#WHLPlayoffs Roundup: Wheat Kings win third straight to push Tigers to brink of elimination

Randy Feere/Medicine Hat Tigers


Regina Pats (2) at Swift Current Broncos (5)
Swift Current leads series 3-2
Game 6: Saturday, March 31 – Brandt Centre, Regina,Sask. – 7 p.m. MT

The Swift Current Broncos are one win away from advancing to the second round of the 2018 WHL Playoffs following a dominant 5-2 victory at home Friday.

Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes) led the way with a hat trick as part of a four-point night while Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) stopped 40 of 42 shots for the pivotal victory.

It was the Pats striking first in the game though as Nick Henry (Colorado Avalanche) made it 1-0 for the visitors 9:40 into the first on the power play as he went unchallenged in front of the net and buried the loose puck past Skinner.

Seven minutes later though, Steenbergen would tally his first of the night on a Broncos’ power play, picking up on the location of a deflected puck free in the slot and firing it past Kubic. Broncos captain Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) was set up for a one-timer by Steenbergen in the final minute of the opening period to give the home side a 2-1 advantage after 20 minutes.

Steenbergen added to the Broncos’ lead in the second as he regrouped from his first shot in the slot and was successful in his second attempt to put the puck on net, making it four straight power-play goals combined by the two teams to begin the game.

Goals from Sahvan Khaira and Steenbergen’s hat trick goal also featured in the second period as the Broncos jumped out to a commanding 5-1 lead after 40 minutes. The only offence in the third would come from Henry’s second of the contest as the Broncos bucked the series trend by winning the first game of the series when not scoring first.

Ryan Kubic stopped 28 of 33 shots in the loss while Kyle Dumba faced zero shots in 6:43 of action to close out the game.

Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) tallied three assists in the contest while Gawdin added a pair to make it a 10-point night between the Broncos’ top trio of Steenbergen, Gawdin, and Heponiemi. Four other Broncos found their way onto the score sheet with a single assist.

Pats captain Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks) had a pair of helpers in the loss. Two other Pats earned a single assist in the loss.

The Broncos will now head to Regina for Saturday’s Game Six with their first of two chances at advancing to the second round.

Brandon Wheat Kings (5) at Medicine Hat Tigers (2)
Brandon leads series 3-2
Game 6: Sunday, April 1 – Credit Union Place, Dauphin, Man. – 7 p.m. CT

The Brandon Wheat Kings used five unanswered goals to win their third straight game Friday, taking a three-to-two series lead over the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Ty Lewis (Colorado Avalanche) had a goal and four points, Linden McCorrister had a goal and three points, and Stelio Mattheos (Carolina Hurricanes) added a goal and an assist while Dylan Myskiw was sharp in net with 24 saves on 26 shots.

It was the Tigers who started strong in the first though as Ryan Chyzowski blew a shot top shelf past Myskiw for the only goal of the opening period, adding his second of the game 33 seconds into the second to double the home side’s lead.

The Wheat Kings were just preparing to pick up steam though as a defensive lapse opened up space for Lewis, who took the feed from Mattheos and cut the Tigers’ lead in half minutes after Chyzowski’s second goal. Eleven minutes later, 2018 NHL Draft prospect Luke Burzan tipped a point shot from Schael Higson to tie up the game heading to the third.

Just like the second period, the third began with a quick goal as Connor Gutenberg struck 19 seconds in to give Brandon a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. McCorrister potted his second of the series 105 seconds later and Mattheos added an empty-net goal to secure the victory with 40 seconds to go.

The three straight wins marked the first time the Wheat Kings had accomplished the feat since the 2016 WHL Championship Series, when they won Game One, Two, and Three against the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Wheat Kings will have their first of two chances to secure the series victory Sunday in Dauphin, Man.

Everett Silvertips (7) at Seattle Thunderbirds (3)
Everett leads series 3-1
Game 5: Saturday, March 31 – Angel of the Winds Arena, Everett, Wash. – 7:05 p.m. PT

It was a fantastic day to be the Everett Silvertips Friday as they pushed their regional rival Seattle Thunderbirds to the brink of elimination with a 7-3 victory in Kent, Wash.

Connor Dewar lead the way with a goal and two assists while Patrick Bajkov (Florida Panthers), 2018 NHL Draft prospect Riley Sutter, captain Matt Fonteyne, and Kevin Davis each added a goal and an assist in the victory.

A wild 62-second span in the middle of the first period saw Bajkov and Davis trade goals 38 seconds apart before Nolan Volcan got the Thunderbirds on the board with his second of the series. That wouldn’t be the end of the scoring in the opening period either as Dewar converted on a penalty shot in the final minute to give the visitors a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Everett’s scoring continued in the second as Sean Richards and Ethan O’Rourke each tallied their first goals of the WHL Playoffs to make it a four-goal lead after 40 minutes.

The Thunderbirds did their best to get back in the game in the third as Dillon Hamaliuk and Matthew Wedman responded with their first of the playoffs to cut things down to a two-goal game. Sutter’s goal would be the dagger though as Garrett Pilon (Washington Capitals) went down on a one-on-one and fed it to a trailing Sutter, who was wide open for his first of the series.

Fonteyne added the empty-net goal in the dying minutes to add the finishing touches on the victory.

Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) kept the Silvertips tied or ahead for the entire game, stopping 28 of 31 shots overall. Liam Hughes turned aside 29 of 35 shots in the loss.

Wedman finished with a goal and an assist for the multi-point effort.

The Silvertips will now have a chance to close out the series at home Saturday in Game Five of the series.

#WHLPlayoffs schedule for Saturday, March 31
Game 5 – Prince Albert Raiders at Moose Jaw Warriors – 7:00 p.m. MT (MJ leads 3-1)
Game 5 – Red Deer Rebels at Lethbridge Hurricanes – 7:00 p.m. MT (LET leads 3-1)
Game 6 – Swift Current Broncos at Regina Pats – 7:00 p.m. MT (SC leads 3-2)
Game 5 – Spokane Chiefs at Portland Winterhawks – 6:00 p.m. PT (POR leads 3-1)
Game 5 – Seattle Thunderbirds at Everett Silvertips – 7:05 p.m. PT (EVT leads 3-1)
Game 5 – Vancouver Giants at Victoria Royals – 7:05 p.m. PT (Series tied 2-2)

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