Things got rolling in the WHL playoffs on Friday with all 16 qualifiers in action. Seven of the series will continue on Saturday night, with the exception being the Regina-Saskatoon series, which will pick up with Game 2 on Sunday in ‘Toontown. . . . All series are best-of-seven and injury-related news will be harder to find than hen’s teeth. And line combinations that are available prior to regular-season games? Those now are top secret and confidential. . . .
FRIDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL PLAYOFFS:
Medicine Hat (8) at Winnipeg (1) — F Matt Savoie scored three times and added an assist to lead the Winnipeg Ice to a 5-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Savoie gave the Ice a 2-0 lead at 8:22 of the first period, upped it to 4-1 at 4:55 of the third and made it 5-2 with an empty-netter at 18:53 of the third. . . . Three of Winnipeg’s first four goals came via the PP as it went 3-for-6 with the man advantage. . . . D Ben Zloty recorded four assists, three of them on the PP. . . . F Andrew Basha scored twice for the visitors, who held a 36-35 edge in shots. . . . F Zach Benson was among Winnipeg’s scratches. He was the Ice’s leading scorer in the regular season with 98 points, 62 of them assists, in 60 regular-season games but hasn’t played since March 10. . . .
Calgary (7) at Red Deer (2) — G Kyle Kelsey stopped 25 shots to help the Red Deer Rebels to a 3-0 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Kelsey was 21-11-5, 2.64, .907 with four shutouts in his freshman season. He has put up three blank jobs in his las four starts, with two of them coming against Calgary. . . . F Kai Uchacz, a 50-goal man in the regular season, scored the game’s first goal at 17:56 of the first period. . . . The Rebels nursed that lead until F Jayden Grubbe scored at 13:22 of the third period and F Frantisek Formanek counted at 17:56. . . . The Rebels are without F Ben King, who led the WHL last season with 52 goals. This season, he finished with 17 goals and 18 assists in 30 games, but he last played on March 18. . . .
Regina (6) at Saskatoon (3) — F Connor Bedard scored twice and added an assist to lead the Regina Pats to a 6-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . But it was F Zackary Shantz who got the Pats started, giving them a 1-0 lead at 4:11 of the second period with his first WHL goal. The 17-year-old from Sucker Creek, Alta., went into the game with one assist in 22 regular-season games — nine with Prince George and 13 with Regina. . . . F Riley Ginnell upped Regina’s lead to 3-0 just nine seconds into the third period. . . . The Blades got to within two when F Lukas Hansen scored at 9:54 but it was too little and too late. . . . G Drew Sim earned the victory with 27 stops. . . . There were only two minor penalties called, both to the Pats. . . . If you’re wondering, the announced attendance was 10,265. . . .
Lethbridge (5) at Moose Jaw (4) — F Jagger Firkus struck for PP goal late in the second OT period to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 2-1 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge had failed to score on a PP opportunity late in the first OT. . . . Firkus, who also had an assist, got the winner with 17 seconds left in the second OT period. . . . D Logan Dowhaniuk had given the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 4:53 of the second period. . . . F Cole Shepard tied it at 12:04, scoring while shorthanded. . . . The four Warriors who sat out the regular season’s last 17 games due to WHL-issues suspensions — G Connor Ungar, D Max Wanner, D Marek Howell and F Lynden Lakovic — all played. In fact, Ungar and Wanner were in the starting lineup. . . . Ungar finished with 50 stops. . . . Lethbridge G Bryan Thomson, who is from Moose Jaw, blocked 52 shots. . . .
Kelowna (8) at Seattle (1) — The Seattle Thunderbirds erased a 2-0 deficit to beat the Kelowna Rockets, 3-2, in Kent, Wash. . . . F Dylan Guenther scored twice for Seattle, the second one tying the game, 2-2, at 3:22 of the third period. . . . F Reid Schaefer snapped the tie, on a PP, at 5:53. . . . Guenther drew the primary assist on the winner, giving him a three-point night. . . . The Rockets got 36 saves from G Jari Kykkanen. G Talyn Boyko, who made 40 regular-appearances for the Rockets, appeared in only five of 12 March games. . . . G Thomas Milic stopped 23 shots for Seattle. . . . These teams are meeting in the playoffs for the 10th time since 2001, with the Thunderbirds holding a 5-4 edge. Seattle has won the last three times they’ve met — 2016 and 2017 in the Western Conference final and last season in the first round. Seattle is 3-1 in first-round series with Kelowna. . . .
Vancouver (7) at Kamloops (2) — F Logan Stankoven, who led the 2022 playoffs in goals, scored three times and added two assists as his Kamloops Blazers dropped the Vancouver Giants, 8-0. . . . Last spring, Stankoven scored 17 times in 17 games. . . . The Blazers scored four times in the first period and took it from there. . . . Kamloops outshot Vancouver, 17-3, in that first period and held a 39-7 edge after the second. . . . G Dylan Ernst stopped 15 shots for the shutout. . . . D Olen Zellweger had four assists. . . . F Caedan Banker chipped in a goal and two helpers. . . .
Everett (6) at Portland (3) — F Marcus Nguyen scored twice to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Nguyen’s first goal gave Portland a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 5:26 of the second period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski got Everett even, on a PP, at 4:17 of the third, only to have Nguyen break the tie, on another PP, at 10:59. . . . F James Stefan made it 4-2 at 12:20. . . . F Austin Roest’s second goal of the game got Everett to within one at 16:49. . . . Portland was 3-for-4 on the PP; Everett was 1-for-6. . . . Roest, who last played on March 8, returned to the lineup and had three points. He had 78 points, including 32 goals, in 60 regular-season games. . . . G Jan Špunar earned the victory with 28 saves. . . .
Tri-City (5) at Prince George (4) — The Tri-City Americans coughed up a 3-0 lead but came back to beat the Prince George Cougars, 6-4. . . . F Tyson Greenway scored twice as the Americans grabbed a 3-0 lead early in the second period. . . . The Cougars came back and tied it when F Caden Brown scored his second goal of the game at 2:03 of the third period. . . . Goals from F Jake Sloan, at 4:46, and F Deagan McMillan, at 6:55, put Tri-City ahead, 5-34. . . . F Zac Funk got the Cougars to within a goal at 9:42, then they thought they had it tied with 58 seconds left only to have the goal disallowed because the net was off its moorings. . . . F Jalen Luypen iced it with the empty-netter. . . . The Americans got 43 saves from G Tomas Suchanek. . . . This series has a 2-3-2 format, meaning the Americans now are in a position to win it on home ice.
F Josh Filmon of the Swift Current Broncos has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils, who selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. From Winnipeg, Filmon, 19, had 47 goals and 28 assists in the just-completed WHL regular season. In 148 career games, he has 122 points, 72 of them goals. . . . He made his pro debut with the AHL’s Utica Comets on Friday night. Filmon had two shots and a tripping minor in a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Rochester Americans.
My wife, Dorothy, will be taking part in the 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 4 and, for a 10th straight year, is fund-raising. In September, she will celebrate 10 years as a transplant recipient. . . . If you would like to make a donation and be part of Team Dorothy, you may do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.