There was a full slate of WHL playoff games on Saturday night, meaning all eight surviving teams were in on the action. When the smoke cleared, three teams, all playing at home, held 2-0 leads in the best-of-seven conference semifinal series. . . . In the other series, the Portland Winterhawks opened with a 4-2 victory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds. They will resume that series today in Portland. This series has a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format. It wasn’t able to open with two in Portland because the Winterhawks’ home arena was busy with grad ceremonies. . . .
At this point, it would seem that if you are looking for close games, you best pay attention to the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, through four games, the winners hold a 22-1 edge in goals scored, including 12-0 last night.
THE WHL ON SATURDAY:
In Winnipeg, F Jack Finley scored the game’s first two goals and G Daniel Hauser recorded the shutout as the No. 1 Ice steamrolled the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors, 7-0, in Game 2 of their semifinal. . . . The Ice had won the opener, 6-1, on Friday night. . . . The teams now head for Moose Jaw and Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Finley, who has four goals in these playoffs, struck at 2:49 and 3:35 of the first period. . . . F Connor McClennon (5) made it 3-0, on a PP, at 9:01 and the Ice was off to the races. . . . F Matt Savoie (3), F Mikey Milne (7), F Zach Benson (6) and F Chase Wheatcroft (1) also scored. . . . Savoie and Benson, who also had three assists, scored while shorthanded; Milne struck on a PP. . . . The Ice was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Warriors were 0-for-3. . . . Hauser finished with 27 saves in earning his first playoff shutout after putting up eight in the regular season. In seven playoff games, he is 6-1, 1.29, .936. . . . The Warriors are playing without D Daemon Hunt, their captain, who is out with an undisclosed injury. He hasn’t played since being injured on March 19, missing the Warriors’ final eight regular-season games and their seven playoff games to date. . . .
In Edmonton, F Jaxsen Wiebe scored his first two playoff goals as the No. 2 Oil Kings held serve on home ice with a 5-0 victory over the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . . The series will resume in Red Deer with games on Monday and Wednesday, and with the Rebels still looking for their first goal. They were beaten 4-0 in Thursday’s opener. . . . Wiebe, who played the previous two seasons with Red Deer, opened the scoring with his first playoff goal at 11:45 of the second period. . . . F Dylan Guenther (6) upped the lead to 2-0 at 17:02. . . . F Justin Sourdif (1) counted Edmonton’s third goal on a penalty shot at 2:56 of the third period. . . . F Jakub Demek (2), on a PP, at 7:10, and Wiebe, while shorthanded, at 9:22, completed the scoring. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 26 shots in posting his second straight shutout. In these playoffs, he is 6-0, 1.00, .957, with three shutouts.
In Kamloops, the No. 2 Blazers got past the No. 8 Vancouver Giants, 4-3, to take a 2-0 lead in their semifinal. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Langley, B.C., on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . F Drew Englot (2) gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 11:04 of the first period, but the Giants took a 2-1 lead into the second on goals from D Alex Cotton (5), at 12:49, and D Evan Toth (2), while shorthanded at 19:53. . . . Kamloops responded with three straight second-period goals, from F Connor Levis (2), at 1:21, F Caedan Bankier (3), at 6:41, and F Daylan Kuefler (3), on a PP, at 14:21. . . . Kuefler’s goal turned into the winner after F Ethan Semeniuk (2) pulled the Giants to within one at 15:53. . . . Bankier’s goal ran his point streak to 16 games — 10 to close out the regular season and six playoff games. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 23 shots for Kamloops, 12 fewer than Vancouver’s Jesper Vikman. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-9 on the PP, with five of those coming in the third period. . . . Vancouver was 0-for-5 after going 0-for-3 in Game 1. When they eliminated the No. 1 Everett Silvertips in six games, Vancouver was 12-for-32 on the PP. . . . The Blazers were missing F Luke Toporowski, who left in the first period of Game 1 with an apparent shoulder injury. . . . The Giants lost D Mazden Leslie and F Colton Langkow to undisclosed injuries in Game 1. Vancouver already was without forwards Payton Mount, Cole Shepard and Jacob Boucher, none of whom travelled to Kamloops. . . .
In Kent, Wash., D Clay Hanus struck for a PP goal late in the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie and sending the Portland Winterhawks on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for today in Portland, with a third game to be played there on Wednesday. . . . F Jared Davidson (4) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 9:28 of the first period. . . . Portland took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Marcus Nguyen (1), at 8:44 of the second period, and F James Stefan (3), at 14:44. . . . F Matthew Rempe (4) pulled Seattle even at 19:00. . . . OT was on the horizon when Hanus scored his first goal of these playoffs, at 16:21 of the third period, on Portland’s fourth PP opportunity. The Winterhawks finished 1-for-4; Seattle was 0-for-1. . . . Portland F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 23 shots for Portland, three more than Seattle’s Thomas Milic.
JUST NOTES: F Niko Huuhtanen of the Everett Silvertips has joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch for the remainder of the season. Huuhtanen, who will turn 19 on June 26, was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. From Finland, he had 37 goals and 40 assists in 65 regular-season games with the Silvertips. He added 10 points, including five goals, in five playoff games. . . .
F Jake Chiasson of the Brandon Wheat Kings now is with the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Chiasson, who will turn 19 on May 25, was a fourth-round pick by the Oilers in the 2021 NHL draft. He was limited to 20 games this season by shoulder surgery, and finished with six goals and 12 assists. . . .
The Brooks Bandits won the AJHL championship on Saturday night, beating the visiting Spruce Grove Saints, 2-0, to win the best-of-seven final, 4-1. . . . G Ethan Barwick recorded a 21-save shutout. . . . The Bandits now move on to the Centennial Cup tournament in Estevan, Sask., that is to run from May 18-29. . . .
The Niverville Nighthawks, an MJHL expansion team, have signed Ethan Maertens-Poole as an assistant coach to work alongside head coach Kelvin Cech. Maertens-Poole spent the 2021-22 season as an associate coach with the junior B Golden Rockets of the KIJHL.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to 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.