Twelve teams remain in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs, with the puck set to drop Thursday:
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (59-8-0-1) vs. Rimouski Oceanic (44-20-4-0)
Season Series: Rouyn-Noranda wins 4-0-0-0
In the third round of playoff action, the first-place Huskies will look to repeat their regular season sweep of the rival Oceanic. Leading the way is 21-year-old Peter Abbandonato, who put up 111 points to capture the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the regular-season scoring champion. Rouyn-Noranda is currently riding a six-game win streak, including four straight over the Tigres in the previous round. The Huskies look to advance to the QMJHL Final for the second time in the past four years, but will first need to go through an Oceanic squad that includes 2020 NHL Draft headliner Alexis Lafreniere, who in only his second season finished just six points shy of top scorer honours. The third-round matchup could come down to a goaltending duo between Rouyn-Noranda’s Samuel Harvey and Colten Ellis of the Oceanic, who rank first and second, respectively, in the playoffs for goals-against average and save percentage.
Drummondville Voltigeurs (52-13-2-1) vs. Halifax Mooseheads (49-15-2-2)
Season Series: Drummondville wins 1-0-1-0
After only facing off twice during the regular season, the Voltigeurs and Mooseheads will now square off for at least four games in their third-round series. Both teams made quick work in the second round, while the Mooseheads enter the third round riding a six-game win streak, including a four-game ousting of the rival Wildcats last round. Halifax is led by draft-eligible right-wing Raphael Lavoie, whose 13 tallies give him a healthy lead for first in playoff goal scoring. Meanwhile, the Voltigeurs bring a multi-pronged attack in Anaheim Ducks prospect Maxime Comtois, who captained Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, as well as Detroit Red Wings first-round draft pick Joseph Veleno, the first-overall selection in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft who finished third in regular-season scoring with 104 points.
Western Hockey League
(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
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.
(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
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. Between the pipes, the Chiefs turn to solid netminder Bailey Brkin, while the Giants bring an intriguing tandem of Trent Miner and David Tendeck.
Ontario Hockey League
(1) Ottawa 67’s (50-12-2-4) vs. (3) Oshawa Generals (44-20-4-0)
Season Series: Ottawa wins 5-1-1-1
The 67’s remain perfect in the postseason after handing the Wolves a four-game exit, a series in which leading point-getter Ty Felhaber found his offensive spark after going without a goal in the quarter-final. In all, the Dallas Stars prospect wrapped up the series with six goals and three assists in four games, including a hat-trick in the series opener. His most crucial marker, however, came in the deciding game when he potted the winner midway through the third overtime session to seal the victory for the 67’s. Entering the conference final, the 67’s Michael DiPietro will go head-to-head with Oshawa’s Kyle Keyser, a Boston Bruins prospect whose 2.09 goals-against average and incredible .943 save percentage in the playoffs leads the entire OHL circuit. Up front, the Generals are headlined by centre Brandon Saigeon, a fifth-round pick by the Colorado Avalanche who has recorded 13 points in 11 playoff appearances.
(2) Saginaw Spirit (45-17-3-3) vs. (4) Guelph Storm (40-18-6-4)
Season Series: Tied (Saginaw 2-1-1-0; Guelph 2-1-0-1)
For the first time since uprooting to Saginaw in 2002, the Spirit have advanced to the conference final following a six-game takedown of the Greyhounds in the second round that saw the team’s deadline additions in Florida Panthers first rounder Owen Tippett and Ryan McLeod of the Edmonton Oilers push the pace offensively. In all, Tippett recorded nine points over the six games, bringing his playoff total to 17 points, good for fourth overall in league scoring. As for McLeod, he put up seven points in the second round, including a four-point night in Game 2 in a 10-1 drubbing that earned him second-star honours. Meanwhile, the Storm will face off against a Spirit team that made big additions of its own, including Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, who was named the CHL Player of the Week after he notched five goals and five assists in four games.
Road to the Memorial Cup with Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino: