Thunderbirds & Rockets to meet in first round of 2022 WHL Playoffs
The Seattle Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets will renew their rivalry once again when they go head-to-head in the first round of the 2022 WHL Playoffs.
The Rocket will have more information regarding tickets in the coming days.
The first-round matchup was confirmed on Sunday evening after the Kelowna Rockets fell to the Vancouver Giants in regulation by a 3-2 score and the Seattle Thunderbirds edged the Everett Silvertips by a 4-1 margin. Those two outcomes locked the Rockets into the fifth seed and the Thunderbirds into the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The 2022 WHL Playoffs marks the return to the Conference-based playoff format, which seeds teams from one through eight within each respective conference.
The marks the eighth time in the past 25 years that the Thunderbirds and Rockets will face-off during the WHL Playoffs. The two Western Conference foes last came together during the 2017 WHL Western Conference Championship – a six-game series that saw the Thunderbirds prevail before going on to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup and the franchise’s first WHL Championship in its then 40-year history.
The Thunderbirds owned the season series, going 3-1-0-0, with one of those victories coming via the shootout – a 2-1 decision back on December 7.
The last time these two teams got together, the Thunderbirds edged the Rockets by a 4-3 tally on March 1. The Rockets lone victory came on February 27 – a 4-3 decision at Seattle.
Veteran forward Jared Davidson, a 19-year-old product of Edmonton, led the scoring for Seattle in the season series, registering six points (1G-5A) in four games. 2022 NHL Draft-eligibles Kevin Korchinski (2G-3A) and Jordan Gustafson (1G-3A) also made their presence known for the Thunderbirds.
On the other side of the puck, it was Chicago Blackhawks prospect Colton Dach (1G-4A) and Czech import Gabriel Szturc (2G-3A) pacing the offense for the Rocketswith five points each over four outings.
Seattle’s keepers of the crease split duties in the season series, with Thomas Milic and Scott Ratzlaff seeing action in two games each. The soon-to-be 19-year-old Milic corralled two wins, logging a 1.93 goals-against average and .923 save percentage, while Ratzlaff – the 17-year-old rookie – went 1-1-0-0.
For the Rockets, 17-year-old rookie Jari Kykkannen secured the lone victory on the strength of a .925 save percentage. New York Rangers prospect Talyn Boyko, who joined the Rockets from the Tri-City Americans ahead of the 2022 WHL Trade Deadline, saw plenty of the T-Birds in 2021-22. In total, Boyko made six starts against the Thunderbirds, including three as a member of the Americans and three as a member of the Rockets.
Prior to embarking on the 2022 WHL Playoffs, the Thunderbirds will wrap up the 2021-22 WHL Regular Season with a pair of road games, taking on the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. PT (Langley Events Centre) before heading south to face the Tri-City Americans on Friday, April 15 at 7:05 p.m. PT (Toyota Center).
The Rockets will also face the Giants on Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. PT (Langley Events Centre) before returning home to host the Prince George Cougars to close out the Regular Season on Saturday, April 16 at 7:05 p.m. PT (Prospera Place).
Game 1 of the first-round series between the Seattle Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets is scheduled for Friday, April 22 at 7:05 p.m. PT (accesso ShoWare Center). The series will head north of the border for Game 3 on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:05 p.m. PT (Prospera Place).
|1||Kelowna||@||Seattle||Friday, April 22||7:05|
|2||Kelowna||@||Seattle||Saturday, April 23||6:05|
|3||Seattle||@||Kelowna||Tuesday, April 26||7:05|
|4||Seattle||@||Kelowna||Wednesday, April 27||7:05|
|5 *||Kelowna||@||Seattle||Friday, April 29||7:05|
|6 *||Seattle||@||Kelowna||Sunday, May 1||2:05|
|7 *||Kelowna||@||Seattle||Tuesday, May 3||7:05|
* If necessary