The 2016-17 WHL regular season is in the books and it took all 792 games to determine the match-ups in the first round of the 2017 WHL Playoffs.
Sunday saw Tri-City and Portland jockey for the third spot in the U.S. Division while Seattle and Red Deer got in one last post-season tune-up.
The puck will drop on the 2017 WHL Playoffs in just five days(!), so let’s wrap this up…
Spokane Chiefs (7) at Portland Winterhawks (2)
Spokane (27-33-8-4) // Portland (40-28-1-3)
Portland came into Sunday’s action one point up on Tri-City for the third spot in the U.S. Division which held with it a date with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the WHL Playoffs.
While the Chiefs are not playoff bound for the first time in over a decade, they jumped on the Winterhawks and built up a 6-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Kailer Yamamoto completed an impressive season in his NHL Draft year by notching three more assists to give the Spokane native 99 points (42g-57a) in 65 games this year. The elder Yamamoto, Keanu, finished his WHL career strong with a three-point (2g-1a) night. Jayden Sittler made 30 saves in the Chiefs’ net in the 20-year-old’s final WHL game as well.
Portland’s loss left the door open for Tri-City to overtake them, which they did in dramatic fashion. Portland will now head north to face the B.C. Division Champion Prince George Cougars in round one.
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) March 20, 2017
Everett Silvertips (5) at Tri-City Americans (6) OT
Everett (44-16-9-3) // Tri-City (41-28-3-0)
Down 5-3 with just over two minutes to go in regulation it looked like Tri-City would be the team to head to Prince George in round one, but late goals from Jordan Topping and Dylan Coghlan pushed the game into overtime and guaranteed the Ams’ the third spot in the U.S. Division.
For good measure, Topping completed a hat-trick 2:40 into overtime to send the Americans into the post-season on a winning note. Tyler Sandhu added a trio of helpers in a winning cause.
Mario Petit was under siege and made 39 saves in the Silvertips’ net while Brandson Hein picked up a pair of goals and an assist in the loss.
Everett will host Victoria in round one while the Americans now look ahead to a series with the red-hot Seattle Thunderbirds.
— Rob Jesselson (@RobJesselson) March 20, 2017
Vancouver Giants (1) at Seattle Thunderbirds (6)
Vancouver (20-46-3-3) // Seattle (46-20-4-2)
Speaking of the T-Birds, Seattle polished up for the playoffs on Sunday as they hosted the Giants.
Alexander True and Nolan Volcan each provided a pair of goals as the Thunderbirds cruised to the club’s 46th win of the year.
Vancouver will look ahead to a more successful 2017-18 season, while Seattle looks to continue their torrid run of late into the WHL Playoffs against the Americans.
The T-Birds were without the services of star forward Mathew Barzal on Sunday and will hope to have him available in time for the start of the post-season on Friday.
— Seattle Thunderbirds (@SeattleTbirds) March 20, 2017
Red Deer Rebels (4) at Edmonton Oil Kings (5) OT
Red Deer (30-29-9-4) // Edmonton (23-43-5-1)
The Oil Kings sent their fans into the offseason happy on Sunday with a 5-4 overtime win over their Central Alberta rivals.
Davis Koch had three assists for Edmonton to finish the season as the team’s leading scorer with 70 points (21g-49a) in 72 games – a 45-point improvement on his career high.
Fittingly, 20-year-old Riley Stadel scored the overtime-winner to cap off his WHL career.
Brandon Hagel had two goals and two assists in the loss for Red Deer as the Rebels get set to visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes to start round one of the WHL Playoffs next weekend.
— Edmonton Oil Kings (@EdmOilKings) March 20, 2017