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2019 WHL Conference Final Preview

 

The third round of the Western Hockey League playoffs begins Friday, with both series set to face off:

Eastern Conference

(EAST 1) Prince Albert Raiders (54-10-2-2) vs. (CEN 1) Edmonton Oil Kings (42-18-4-4)

Season Series: Prince Albert wins 3-1-0-0

Raiders – 112 Points (1st in East Division)
Top Scorer: Brett Leason (36-53-89)
Top Goaltender: Ian Scott (38-8-1-2, 1.83, .932)
Home: 28-4-2-0 | Road: 26-6-0-2
GF: 307 (1st) | GA: 156 (2nd)
PP: 22.0% (9th) | PK: 86.9% (1st)
Playoffs: Defeated Red Deer 4-0, Saskatoon 4-2

Oil Kings – 92 Points (1st in Central Division)
Top Scorer: Trey Fix-Wolansky (37-65-102)
Top Goaltender: Dylan Myskiw (28-11-2-3, 2.53, .914)
Home: 25-9-0-0 | Road: 17-9-4-4
GF: 259 (5th) | GA: 196 (6th)
PP: 23.2% (7th) | PK: 80.3% (9th)
Playoffs: Defeated Medicine Hat 4-2, Calgary 4-0

For the first time since 2005, the Raiders have advanced to the conference final. It’s a different story, however, for the Oil Kings, as the franchise is just five years removed from a Memorial Cup win that followed a trip to the WHL Final as well as the team’s first league championship in 2012. Through the first half of the postseason, both teams boast a 8-2 record, though the Raiders finished 20 points ahead of the Oil Kings in the regular season, thanks in part to a 19-game win streak through the early goings. Prince Albert is led by 19-year-old forward Brett Leason, who after being passed over in the past two drafts made a name for himself this season as he led the Raiders in scoring with 89 points and was also a part of Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. The team is also strong between the pipes with Toronto Maple Leafs up-and-comer Ian Scott, whose eight shutouts in the regular season ranked first league-wide. Meanwhile, the Oil Kings bring a balanced scoring attack where six skaters have already found the back of the net at least three times this postseason, including captain Trey Fix-Wolansky, who after putting up 102 points to lead the team in regular season scoring has notched eight points in 10 postseason appearances.

Western Conference

(BC 1) Vancouver Giants (48-15-3-2) vs. (US 2) Spokane Chiefs (40-21-2-5)

Season Series: Vancouver wins 3-1-0-0

Giants – 101 Points (1st in B.C. Division)
Top Scorer: Davis Koch (28-50-78)
Top Goaltender: Trent Miner (24-5-1-1, 1.98, .924)
Home: 26-6-1-1 | Road: 22-9-2-1
GF: 228 (11th) | GA: 162 (3rd)
PP: 24.6% (4th) | PK: 84.9% (2nd)
Playoffs: Defeated Seattle 4-2, Victoria 4-0

Chiefs – 87 Points (2nd in U.S. Division)
Top Scorer: Riley Woods (29-46-75)
Top Goaltender: Bailey Brkin (27-11-1-2, 2.75, .914)
Home: 24-7-0-3 | Road: 16-14-2-2
GF: 267 (3rd) | GA: 222 (10th)
PP: 29.1% (1st) | PK: 76.6% (14th)
Playoffs: Defeated Portland 4-1, Everett 4-1

The Giants enter the Western Conference Final riding an impressive six-game win streak, including a four-game ousting of the rival Royals in the second round. Leading the charge for the Giants is right-wing Davis Koch, whose 14 points, including a league-leading nine goals, sit tied with Prince Albert’s Dante Hannoun for top spot in playoff scoring. The team’s top scorer is closely followed by draft-eligible defenceman Bowen Byram, who has collected 13 points in just 10 outings, and who enters the NHL draft as Central Scouting’s second-ranked North American skater. The two will go head-to-head with the Chiefs’ Riley Woods, who has carried his regular season production into the postseason as he has notched a team-leading 11 points through 10 games. Spokane also shows strong secondary support in Los Angeles Kings prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who has tallied at a point-per-game pace, while rookie left-wing Adam Beckman has also impressed in recording nine points in 10 games. Between the pipes, the Chiefs turn to solid netminder Bailey Brkin, while the Giants bring an intriguing tandem of Trent Miner and David Tendeck, both of whom have put up steady playoff performances.

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