A few Twitter tidbits from Tuesday’s three-game night on the WHL playoff scene . . .
Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow): “Moose Jaw forces Winnipeg into allowing their most goals this season (8). Lynden Lakovic, who scored twice in the regular season, does so in one playoff game. Youngest (and first 16-year-old) with 2-goals in 1 playoff game with Warriors in Internet Era. . . . Brayden Yager, who sits 3rd on list behind Lakovic and Kendall McArdle, registers 4 assists matching career competitive best. Jagger Firkus extends point streak to 13 with a pair of tallies, 4th multigoal game in span. Ryder Korczak collects 1+2, 3rd straight multipoint effort.” . . .
Brandow, again: “Red Deer is a step away from a conference final appearance after a come-from-behind win. Frantisek Formanek finds a home for 3rd playoff goal while Dwayne Jean Jr. puts team ahead for good. 5 goals since joining the Rebels, all have come at home.” . . .
More from Brandow: “Seattle wins in a romp, most road goals in playoffs since March, 2017. Half of their eight markers come on man advantage. Brad Lambert leads charge with a goal and 5 assists. 11 assists, 13 points in series (PG has 6 — 3G, 3A — as a whole). . . . Dylan Guenther grabs another pair of goals, extending goal streak to 13. First since Giorgio Estephan to have 10+ goals in consecutive playoffs (11 w/ LET in 2017; 13 w/ SC in 2018).” . . .
From Troy Gillard (@Troy_Gillard): “Kyle Kelsey has set a Rebels record by winning six-straight playoff games, besting Shane Bendera’s record of five-straight in 2001.”
WHL PLAYOFF NOTES:
And then there were seven . . .
One more team bowed out of the WHL playoffs on a four-game Wednesday night, leaving six standing in the chase for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. BTW, the road team won each of the four games. . . .
In Prince George, the No. 1 Seattle Thunderbirds won their eighth straight game beating the No. 4 Cougars, 8-2, to sweep that Western Conference semifinal series.
The Thunderbirds now await a winner of the other semifinal between the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers and No. 3 Portland Winterhawks. Last night in Portland, the Blazers posted a 3-2 victory and lead the series, 3-0. They’ll play Game 4 tonight in Portland. That will be the WHL’s lone game of the night.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the No. 2 Saskatoon Blades avoided a sweep by beating the No. 3 Rebels, 4-2, in Red Deer. They’ll play Game 5 in Saskatoon on Friday, with the Rebels holding a 3-1 series lead.
And, in Moose Jaw, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice tied the series with the No. 4 Warriors, posting a 3-2 OT victory. Those teams now head for Winnipeg and Game 5 on Friday, then return to Moose Jaw for Game 6 on Monday.
WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL PLAYOFFS:
Winnipeg (1) at Moose Jaw (4) — F Zack Ostapchuk scored on a PP in OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 3-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . That series is tied, 2-2, as the teams return to Winnipeg for Game 5 on Saturday night. . . . They are scheduled to play a sixth game in Moose Jaw on Monday night. . . . F Vladislav Shilo (2) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 8:22 of the first period. . . . The Warriors tied it at 12:57 as F Martin Rysavy (5) scored. . . . The Ice went back in front, 2-1, 50 seconds in to the second period on a goal from F Matt Savoie (8). . . . F Jagger Firkus (8) got the Warriors back even at 1:22 of the third period. . . . Ostapchuk scored his sixth goal of the playoffs at 11:56 of OT. . . . Winnipeg D Ben Zloty drew three assists. He has 13 points, all assists, in eight games. . . . The Ice was 1-for-2 on the PP; the Warriors were 0-for-1. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 29 saves, nine fewer than Moose Jaw’s Connor Ungar. . . . The Warriors welcomed back F Robert Baco after he completed a three-game suspension for a goaltender interference major he took in Lethbridge on April 5. . . . The Ice was without F Evan Friesen, who completed a two-game suspension for a headshot on Moose Jaw D Matthew Gallant in Game 2. Gallant, who likely is in concussion protocol, hasn’t played since the hit. . . .
Saskatoon (2) at Red Deer (3) — The Saskatoon Blades erased a 2-0 first-period deficit en route to a 4-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Rebels still hold a 3-1 series lead as the series goes back to Saskatoon for Game 5 on Friday night. . . . F Kai Uchacz, without a point in the first three games of this series. scored twice to give the Rebels a 2-0 first-period lead. A 50-goal man in the regular season, he has six goals in these playoffs. . . . D Aidan De La Gorgendiere (1) got the Saskatoon comeback started, on a PP, at 12:09 of the second period. . . . F Jayden Wiens (5) tied it at 4:12 of the third period and F Brandon Lisowsky (3) gave Saskatoon the lead 43 seconds later. . . . D Tanner Molendyk (1) added insurance at 8:15. . . . The Blades got 34 saves from G Ethan Chadwick. . . . Saskatoon F Justin Lies was tossed with a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Red Deer F Kalan Lind at 3:24 of the first period. Lind was down for several minutes before being removed on a stretcher. Lind was taken to Red Deer Regional Hospital where he underwent an examination before being released.
Seattle (1) at Prince George (4) — The Seattle Thunderbirds advanced to the Western Conference final with an 8-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Thunderbirds swept their second straight series. They will meet either the Kamloops Blazers or Portland Winterhawks in the conference final. . . . The Thunderbirds outscored the Cougars, 25-5, in the four games. In eight playoffs games — they swept the Kelowna Rockets in the first round — the Thunderbirds have outscored the opposition, 39-8. Seattle has yet to allow more than two goals in a game in these playoffs. . . . Last night, four of Seattle’s first five goals came from skaters who scored for the first time in the eight-game run — F Sam Popowich, D Jeremy Hanzel, D Bryce Pickford and D Luke Prokop. . . . In all, the Thunderbirds got goals from eight different players, with F Colton Dach (2), F Mekei Sanders (2), F Reid Schaefer (3) and F Jared Davidson (5) also scoring. . . . Dach had two assists and was the only Seattle skater with three points. . . . Seattle F Brad Lambert, who put up six points in Game 3, had two assists in this one. He finished the four games with two goals and 12 helpers. . . . The Cougars had F Riley Heidt back from a one-game suspension, and he had two assists. . . . Prince George was without F Jaxsen Wiebe, who drew one of those TBD suspensions for a match penalty he incurred in Game 3. . . . F Zach Funk (5) and F Chase Wheatcroft (5) had the Cougars’ goals. . . . The Thunderbirds got 22 saves from G Thomas Milic, who now is 8-0, 1.13, .953. . . .
Kamloops (2) at Portland (3) — F Fraser Minten’s PP goal at 1:56 of the third period turned out to be the winner as the Kamloops Blazers beat the Portland Winterhawks, 3-2. . . . Kamloops leads the series, 3-0, and can finish it tonight in Portland. . . . The Blazers are 7-0 in these playoffs. . . . F Jakub Demek (3) gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 9:48 of the first period. . . . F Jack O’Brien (3) pulled Portland even, on a PP, at 11:23. . . . F Logan Stankoven (8) gave the visitors a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 4:35 of the second period, with Minten getting his second goal of the playoffs at 1:56 of the third period. . . . D Luca Cagnoni (1) got Portland to within a goal at 14:02 of the third period, but the Winterhawks weren’t able to equalize. . . . Kamloops was 2-for-3 on the PP; Portland was 1-for-4. . . . G Dylan Ernst stopped 23 shots for Kamloops, 10 fewer than Portland’s Jan Spunar. . . . Stankoven also had an assist, and now has 18 points in seven games. . . . He and F Jagger Firkus of the Moose Jaw Warriors are two points behind F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats, who put up a WHL-leading 20 points in a seven-game loss to the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Blazers drew a $250 fine from the WHL on Monday for a warmup violation prior to Game 1 on Friday in Kamloops. It was their second such fine in these playoffs; they also were fined $250 for a warmup violation prior to a first-round game against the host Vancouver Giants on April 4.
THE COACHING GAME:
The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights announced on Wednesday that they and Manny Viveiros, the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights, “have mutually agreed to part ways.” . . . Viveiros’s contract expires on June 30. He was the Silver Knights’ head coach through their first three seasons of existence. They went 89-79-11 over that stretch, and 3-4 in two playoff appearances. . . . This season, the Silver Knights finished 29-38-5, good for ninth in the 10-team Pacific Division. They didn’t qualify for the playoffs. . . . Viveiros is a former WHL player and coach. He played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. He was the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos for two seasons (2016-18) and guided them to the 2018 WHL championship. He also was the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs for the 2019-20 season. . . . Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ general manager, was quoted in the news release announcing Viveiros’s departure. Tim Speltz, once the longtime GM of the Spokane Chiefs, is the Silver Knights’ GM. There wasn’t any mention of Henderson assistant coach Jamie Heward or video coach Andrew Doty in the news release. Heward played and coached in the WHL, while Doty once worked with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .
The Connecticut Whale of the Premier Hockey Federation has extended head coach Colton Orr’s contract through the 2024-25 season. In May 2022, his contract had been extended through the 2023-24 season. . . . Orr, who played four seasons in the WHL, has been the professional women’s team’s head coach through four seasons. . . . In the WHL, Orr played with the Swift Current Broncos, Kamloops Blazers and Regina Pats (1999-2003).
F Marcus Almquist of the Victoria Royals has turned pro, signing with the Rødovre Mighty Bulls of Metal Ligaen, the top league in his native Denmark. Almquist, who will turn 20 on Sept. 13, is from Rødovre, Denmark, and will join his new team for the 2023-24 season. He previously played 19 games for the Bulls in 2020-21, while on loan from the Royals, putting up five goals and an assist. In 82 games over two seasons with the Royals, he had 33 points, 19 of them goals. . . .
Three of the four QMJHL second-round series ended in sweeps, with only the Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats still battling. . . . The Gatineau Olympiques swept the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, the Quebec Remparts quickly disposed of the Rimouski Oceanic, and the Sherbrooke Phoenix ousted the Drummondville Voltigeurs in four games. . . . The Mooseheads hold a 2-1 edge on the Wildcats going into Game 4 tonight in Moncton. The winner of this series will meet Quebec in the next round, with Gatineau and Sherbrooke facing off in the other semifinal. . . .
In the BCHL, the Penticton Vees advanced to the third round of the playoffs on Wednesday night with a 5-1 victory over the host Wenatchee, Wash., Wild. The Vees swept the best-of-seven series and now have won 24 straight playoff games. Last season, the Vees lost their first playoff game, then won 16 in a row en route to the championship. This post-season, they have opened with eight straight victories.
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