By RYAN MCCRACKEN on April 27, 2021.
The Edmonton Oil Kings have claimed the Central Division banner for a third consecutive year following a weekend sweep of the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The 3-0, 4-1 and 3-2 victories pushed Edmonton to 17-1-0-1 on the season, 10 points ahead of Medicine Hat (12-6-0-1) with just four games remaining in the season.
“They’ve got some high-end players, probably a couple of guys will have a good chance to play in the NHL next year,” Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins said following Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Edmonton at Co-op Place.
“I think they’re well coached, I think they run really good systems, they got good structure and I think they compete really hard.”
Former Tigers forward Josh Williams played a key role in the trio of victories this weekend, logging three goals and three assists in the span.
Williams is now in his fourth WHL season and has won the Central Division every year – in 2017-18 with Medicine Hat, then each of the past three seasons with Edmonton following a trade at the 2019 deadline.
The Tigers will play a three-game set against the rival Lethbridge Hurricanes (8-10-2-0) this week – with road games Thursday and Sunday and a home game Saturday night – before closing out the campaign on May 6 at Co-op Place against the Oil Kings.
The WHL announced last week that there will be no playoffs this season, settling instead for four division champions based on regular season standings. The league also made some alterations to the schedule, cutting Medicine Hat down to 23 games instead of the originally planned 24.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are the only Central Division squad that will play all 24 games, while Medicine Hat, Edmonton and the Red Deer Rebels will play 23, and the Calgary Hitmen will get in just 21.
– – with files from Kellen Taniguchi