A trio of league leaders have locked up playoff spots as they aim to claim CHL supremacy.
The OHL’s Ottawa 67’s were the first to clinch a playoff berth this season following a 5-2 decision over the Soo Greyhounds on February 2. The win marked the ninth consecutive victory for the 67’s, who have since won two of three contests to push their league-leading record to 41-8-0-0 and 82 points.
It’s a season of redemption for the 67’s who after finishing atop the OHL with 106 points a year ago exited in the final round of playoff action following a hard-battled series to an upstart Guelph Storm squad.
Led by key veterans including left-wing Austen Keating and defenceman Noel Hoefenmayer, plus standout draft eligibles like Marco Rossi and Jack Quinn, the 67’s bring a balanced attack that dominates in every zone as evidenced by its league-leading goal differential of plus-108.
The 2019-20 season marks the sixth consecutive year in which the 67’s have qualified for the postseason.
In the QMJHL, the top-ranked Sherbrooke Phoenix punched their ticket to the postseason on February 3 after a rival’s loss was the Phoenix’s gain, pushing the squad into a playoff berth for the sixth time in its eight-year history.
In all, the Phoenix have owned the top slot in the QMJHL for much of the 2019-20 campaign, currently sporting a 41-8-3-1 record with 86 points as the club looks to build on last year’s showing in which it advanced to the second round for the second time in club history before taking one contest in a five-game set versus the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Led by Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick Samuel Poulin, the Phoenix are the QMJHL’s most dangerous team around the net as they lead the league with 241 tallies, where Poulin is one of five Phoenix skaters to score 20 or more goals this season.
Rounding out the first-place clubs is the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks who on February 4 picked up a single point in a 7-6 overtime barnburner versus the rival Spokane Chiefs, giving the squad 77 points on the season and their ticket to the dance. The club has since won back-to-back games to improve to 37-7-3-4 and 81 points.
In qualifying for the postseason, the Winterhawks do so for the 11th year running, a stretch that has included four trips to the finals highlighted by an Ed Chynoweth Cup championship in 2013.
This year, Portland aims to build on last season’s five-game quarterfinal exit versus the Chiefs as the club is led by 2020 NHL Draft hopeful Seth Jarvis, a budding centre who ranks 14th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Report and who leads the team with 72 points across 46 appearances this season.