What We’re Watching – March 17, 2023

Only three golden tickets remain for the 2023 WHL Playoffs, and we’re getting closer to finding out our first-round matchups with the start of the post-season just two weeks away.

With that said here’s What We’re Watching this weekend!

The rinks will be packed all weekend in Saskatchewan, as the Regina Pats, Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades are all at or nearing capacity crowds for this weekend’s home games. The Pats and Warriors begin a home-and-home set Friday in Regina (7:00 p.m. MT, Brandt Centre), continuing Saturday in Moose Jaw (7:00 p.m. MT, Moose Jaw Events Centre), while in Saskatoon, the Blades are expecting a crowd north of 15,000 fans when the Blades host the Pats Sunday (4:00 p.m. MT, SaskTel Centre). In Lethbridge Friday, the Hurricanes are likely to have more than 5,000 posteriors in seats when the Calgary Hitmen come to town, too (7:00 p.m., Enmax Centre).

It’s sure to be a big night in Portland Saturday when the Winterhawks and Thunderbirds complete a home-and-home set (6:00 p.m. PT, Veterans Memorial Coliseum) on Oregon Hockey History Night. Portland will be honouring its hockey past by wearing Portland Buckaroos throwback uniforms (the coaching staff will even be decked out in varsity-style letter jackets), while past Winterhawks Randy Heath, Cam Neely, Grant Sasser and Ken Yaremchuk will be inducted into the Club’s Hall of Fame, and Neely’s number 21 will be raised to the rafters. All four honourees were part of Portland’s 1983 Memorial Cup championship squad.

Entering Friday’s action, 13 of the 16 available places in the WHL Playoffs have been spoken for and a 14th could be locked up as early as Friday night. Regina’s magic number is three required points, which the Pats can reach with a win Friday coupled with a Red Deer win over Swift Current. Out West, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ magic number to secure the top seed in the Western Conference is at six required points.

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