The Western Hockey League continued with its Final Four shifting to the lower seeds homes in Kent, WA and Edmonton, Alberta. In Edmonton’s case, with the driving distance, they are playing a 2-3-2 series, so after Edmonton split the series in Manitoba with the ICE, they would play Tuesday and Wednesday with a Friday game before the series shifted back to Manitoba for game 6 and 7.
Out west, after splitting the first two games, the series switched to Kent, WA. Kamloops picked up the first win there with a hattrick by Logan Stankoven, whose final goal was an empty-net goal late in the third period as Kamloops won 6-3. Seattle outshot Kamloops 30-29, and both teams went 1 for 3 on the powerplay.
Seattle got that one back the next night in a nail-biter with a 2-1 overtime win. Seattle’s Nico Myatovic scored just past the 11-minute mark to get the win which knotted the series at 2. Seattle again outshot Kamloops 39-36, and Seattle was a perfect 1 for 1 on the powerplay with Kamloops just 1 for 4. The series now shifts back to Kamloops for game five and is guaranteed to be back in Kent for game 6.
Edmonton Oil Kings, on the other hand, whipped 55 shots at the ICE goaltender Alexander Gage who was able to stop 51 of them and allowed his team to take the game to overtime, despite only having 21 shots themselves. The game ended with Edmonton’s Justin Sourdif scoring just past the eight-minute mark and giving Edmonton the lead in the series.
Two days later, Edmonton faced Winnipeg, and again Edmonton triumphed. The 36-22 shot total for Edmonton saw both teams 1 for 4 on the powerplay. Edmonton picked up a 4-2 win and put Winnipeg on serious defense. The Scotty Munro champion Winnipeg ICE who have run ruck shod over teams this year, saw Edmonton take the season series and is poised to take the round 3 battle very soon. They could take the series still in Edmonton.
In the OHL, Hamilton Bulldogs have a stranglehold on the seven-game series with a 3-0 lead. After a 5-2 win, Hamilton rattled off a 5-0 thrashing and a 6-4 win, which they secured on an empty-net goal.
The Flint Firebirds hold a tight 2-1 series lead on the Windsor Spitfires. After Flint took the first game 4-3, Windsor blasted the Firebirds 7-2, only to see Flint take a 6-3 game at home.
In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Charlottetown Islanders shellacked the Sherbrooke Phoenix 7-2 even though they were outshot 34-33. Neither team scored on the four powerplays afforded them each.
The next night the Phoenix knotted the series with a 4-3 overtime win. Sherbrooke scored three consecutive times in the first period, including the only powerplay of the game. Charlottetown scored once in the second and twice in the third as they pulled netminder Francesco Lapenna for the extra attacker. Xavier Simoneau tipped in a Lucas Cormier shot from the blueline to send the game to overtime.
Joshua Roy ended things for Sherbrooke with Julien Anctil finding the tape in front of the net. Sherbrooke outshot Charlottetown 35-33, with Sherbrooke 1 for 2 on the powerplay versus 0-3 for Charlottetown. The series, now tied, will head back to Sherbrooke for games 3 and 4.
The Quebec Ramparts edged Shawinigan Cataractes 3-2 in a tight game with a 30-27 shot advantage for Quebec. The Cataractes scored once on the powerplay in three tries, with Quebec blanked on their three attempts.
The next night was an extremely defensive battle. Quebec held a 30-29 shot differential advantage, with neither team scoring on the powerplay. Shawinigan was 0 for 4, with Quebec 0-2. Both teams scored nothing in the first, second, or third, and the game headed to overtime. Shawinigan’s Xavier Bourgault finally got one past William Rosseau to end the game. Antoine Coulombe takes the shutout and ties the series, now heading to Shawinigan.
The host of the Memorial Cup, Saint John Sea Dogs, who were 47-17-1-3 and had rattled off 15 straight wins, fired their coach ahead of the Memorial Cup. Gardiner MacDougall takes over from Gordie Dwyer, who did well during the season but lost three straight in the first round of the playoffs. MacDougall comes from the University of New Brunswick, where he has been a significant force in hockey since 2000. Also added was Rocky Thompson, who was a former San Jose Sharks Associate Coach as a Memorial Cup Advisor. Rocky was the coach of the 2017 Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires. Though the Spitfires were eliminated in the first round of the OHL Playoffs, as hosts of the Memorial Cup, they won the Cup.
It will be interesting to see if the additions will give Saint John an advantage in the Memorial Cup, which starts June 20.