Final Four In The WHL Playoffs Set, Portland Winterhawks Ship Alscher To Charlotte

As the WHL playoff season winds down, the teams that are out of the playoffs are busy with some players to tournaments, and others called up on what we call Amateur Try Out (ATO), which allows them not yet to pay a player as a contracted player so he could theoretically return to the Hawks. We’re talking about Marek Alscher, a European player who doesn’t fall in the same category as North American players. 

Marek signed an ATO with Charlotte Checkers, the farm team of the Florida Panthers. As he’s been drafted, he will attend their training camp in August. The Checkers are in the Calder Cup playoff, and he will remain there as long as they play.  

At 19, he falls into a weird void. Unlike players from North America, who must be 20 before they can be placed in the AHL under contract, European players can be signed and put into AHL at 19. It leaves the Hawks unknown whether Alscher will have played his last game in Portland. That will remain up in the air for the next couple of months. While learning the systems there, he will be under the eye of management, who will ultimately decide the next course of action. 

There will be several players in the next while as teams in junior leagues playoffs fade into darkness going on ATO contracts with AHL playoff-bound teams, especially those looking for contracts to go pro in the NHL. 

The final four have been set as Moose Jaw fell to the Winnipeg ICE 8-2 in Game 6. The Warriors had given the ICE two losses in their round, but after the 3-2 Overtime loss, it seemed the tank was empty. 

Meanwhile, Saskatoon did the unthinkable as they beat Red Deer 5-2. Saskatoon gave up the first two goals to the Rebels in the game and had to come back yet again. After all, the “Comeback Kids” nickname seems to fit the Blades very nicely. After falling behind 3-0 in the series, the Blades won the next four straight and became only the third team in the WHL to accomplish that feat. 

The Blades facing the Ice will match up the only two teams in the East with over 100 points. Winnipeg at 115 vs. Saskatoon at 101. The overall season series gave Winnipeg the nod 4-2, but this is the playoffs where anything can happen. The series begins Friday and Saturday in Winnipeg.  

Though I was off in games, the teams I picked did win, which helped a bit. This one speaks Winnipeg in a dogfight, but I’ll go the other way. The Blades proving their mettle in two seven-game series, have got to be tired, but they seem so resilient in their battles. 

Saskatoon it is, and in doing so, will give the ICE real woes in the future as they bled the draft picks dry at the trade deadline. 

Winnipeg boasts a ton of players who have been known to hit the twine. Connor Geekie, Ben Zloty, and Matthew Savoie had their share of ink on paper for their scoring punch. Connor Roulette, Egor Sidorov, and Trevor Wong have responded for the Blades. 

In the West, two teams will experience something they haven’t done all playoff season. One team will suffer their first loss. Not only that, but they will lose four games as well as they bow out to the WHL Championship. Both teams went heavy on trades; both spent a fortune on players as they went all in. Kamloops has assured a spot in the Memorial Cup, having bid on and the host of it. Seattle came close last year, losing to Edmonton Oil Kings. The Oil Kings had the worst record in the WHL this year, barely reaching double digits in wins at 10-54-4-0. This is what next year looks like for a couple of teams in their bare trade pick cabinet and with many overage players that they’ll have to pare a couple of weeks after the 24-25 season begins. The teams split the season series 2-2, with the first two games decided by a goal, and the final two games near the end of the season saw Seattle get a 6-3 win but lose the following night 6-5. 

The factors will be goaltending at both ends of the ice. Thomas Milic for Seattle and Dylan Ernst for Kamloops. Seattle will use Dylan Guenther and Brad Lambert as their snipers, while Kamloops uses Logan Stankoven and recently acquired Olen Zellweger. 

Even though Kamloops is assured of being in the Memorial Cup, they look to get the most mileage out of their draft closet cleaning. 

Kamloops will win the series, but it may have to go the full seven games to do it. Saskatoon may fall behind in the series, but it seems they are finding a way to win at all costs and, in doing so, will retake victory in another long series. At least six will be required to settle a winner.  

Saskatoon vs. Kamloops WHL Final? 

We shall see as the series starts this weekend, and game seven, if there is one, is set for May 9 should they go the distance.

Avatar photo
About Stuart Kemp 313 Articles
Stuart Kemp is the Immediate Past President of 15 years of the Booster Club. and has been following hockey from his native Canada since he can remember, though he can't skate, but played road hockey for several years. Loving hockey and professional wrestling, he has traveled to most of the WHL cities and with wrestling, has seen four provinces and five states. It is true that every Canadian city with more than 500 residents has a hockey rink, well at least it looks that way. Stuart has had his hand in every facet of independent Professional wrestling as he debuted as an announcer in 1986 which started his career.