by Kevin Parnell
March 21, 2014, Calgary (ISN) – The Western Hockey League launched the 2014 Playoffs with a press conference in Kelowna, B.C., on Thursday, March 20th.
16 WHL Clubs have advanced to the post-season, and will begin the quest to hoist the Ed Chynoweth Cup, and earn a berth in the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament in London, ON.
The 2014 WHL Playoffs begin on Thursday night as the Calgary Hitmen host the Kootenay Ice, with the remainder of the playoff series’ starting on Friday and Saturday.
The 2013-14 WHL regular season boasts many highlights, including the hosting of a series of CHL events such as the SUBWAY® Super Series held in Red Deer, AB and Lethbridge, AB, in November, and the BMO CHL / NHL Top Prospects game in Calgary, AB, in January. Other notable highlights from the 2013-14 WHL regular season include the Kelowna Rockets capturing the Scotty Munro Memorial trophy as the WHL’s top Club during the regular season with 118 points while tying a WHL record with 29 road victories, the Portland Winterhawks putting together a remarkable 21-game winning streak, Vancouver Giants’ head coach Don Hay becoming just the third coach in WHL history to reach the 600-win plateau, and Spokane Chiefs’ forward Mitch Holmberg winning the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL’s top scorer while also becoming just the second player in 13 years to score 60 goals.
“The WHL regular season once again featured many outstanding team and individual accomplishments,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Given how competitive the regular season was, we are looking forward to many great series throughout all four rounds of the WHL Playoffs.”
The WHL’s Eastern and Western Conferences will use a Conference playoff format for the 2014 WHL Playoffs. The first-place Clubs in the two Divisions, in each Conference, will receive the top two playoff seeds based on regular season points. The next six Clubs in each Conference, based on regular season points, will receive the 3rd – 8th playoff positions. The Clubs will be paired 1 – 8, 2 – 7, 3 – 6, and 4 – 5 in a best-of-seven series. The first place Clubs in each Division will only be guaranteed the top two playoff seeds in the first round.
In the Eastern Conference, the Edmonton Oil Kings (1) facing the Prince Albert Raiders (8), the East Division champion Regina Pats (2) take on the Brandon Wheat Kings (7), the Calgary Hitmen (3) battle the Kootenay Ice (6), and the Medicine Hat Tigers (4) faceoff against the Swift Current Broncos (5). In the Western Conference, the WHL regular-season champion Kelowna Rockets (1) take on the Tri City Americans (8), the U.S. Division champion Portland Winterhawks (2) face off against the Vancouver Giants (7), the Victoria Royals (3) go up against the Spokane Chiefs (6) while the Seattle Thunderbirds (4) face U.S. Division archrivals the Everett Silvertips (5).
The WHL’s Prestige Partner Kal Tire will be the presenting sponsor of the 2014 WHL Playoffs and title sponsor of the Conference Championships and WHL Finals. As presenting sponsor of the WHL Playoffs, Kal Tire brands will be featured prominently in all western Canadian playoff venues during all four rounds of the 201 WHL Playoffs.
The WHL is also pleased to announce that SHAW TV will continue to provide extensive coverage of the WHL Playoffs by broadcasting an entire playoff series in each of the four rounds en route to the Ed Chynoweth Cup. SHAW TV will kick off their 2014 WHL Playoff coverage featuring Jake Virtanen’s Calgary Hitmen up against Sam Reinhart and the Kootenay Ice. The series begins on Thursday, March 20th at 7:00pm MDT at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary and can be seen LIVE on SHAW TV and in HD on SHAW Channel 303 or Channel 304 and SHAW Direct Channel 299 throughout Western Canada.
WHL Live webcasts will also cover the entire 2014 WHL Playoffs with the WHL’s digital media partner Neulion. All games will be available via webcast on the WHL Live website providing WHL fans the opportunity to watch their favorite club from anywhere in the world.
The Western Hockey League will host the 2014 WHL Awards Luncheon and Bantam Draft at the Deerfoot Inn in Calgary, Alberta, this year. The WHL Awards Luncheon, held annually to recognize the WHL’s top performers from the regular season, will be held on Wednesday, April 30th, while the annual WHL Bantam Draft will take place on Thursday, May 1st.
The OHL and the City of London, ON, will serve as hosts for the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The London Knights will be joined by the WHL Champions, Ontario Hockey League Champions and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Champions from May 16 – 25, 2014.
The Western Hockey League is pleased to acknowledge Kal Tire as our prestige partner and thank them for their continued support of the WHL and its member Clubs. The WHL would also like to recognize our elite partner BMO Financial Group and our official partners RE/MAX, General Paint, All Weather Windows, the Insurance Brokers Association of Western Canada, Sandman Hotels, Post Cereals, Subway, Denny’s, MasterCard, Home Hardware, Ryobi, Superior Propane, Stagg Chili, Arctic Spas, Travelodge, Old Dutch, State Farm, Chrysler, Jack Link’s, Reebok/CCM and Gatorade, together with our broadcast partners SHAW TV, Root Sports, Rogers Sportsnet and NeuLion.