The WHL’s championship final, featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle Thunderbirds, will open in the Alberta capital with games on Friday and Sunday.
The series will follow a 2-2-3 format — yes, you read that correctly. Due to building availability issues — the arena is booked for graduation ceremonies from June 9-15 — in Kent, Wash., the Thunderbirds will get only two home games, although they will be designated as the home team for one of the possible five games in Edmonton.
They will play Games 3 and 4 in Kent on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 8), before returning to Edmonton, if necessary, to finish up. Those games would be played on June 11, 13 and 14, with the Thunderbirds the ‘home’ team for Game 6. TSN will televise the series, beginning with Game 3.
The Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s second seed, advanced to the final by taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games. Edmonton has been sitting and waiting for an opponent since eliminating the Ice on Friday.
The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s fourth seed, ousted the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, winning Game 7, 3-2, on the road on Tuesday night.
The Oil Kings last reached the WHL final in 2014 when they beat the Portland Winterhawks in seven games en route to winning the Memorial Cup. That was the third of three straight WHL finals to feature Edmonton and Portland — the Oil Kings won in 2012 and 2014.
Edmonton is 12-1 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games.
Seattle last appeared in the WHL final in 2017 when it won the championship by taking out the Regina Pats in six games. One year earlier, the Thunderbirds lost the final, 4-1, to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
In these playoffs, Seattle now is 12-7, having eliminated the Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, and then gone seven games with both Portland and Kamloops.
Interestingly, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 in both those series by a 2-1 count at home, then went on the road to win Game 7. In the process, they became the first team in WHL history — which begins in 1966-67 — to win two Game 7s on the road in the same playoff season.
TUESDAY IN THE WHL:
In Kamloops, F Jared Davidson scored twice and linemate Lukas Svejkovsky drew three assists as the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 3-2, in Game 7 of the conference final. . . . It was the fifth time the Thunderbirds faced elimination in these playoffs and they now are 5-0 in such games. . . . The Blazers opened the scoring for the sixth time in the series when F Fraser Minten (6) struck at 8:34 of the opening period. . . . Seattle F Lucas Ciona drilled the left post behind G Dylan Garand a few minutes later. . . . The Thunderbirds pulled even at 15:47 when Davidson (10) snapped one home from the right face-off dot just seven seconds into the game’s first PP opportunity. That would be the only PP by either team on this night. . . . Davidson (11) shot Seattle into the lead at 2:27 of the second period following another face-off win in the Kamloops zone. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-1 at 14:56 as F Henrik Rybinski (4) beat Garand by tipping in a shot by D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic preserved the two-goal lead with a big stop off Kamloops F Logan Stankoven through traffic to start the third period. . . . The Blazers finally got to within a goal, but there were only 7.4 seconds left to play when F Daylan Kuefler (10) scored. . . . Milic finished with 33 saves, four fewer than Garand. . . . What was the key to Seattle’s series victory? Over the last four games of the series, the Thunderbirds held Stankoven, who leads the playoffs with 30 points, to three assists, while shutting out linemate Luke Toporowski, who finished with 23 points. Stankoven had scored hat tricks in Games 1 and 3, with Toporowski recording six helpers. . . . Meanwhile, Svejkovsky put up two goals and eight assists in six games, while Davidson had five goals and three assists in seven games, and Rybinsky, the third member of that line, played in only four games but had a goal and four assists.
The Minnesota Twins will be in Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays, but shortstop Carlos Correa, a two-time all-star with the Houston Astros, won’t be with them. He was placed on the COVID-19 restricted list on Tuesday after exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and getting worse on Monday. Also on that list are Joe Ryan, a right-handed started, and backup OF Gilberto Celestino. . . . According to Sportsnet, the Twins, who began the week in Detroit against the Tigers, “have already said they’ll have ‘a few’ players on the restricted list not travelling to Toronto. This generally means players unvaccinated against COVID-19.”
My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her right here.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Beau McCue won’t be back as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, but he will be remaining with the organization. According to a news release, McCue, who played four seasons (2012-16) with the Americans, “will remain with the club in a supportive role within hockey operations.” . . . BTW, I asked American’s general manager Bob Tory, who is one of four co-owners, a while back if Stu Barnes would be back as head coach. The one-word response was: “Absolutely.” . . . Barnes, who also owns a piece of the Americans, now is preparing for his second season as the club’s head coach. . . .
The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have added Matt Dawson as an assistant coach. A former Eagles defenceman, he played five seasons (2015-20) at the U of New Hampshire. In 2022-23, he was an assistant coach with the junior B Delta Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . .
The junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have signed general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter to a three-year contract extension. He is preparing for his second season with the club. . . .
The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s defending champions, have promoted Jiri Novak to assistant general manager and associate head coach. He is going into is fourth season on the coaching staff. . . .
Alex Mandolidis has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He is coming off three seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based Mount Royal U Cougars men’s hockey team. Before that, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs for one season. . . . With the Blues, he takes over from Taras McEwen, who now is the director of hockey operations. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze.
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.