WHL Roundup: Everett, Prince George earn banners as post-season picture comes together

The second-to-last day of the regular season had just about everything a WHL fan could ask for.

Once Conference title. Two Division titles. Two WHL Playoff series set in motion. Thirty goals between just two separate games. One player even had a SEVEN-point game!

If Saturday didn’t get you ready for the 2017 WHL Playoffs, well, you’re just not going to get there.

Let’s get started…

Regina Pats (6) at Brandon Wheat Kings (0)
Regina (52-12-7-1) // Brandon (31-31-7-3)

With four games slated for Sunday afternoon we can’t technically say Sam Steel has won the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL’s top scorer in the regular season. Okay, maybe we can. While he was held pointless on Saturday, Steel racked up 131 points (50g-81a) in 66 games this year. Unless one of Portland’s Cody Glass or Spokane’s Kailer Yamamoto are able to post nearly 40-point games when the two teams meet tomorrow, Steel will take the honour this season.

The reigning Bob Clarke Trophy winner gave Steel a run for his money though. Adam Brooks had a goal and two assists to get within one point of Steel and finish with 130 points (43g-87a) in 66 games this year, 10 more points than his total last year.

Jordan Hollett made 34 saves for his second shutout of the season in the Pats’ net.

Logan Thompson made 38 saves for Brandon who were without captain Nolan Patrick on Saturday.

Brandon will look ahead to their first round match-up with the Medicine Hat Tigers, while Regina is set to face Calgary in round one of the WHL Playoffs.

Swift Current Blades (5) at Moose Jaw Warriors (10)
Swift Current (39-23-4-6) // Moose Jaw (42-21-8-1)

With the two sides set to face each other in round one, the Warriors and Broncos let it all hang out in their final regular season meeting as the red lamp was lit a grand total of 15 times.

Brett Howden had an impressive night for Moose Jaw with a hat trick and two assists for five points, but Jayden Halbgewachs stole the show.

Halbgewachs registered seven points for the Warriors. SEVEN. The points were important, too, as the 19-year-old used four goals and three assists to eclipse both the 50-goal and 100-point plateaus and+ finish the year with 101 points (50g-51a) in 71 games.

Connor Chaulk had a pair of goals for the Broncos in the loss, who now get set to head back to Moose Jaw next Friday to begin their first round series.

Saskatoon Blades (1) at Prince Albert Raiders (5)
Saskatoon (28-35-7-2) // Prince Albert (21-44-5-2)

While the Blades were eliminated from playoff contention on Friday night, the Raiders have been outside the post-season picture for some time. That said, Saskatoon-Prince Albert to end the season is an undeniable tradition both sides can get up for.

Simon Stransky had two goals and an assist to pace the Raiders to a 5-1 win on Saturday to the delight of the Raider faithful in P.A.

The Blades lone goal came off the stick of Mason McCarty as the promising young squad now looks forward to taking the final step towards a playoff berth next year.

Kootenay ICE (1) at Calgary Hitmen (4)
Kootenay (14-46-10-2) // Calgary (30-32-8-2)

Buoyed by earning a WHL Playoffs berth on Friday night, the Hitmen used three third period goals to get past Kootenay on Friday.

Matteo Gennaro had a pair of assists to finish the season as Calgary’s leading scorer with 80 points (43g-37a) in 69 games.

Vince Loschiavo had Kootenay’s lone goal on Saturday as the ICE concluded a disappointing season.

The Hitmen now look forward to a stiff test in the first round of the WHL Playoffs as they will face the league’s top team in the Regina Pats next week.

Edmonton Oil Kings (4) at Red Deer Rebels (1)
Edmonton (22-43-5-1) // Red Deer (30-29-8-4)

Firmly planted in the Central Division’s third spot, the Rebels were outpaced by the young Oil Kings on Saturday.

Josh Dechaine turned aside 33 of 34 shots in the Edmonton net to be named the game’s first star while Riley Stadel added a goal and an assist for the visitors.

Lane Zablocki had the only goal for Red Deer as the Rebels gear up for a first round date with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Rebels and Oil Kings will meet again on Sunday to conclude the regular season for both sides.

Lethbridge Hurricanes (7) at Medicine Hat Tigers (8)
Lethbridge (44-21-4-3) // Medicine Hat (51-20-1-0)

Safe to say that if you were in the Canalta Centre on Saturday night you were entertained.

The second game on the WHL schedule that saw 15 total goals on Saturday, the Tigers needed a pair of goals midway through the third period to skate away with an 8-7 win.

Steven Owre had four points (1g-3a) for the Tigers on Saturday while Chad Butcher added another three assists to his team-leading 103 points (27g-76a) on the year.

For the ‘Canes, captain Tyler Wong eclipsed the 50-goal mark with a pair to give him 51 on the season. Wong added a couple of assists and finished the regular season with 109 points (51g-58a), good for third in league scoring.

The Hurricanes will get set to take on the Red Deer Rebels in the first round of the WHL Playoffs while the Central Division Champion Tigers will host the 2015-16 WHL Champion Brandon Wheat Kings.

Kamloops Blazers (2) at Prince George Cougars (1) SO
Kamloops (42-24-2-4) // Prince George (45-21-3-3)

The Blazers put a damper on the party in Prince George, but didn’t spoil it as the single point was good enough to earn the Cougars a B.C. Division title on Saturday. The Division title is the franchise’s first since relocating from Victoria 23 years ago.

Brendan Guhle tied the game for Prince George in the second period, but Dylan Ferguson was terrific in the Kamloops net with 47 saves and another six in the shootout to earn the win.

With the division crown, the Cougars will face either the Tri-City Americans or Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the WHL Playoffs. The point also set up an Okanagan showdown as the Blazers will face interior rivals Kelowna in round one – a first round bout that went seven rounds just a year ago.

Kelowna Rockets (5) at Vancouver Giants (2)
Kelowna (45-22-5-0) // Vancouver (20-45-3-3)

The Rockets needed a win and a Prince George regulation loss to earn the B.C. Division title on Saturday, but they only managed the one they could control.

One of the hottest teams in the WHL (9-1-0-0 in their last 10 games), the Rockets received five goals from five different players on Saturday. NHL Draft eligible Kole Lind notched his 30th goal of the season for Kelowna and a pair of points to be named the game’s first star.

Vancouver’s James Malm was named the game’s third star. The Giants will conclude the regular season Sunday in Seattle and look to use this season’s experience to rebound next year.

Kelowna will host the Kamloops Blazers next Friday to begin the first round of the WHL Playoffs.

Tri-City Americans (5) at Spokane Chiefs (4) SO
Tri-City (40-28-3-0) // Spokane (26-33-8-4)

The Americans secured at least the first wild card position in the Western Conference on Saturday with a shootout win over the Chiefs and still have a shot at the third spot in the U.S. Division on Sunday as they sit one point back of Portland.

Jaret Anderson-Dolan had a three-point night (2g-1a) while standout rookie Ty Smith added a goal and an assist for the Chiefs in the loss. Spokane will conclude the season on Sunday and will miss the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

The Ams’ Tyler Sandhu tied the game midway through the third period to cap off a three-point night.

If Tri-City is able to track down Portland on Sunday, the club will face the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the WHL Playoffs. If not, the Ams will travel north to Prince George for a first round date with the Cougars.

Portland Winterhawks (4) at Seattle Thunderbirds (1)
Portland (40-27-1-3) // Seattle (45-20-4-2)

The Winterhawks maintained their one-point edge over Tri-City for the third spot in the U.S. Division with a win over Seattle on Saturday that also dashed the Thunderbirds’ hopes of a second consecutive U.S. Division title.

Colton Veloso had the game’s first two goals for Portland and added an assist while Cole Kehler was terrific, stopping 31 of 32 shots faced.

Ryan Gropp scored Seattle’s lone goal and set a career high in the process with his 35th of the year. The Thunderbirds were without star forward Mathew Barzal again on Saturday night.

The loss, combined with an Everett win on Saturday, put the U.S. Division and Western Conference title out of reach for Seattle. The Thunderbirds will now face either the Winterhawks or the Americans in the first round of the WHL Playoffs.

Victoria Royals (2) at Everett Silvertips (5)
Victoria (37-29-5-1) // Everett (44-16-8-3)

Finally, it was a big night for the Everett Silvertips at home as the club secured both the U.S. Division and Western Conference titles with a 5-2 win over Victoria and Seattle’s loss to Portland.

For Victoria, the loss relegated the Royals to the second wild card spot in the Western Conference which will pit the club against Everett in the first round of the WHL Playoffs.

The ‘Tips jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back with Kevin Davis’ three helpers leading the way. Carter Hart stopped 25 of 27 shots in the win.

Everett will conclude the regular season Sunday in Kennewick while the Royals will return to Vancouver Island to await the start of the WHL Playoffs next Friday.

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