2015 WHL’s Eastern Conference Round 1 Preview

227
mem 2015

 

(ISN) – CALGARY, AB – The 2015 WHL Playoffs open on Thursday, March 26th as 16 WHL Clubs begin the quest to become the 49th WHL Champions and earn a spot in the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Quebec City, QC.

In the WHL’s Eastern Conference, the Brandon Wheat Kings finished first in the Conference and claimed the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy with the league’s best record this season.  Can the defending WHL and MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings mount an upset of the league’s top regular season team? Will the Medicine Hat Tigers potent offense make a deep playoff run? Will the Calgary Hitmen continue their strong play of late well into May? Or, will another of the Eastern Conference’s elite make their statement in the post-season. Here’s a look at the WHL’s Eastern Conference Round 1 match-ups: 

BRANDON WHEAT KINGS vs EDMONTON OIL KINGS

2014-15 regular season record 
Brandon:                       53-11-4-4, 114pts (L10: 8-1-0-1) 
Edmonton:                    34-31-4-3, 75pts (L10: 6-3-0-1)

2014-15 head-to-head record 
Brandon:                       3-1-0-0, 6pts
Edmonton:                    1-2-1-0, 5pts 

2014-15 head-to-head top scorers 
Brandon:
Tim McGauley              4gp-3g-4a-7pts
Nolan Patrick                4gp-3g-2a-5pts

Edmonton: 
Lane Bauer                   4gp-2g-5a-7pts
Brett Pollock                 4gp-4g-1a-5pts

The Brandon Wheat Kings meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in Round 1 of the 2015 WHL Playoffs 

The Brandon Wheat Kings come into the playoffs as the regular season’s East Division, Eastern Conference and Scotty Munro Trophy champions. Tim McGauley and Morgan Klimchuk head up an attack that ranked first in the WHL in regular season scoring and boasted five players with 30 or more goals this season. McGauley finished third in WHL scoring with 105 points (42g-63a) while playing in all 72 games. Rookie defenceman Ivan Provorov led all WHL rookies in scoring with 61 points (15g- 46a) which also ranked fourth amongst all WHL defencemen. The Wheat Kings ranked first in the Eastern Conference and second overall in power play efficiency, executing on 25.7% of their power play opportunities. The Wheat Kings also owned a record of 40-5-2-2 when they outshot their opponent this season. Goaltender Jordan Papirny has been solid all season long for the Wheat Kings as he led the WHL with 44 wins to go along with a 2.74 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and two shutouts. The 2014 WHL and MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings battled their way into the playoffs and earned the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Defensively, the Oil Kings are among the League’s elite as they allowed the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference this year. The Oil Kings also owned the best penalty killing efficiency in the WHL with a success rate of 84.8%. Dyson Mayo and Ashton Sautner were both among the league leaders in scoring by defencemen as they tied for 10th overall. Mayo recorded 51 points (14g-37a) while Sautner had 51 points (12g-39a) as both players appeared in all 72 games. Veteran netminder Tristan Jarry has plenty of playoff experience as he earned 16 wins in the 2013-14 WHL Playoffs to lead the Oil Kings to their titles.

Series Schedule  

Game Visitor   Home Date Time
1 Edmonton @ Brandon Thursday, March 26 7:00pm CDT
2 Edmonton @ Brandon Friday, March 27 7:30pm CDT
3 Brandon @ Edmonton Sunday, March 29 6:00pm MDT
4 Brandon @ Edmonton Tuesday, March 31 8:00pm MDT
5* Brandon @ Edmonton Wednesday, April 1 8:00pm MDT
6* Edmonton @ Brandon Tuesday, April 7 7:00pm CDT
7* Edmonton @ Brandon Wednesday, April 8 7:00pm CDT

* If necessaryREGINA PATS vs SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS

2014-15 regular season record 
Regina:                           37-24-5-6, 85pts (L10: 4-4-0-2)
Swift Current:                  34-33-1-4, 73pts (L10: 4-6-0-0)

2014-15 head-to-head record  
Regina:                           3-5-0-0, 6pts
Swift Current:                  5-2-0-1, 11pts

2014-15 head-to-head top scorers
Regina:
Jesse Gabrielle                7gp-3g-4a-7pts
Adam Brooks                   7gp-3g-1a-4pts

Swift Current: 
Jake DeBrusk                  8gp-5g-7a-12pts
Colby Cave                      8gp-7g-3a-10pts

The Regina Pats come into the WHL Playoffs as the second seed in the East Division and finished with 85 points for the second straight year. Led by Adam Brooks’ 30 goals, the Pats boasted four players who topped the 25-goal mark and another four who hit the 20-goal plateau. Pats’ defenceman Colby Williams is coming off a productive season that saw him collect 41 points (11g-30a) to go along with a team-best plus-45 rating. Rookie Sam Steel enjoyed a fine season with the Pats scoring 54 points (17g-37a) in 61 games to finish fourth in WHL scoring amongst rookies. Goaltender Daniel Wapple collected 29 wins, posted a 3.03 goals against average along with a .906 save percentage and will likely get the start in the post-season. The Swift Current Broncos battled their way into the 2015 WHL Playoffs after winning their regular season finale. Broncos’ leading scorer, and NHL draft-eligible forward, Jake DeBrusk scored a team-leading 42 goals along with 39 assists for 81 points while playing in all 72 games this season. Colby Cave is the only Broncos skater who closed out the 2014-15 regular season with a plus rating in the plus-minus category. The Swift Current Broncos have an outstanding ability in closing out games as they posted a record of 25-0-0-1 when leading after two periods of play this season. Expect Team Canada gold medalist Dillon Heatherington to play the lead role on the Broncos blueline. Goaltender Landon Bow had a strong season, but will get his first taste of playoff hockey.

Series Schedule

Game Visitor   Home Date Time (MDT)
1 Swift Current @ Regina Friday, March 27 7:00
2 Swift Current @ Regina Saturday, March 28 7:00
3 Regina @ Swift Current Tuesday, March 31 7:00
4 Regina @ Swift Current Wednesday, April 1 7:00
5* Swift Current @ Regina Friday, April 3 7:00
6* Regina @ Swift Current Saturday, April 4 7:00
7* Swift Current @ Regina Tuesday, April 7 7:00

* If necessary  CALGARY HITMEN vs KOOTENAY ICE

2014-15 regular season record 
Calgary:                       45-22-1-4, 95pts (L10: 7-3-0-0)
Kootenay:                     37-31-1-3, 78pts (L10: 5-4-0-1)

2014-15 head-to-head record 
Calgary:                       4-2-1-0, 9pts
Kootenay:                     3-4-0-0, 6pts

2014-15 head-to-head top scorers 
Calgary: 
Chase Lang                  7gp-2g-8a-10pts
Radel Fazleev               7gp-3g-5a-8pts

Kootenay: 
Luke Philp                    7gp-6g-5a-11pts
Levi Cable                    6gp-6g-2a-8pts

The Calgary Hitmen claimed their seventh WHL Central Division title and it took all 72 games this season to do so. The Hitmen won their season finale against the Kootenay ICE to leapfrog the Medicine Hat Tigers by one point in the Central Division standings and claim first place.  Adam Tambellini led the Hitmen in scoring this year with 86 points (47g-39a), good enough for 10th overall in WHL scoring. Featuring six players with 20 or more goals and eight players with at least 40 points, Calgary is a potent offensive group. The Hitmen scored the second-most goals in the Eastern Conference with 289 while allowing the fewest goals against amongst all Eastern Conference Clubs. The Hitmen enjoyed strong team defence this year, including a penalty kill unit that ranked as the WHL’s third-best with an 82.6% success rate. Travis Sanheim ranked first among all WHL defenceman in scoring as he tallied 15 goals and 50 assists for 65 points. Goaltenders Brendan Burke and Mack Shields look to keep the Hitmen rolling as the team has won five straight games entering the post-season.

The ICE are making their 17th consecutive playoff appearance after having posted a record of .500 or better for a WHL-record 16th straight campaign. Five different skaters collected 50 points or more for the ICE, including team scoring leader Luke Philp. The four-year veteran notched 82 points (30g-52a) in 71 games while Jaedon Descheneau registered 81 points (34g-47a) to finish second in team scoring. Kootenay was reinvigorated this season with the return of Buffalo Sabres prospect and Team Canada gold medalist Sam Reinhart, who continues to give opposition fits. The ICE enjoyed the success of their penalty kill this year as they finished with the sixth-best unit in the WHL at 81.8%. ICE goaltender Wyatt Hoflin carried the workload this season playing in 67 games to earn 36 wins and three shutouts. Oh, and don’t forget, it was Kootenay who ousted the Hitmen in Round 1 of the 2014 WHL Playoffs in six games.

Series Schedule

Game Visitor   Home Date Time (MDT)
1 Kootenay @ Calgary Friday, March 27 7:00
2 Kootenay @ Calgary Sunday, March 29 4:00
3 Calgary @ Kootenay Tuesday, March 31 7:00
4 Calgary @ Kootenay Wednesday, April 1 7:00
5* Kootenay @ Calgary Friday, April 3 7:00
6* Calgary @ Kootenay Saturday, April 4 7:00
7* Kootenay @ Calgary Monday, April 6 7:00

* If necessary 
MEDICINE HAT TIGERS vs RED DEER REBELS

2014-15 regular season record 
Medicine Hat:                45-23-2-2, 94pts (L10: 7-2-1-0) 
Red Deer:                      38-23-5-6, 87pts (L10: 6-3-1-0) 

2014-15 head-to-head record
Medicine Hat:                 4-2-0-0, 8pts
Red Deer:                     2-3-1-0, 5pts

2014-15 head-to-head top scorers 
Medicine Hat: 
Trevor Cox                   6gp-2g-8a-10pts
Cole Sanford                  6gp-4g-3a-7pts

Red Deer: 
Wyatt Johnson              6gp-3g-2a-5pts
Presten Kopeck            6gp-2g-3a-5pts

The Medicine Hat Tigers finished second in the Central Division after having been narrowly edged out by Calgary for first place in the division, but come into the playoffs have won seven of their past 10 games. The Tigers are making their 13th straight playoff appearance, and have advanced to at least the second round in 11 of the last 12 seasons. Led by playmaker Trevor Cox, the Tigers boast five players who scored at least 20 goals and 50 points. Trevor Cox finished second in WHL regular season scoring with 109 points (29g-80a) in 69 games played and his 80 assists led all players. With defencemen Tyler Lewington, Kyle Burroughs and Tommy Vannelli, the Tigers have a balanced attack that scored the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference. The Tigers team defence combined with steady goaltending also allowed them to own the third-best defence in the Eastern Conference as they allowed just 213 goals. Import netminder Marek Langhamer posted a record of 30-16-1-2 with a .902 save percentage in 50 games while backup goaltender Nick Schneider enjoyed a terrific sophomore season with a 15-7-1-0 record in 27 appearances.The Red Deer Rebels enter the post-season as the third seed in the Central Division. Red Deer was consistent this year as they posted 19 of their wins at home and the remaining 19 on the road. Brooks Maxwell took his game to a new level in his fourth season, finishing third in team scoring with 59 points (27g-32a). Six Rebels skaters finished with at least 20 goals including trade acquisitions Riley Sheen and Connor Gay. The Rebels 83.7% penalty kill was the second best in the WHL this season. Rylan Toth will be looked on to shut down the Tigers’ offense as the rookie netminder will be making his first playoff appearance after a strong freshman campaign. The Rebels also look forward to the return of Colorado Avalanche prospect Conner Bleackley from injury.

Series Schedule

Game Visitor   Home Date Time (MDT)
1 Red Deer @ Medicine Hat Saturday, March 28 7:30
2 Red Deer @ Medicine Hat Sunday, March 29 6:00
3 Medicine Hat @ Red Deer Wednesday, April 1 TBD
4 Medicine Hat @ Red Deer Thursday, April 2 7:00
5* Red Deer @ Medicine Hat Saturday, April 4 7:30
6* Medicine Hat @ Red Deer Sunday, April 5 5:00
7* Red Deer @ Medicine Hat Tuesday, April 7 7:00

* If necessary

 

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