(ISN) – Brandon, MB. — For the first time in two weeks, hockey returns to Westman Communications Group Place Friday night as the Brandon Wheat Kings play host to the visiting Regina Pats in game one of their Western Hockey League Eastern Conference Semi-Final.
It’s been a long wait for both teams after both clinched their first round series nine days ago. While the Pats swept the Swift Current Broncos, the Wheat Kings eliminated the defending Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings in five games.
Brandon and Regina met eight times during the 2014-15 regular season with the Wheat Kings winning five. Tim McGauley, who finished third in league scoring during with 42 goals and 105 points, led Brandon with three goals and 11 points in eight games against the Pats while captain Peter Quenneville had ten.
McGauley, who leads the Wheat Kings in playoff scoring with three goals and 7 points in five games, enters Friday’s series opener having scored at least a point in four of the 5 games against Edmonton.
Netminder Jordan Papirny meanwhile stopped 180 of 191 shots in Brandon’s first round series and was named the first or second star in the four Wheat King victories.
This is the second straight year that Brandon has met the Pats in the WHL playoffs, with the Wheat kings sweeping their best of seven first round series last year.
One of the keys to last year’s first round win was the play of Florida Panthers’ second round draft choice Jayce Hawryluk. The 18-year old Roblin product played in just three of Brandon’s eight regular season games with the Pats this year but with the clubs having met 24 times (pre-season, regular season and playoffs) since the start of the 2013-2014 season, Hawryluk pick knows that it should be a great rivalry series.
“It’s a big rivalry and it’s definitely grown over the past couple of seasons that I’ve been here,” Hawryluk told CKLQ’s Bruce Luebke this week. “You never want to lose to those guys and I’m sure they think the same way. It’s always a good game and very intense.”
Brandon’s powerplay this season has been one of the primary reasons for success of the Wheat Kings, who finished atop the WHL this year with an impressive 53-11-4-4 record. Not only did the Wheat Kings have the second most potent powerplay during the regular season (25.7%), they were 6-17 (35.3%) in the five games against the Oil Kings.
A key to the Pats first round sweep of the Broncos meanwhile was veteran goalkeeper Daniel Wapple. In the four games, he compiled a brilliant 1.96 goals against average, a sparkling .933 save percentage and one shutout.
Following is a closer look at this second round playoff match-up:
2014-15 regular season record
Brandon: 53-11-4-4, 114pts
Regina: 37-24-5-6, 85pts
2014-15 head-to-head record
Brandon: 5-2-1-0, 11pts
Regina: 3-5-0-0, 6pts
2014-15 head-to-head top scorers
Tim McGauley (BDN) 8gp-3g-8a-11pts
Peter Quenneville (BDN) 8gp-4g-6a-10pts
Braden Christoffer (REG) 8gp-4g-7a-11pts
Sam Steel (REG) 7gp-3g-5a-8pts
Regina @ Brandon Wheat Kings – Friday, April 10th
Regina @ Brandon Wheat Kings – Saturday, April 11th
Brandon @ Regina Pats – Tuesday, April 14th
Brandon @ Regina Pats – Wednesday, April 15th
Game 5 *
Regina @ Brandon Wheat Kings – Friday, April 17th
Game 6 *
Brandon @ Regina Pats – Sunday, April 19th
Game 7 *
Regina @ Brandon Wheat Kings – Tuesday, April 21st