The 2022 WHL Championship is back, and ready to drop the puck Friday, June 3 in Edmonton. In this preview, WHL.ca examines the matchup between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle Thunderbirds.
The Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle Thunderbirds have taken distinctly different paths through the first three rounds of the 2022 WHL Playoffs.
The Oil Kings breezed through the Eastern Conference with a 12-1 record, earning four-game sweeps against the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels before dispatching the Winnipeg ICE in five games in the Eastern Conference Championship.
The road has been longer for Seattle, and the road has also been the Thunderbirds’ friend. Seattle got past the Kelowna Rockets in five games in the First Round, but found themselves forced to rally from 3-1 and 3-2 series deficits against the Portland Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers, winning deciding Game Sevens away from home on both occasions.
There’s a real sense of unfamiliarity between the two sides on the eve of Game 1 Friday (7:00 p.m. MT, Rogers Place). Edmonton and Seattle have not faced each other since October of 2019, and never before have the Oil Kings and Thunderbirds met in the WHL Playoffs.
There are, however, some acquaintances set to be renewed. Skilled forwards Justin Sourdif and Lukas Svejkovsky will stand on opposite sides of the red line in the 2022 WHL Championship three years after they were Vancouver Giants teammates against Kaiden Guhle and the Prince Albert Raiders in 2019.
Edmonton defenceman Simon Kubicek spent two seasons in Seattle silks, with Game 1 marking his first opportunity to face his old mates in a competitive environment.
The contests in Oil Country are certain to draw plenty of family and friends, too. No fewer than 12 players on the two sides hail from the Edmonton area including the leading scorers from both Clubs, Dylan Guenther and Jared Davidson.
The series features 15 NHL prospects and four first-round picks (Guenther, Sebastian Cossa, Kaiden Guhle and Jake Neighbours), while Seattle defenceman Kevin Korchinski (#7 – North American Skaters) is the highest-ranked WHL blueliner in the final NHL Central Scouting Rankings ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft.
Speaking of defence, both the Oil Kings and Thunderbirds boast talent and grit aplenty on the blue line. Guhle and Luke Prokop have turned into arguably the dominant defence pairing in the 2022 WHL Playoffs, while Seattle’s top four is led by new Winnipeg Jets signee Tyrel Bauer and Slovak Olympian Samuel Knazko.
Both Clubs have hoisted the Ed Chynoweth Cup in recent years and are certainly eager to do so again. Edmonton last claimed the WHL Championship in 2014, while the Thunderbirds have fond memories of a 2017 WHL Championship run.
WHL glory, and a berth in the 2022 Memorial Cup in Saint John, N.B., awaits the victor.
Edmonton Oil Kings: Dylan Guenther is, simply put, a catalyst for Edmonton. In 13 games, the Arizona Coyotes prospect has scored 13 times including six power-play markers. Guenther’s release is among the best in the WHL and he is ruthless when given time along the left flank on the power-play.
Seattle Thunderbirds: Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Lukas Svejkovsky has taken his game to another level since arriving in his home state, and enters the WHL Championship series second among Thunderbirds scorers with 24 points (9G-15A). Not only that, he’s gotten better as each series has progressed, scoring nine total points (2G-7A) in six Game Fives, Sixes and Sevens this spring.
Edmonton Oil Kings: Detroit Red Wings first-rounder Sebastian Cossa will carry the mail for the Oil Kings in the WHL Championship, he enters the series as one of four netminders with a sub-2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs. The product of Fort McMurray, Alta. is extra comfortable on home ice; he has surrendered only seven goals in seven home WHL Playoffs contests.
Seattle Thunderbirds: 2022 NHL Draft prospect Thomas Milic has captured the attention of NHL scouts this spring, landing on the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings, and leading his Thunderbirds to the WHL Championship series. The product of Coquitlam, B.C. posted a .926 save percentage in May. Six of his 12 WHL Playoffs victories have come on the road.
He has helped the @SeattleTbirds reach the #WHLChampionship for the third time in the past seven seasons, posting a .926 save percentage in the month of May.
2022 #NHLDraft prospect Thomas Milic is the WHL Goaltender of the Month!
Edmonton Oil Kings: Florida Panthers prospect Justin Sourdif’s game reached another level in the Eastern Conference Championship. The product of Surrey, B.C. was physical, and dazzled offensively with a pair of game-winning goals including a splendid overtime decider in Game 3 versus Winnipeg.
Seattle Thunderbirds: He’s overcome injury and adversity this season, and this week Thunderbirds captain Tyrel Bauer was rewarded with both a berth in the 2022 WHL Championship and an entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets. The product of Cochrane, Alta. oozes leadership, he leads Seattle with a +16 rating in 19 post-season games.
✅ Sign your first NHL contract ✅ Captain your junior team to the @TheWHL finals
^ – Seattle will be designated as the home team and receive last change.
Recent Regular Season Meetings Seattle (2) at Edmonton (6) – October 26, 2019
Edmonton (3) at Seattle (7) – October 13, 2018
Seattle (3) at Edmonton (1) – November 2, 2017
Through WHL Live on CHL TV, fans can enjoy every single scheduled game throughout the 2022 WHL Playoffs with the purchase of a WHL All-Access Pass at the low price of $59.99 plus applicable taxes and fees.
WHL Live – 2022 WHL Playoffs Packages All-Access: $59.99
Round-by-Round: $19.99 per round
24-Hour Access: $8.99
* all prices in Canadian dollars + does not include applicable taxes and fees
WHL Live on CHL TV is available to fans anywhere in the world, providing high-quality streaming of WHL games on Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV platforms, via mobile with iOS and Android, and on web using Safari or Google Chrome web browsers. Visit WHLLive.com for complete details.