game 4 5-3 W, Game 5 4-5 L, Game 6 3-1 W

Vancouver Scoring Leaders
Craig Cunningham 10 GP 19 PTS (11G 8A, +10)
Brendan Gallagher 10 GP 18 PTS (9G 9A, +13)
Lance Bouma 10 GP 14 PTS (3G 11A, +6)

Vancouver Goaltending
Mark Segal 10 GP 8-2 3.59 GAA .891 SV%

All Tri-City Americans Home Games are @ Toyota Center

All Vancouver Giants Home Games are @ Pacific Coliseum

Game 1, 4/16: @ Tri-City 9:05 PM

Game 2, 4/17: @ Tri-City 9:35 PM

Game 3, 4/20: @ Vancouver 9:00 PM

Game 4, 4/22: @ Vancouver 9:00 PM

Game 5, 4/24: @ Tri-City 3:00 PM*

Game 6, 4/26: @ Vancouver 9:00 PM*

Game 7, 4/27: @ Tri-City 9:05 PM*

*If Necessary

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