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British Columbia takes top seed following round-robin phase of 2021 WHL Cup

Rob Wallator

British Columbia holds a perfect 3-0-0-0 record at the 2021 WHL Cup in Red Deer, Alta., as round-robin play closed out Friday.

B.C. secured a 5-4 overtime victory over Alberta in their final round-robin game to take hold of the top seed heading into semi-final Saturday. Oliver Josephson scored 3:36 into the extra frame as B.C. withstood a furious Alberta rally in the third period.

The British Columbians opened the tournament with an 8-1 victory over Saskatchewan Wednesday, following that performance up with a 5-0 shutout win over Manitoba Thursday. Evan Gardner turned aside all 18 shots he faced to secure the clean sheet.

Miguel Marques of Prince George paced the B.C. attack through the round-robin portion of the tournament, scoring four times and adding two helpers in three games played.

WHL CUP_Leading Scorers

Alberta, meanwhile will hold the second seed following a 2-0-1-0 round-robin. The boys from Wild Rose Country got past Manitoba 6-2 Wednesday before rallying from a four-goal deficit to knock off Saskatchewan 5-4 in overtime Thursday. Zane Saab of Edmonton led all Albertan skaters with five goals over the three games played.

Manitoba enters the semi-final round in third place following a Friday victory over Saskatchewan. Clarke Caswell broke a tie with 7:48 remaining in the third period to push the Manitobans to a 3-2 win, and a 1-2-0-0 round-robin record. Manitoba got their five round-robin goals from five different skaters, but no tally was bigger than the marker from Caswell, who hails from Brandon.

Saskatchewan will face British Columbia in the semi-final round after completing the round-robin portion of the WHL Cup with a 0-2-1-0 record. Centre Riley Ashe of Warman finished tops among Saskatchewan scorers through the first three games, registering four assists.

WHL CUP_Top Goalies

A pair of semi-final matchups beckon Saturday. First, top-ranked B.C. will face Saskatchewan (12:30 p.m. MT, Peavey Mart Centrium) before Alberta squares off against Manitoba (3:00 p.m. MT, Red Deer Polytechnic). The gold and bronze medal games take place Sunday.

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