April 16th, 2024

WHL playoff roundup: Raiders split opening weekend with No. 1 seed Blades

By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on April 2, 2024.

PHOTO COURTESY NATHAN REITER PRINCE ALBERT DAILY HERALD Prince Albert Raiders centre Aiden Oiring wins a face off against Saskatoon Blades centre Fraser Minten in Game 1 Thursday at Saskatoon during their first-round series.


The Prince Albert Raiders kicked off the Western Hockey League playoffs with an upset victory.

The eighth-seed Raiders took down the Blades Thursday with a four-goal second period, leading the way to a 4-3 victory to open their first-round series. Ryder Ritchie led the way with a goal and an assist and Max Hildebrand made 41 saves.

Saskatoon bounced back with a 4-1 Game 2 win Friday. Egor Sidorov and Easton Armstrong each had a goal and an assist in the win and Evan Gardner made 31 saves.

Both teams have made a living on special teams, with Saskatoon tallying four power play goals and Prince Albert notching three with the man advantage.

The series shifts back to Prince Albert with Game 3 tonight at the Art Hauser Centre. Game 4 is Wednesday and Game 5 turns back to Saskatoon on Friday.

Broncos (2) vs Hurricanes (7)

Game 1: SC 3, LET 0

Game 2: SC 4, LET 3

The Swift Current Broncos have found early success on the back of goaltender Reid Dyck.

The 20-year-old Boston Bruins prospect made a combined 62 saves in Games 1 and 2 over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, with a 33-save shutout Game 1 win Friday and 29 stops in a 4-3 Game 2 victory Saturday.

Medicine Hat product Caleb Wyrostok scored in Friday’s win and Clarke Caswell added a goal and an assist. In Saturday’s victory, Ryan McCleary and Connor Hvidston each had a goal and an assist. Trade deadline acquisition Conor Geekie has scored in both games, recording the game-winning empty netter Saturday.

Swift Current has made the most of their special teams opportunities, scoring three power play goals for a 50 per cent rate, they’ve also killed off all six penalties.

The first-round series heads to Lethbridge for Game 3 tonight and Game 4 Wednesday.

Moose Jaw (3) vs Wheat Kings (6)

Game 1: MJ 7, BDN 4

Game 2: MJ 5, BDN 4 OT

Moose Jaw has started their first-round series in fashion, with the Warriors outscoring the Brandon Wheat Kings 12-8. Three different Warriors have two goals in the series so far, with Martin Rysavy, Matthew Savoie and Brayden Schuurman each finding twine twice.

Rysavy led the offence with two goals and an assist in their 7-4 Game 1 win Friday and Atley Calvert had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s 5-4 overtime Game 2 win Saturday, Lynden Lakovic had the game winner 2:15 into the extra frame.

Moose Jaw’s penalty kill has operated at 100 per cent to open the series, registering a shorthanded goal. The Wheat Kings have held the Warriors at bay on nine power plays, scoring a shorthanded goal in the process.

Games 3 and 4 of the series are back at Brandon on Wednesday and Thursday.

Western conference

Prince George (1) vs Spokane (8)

Game 1: PG 6, SPO 1

Game 2: PG 7, SPO 4

The Prince George Cougars’ high-flying offence has carried itself into the playoffs.

The one-seed Cougars lead the playoffs in scoring with 13 goals, one more than the second-place Warriors. They’ve found the success while only running at 25 per cent on their power play.

Prince George’s 17-year-old rookie Terik Parascak led the way in their 6-1 Game 1 win Friday with three goals. Ondrej Becher also had a goal and two assists.

Riley Heidt tallied three assists in their Game 2 7-4 win Saturday as six different Cougars found the back of the net. Former Medicine Hat Tiger Carlin Dezainde had a goal and an assist.

The series heads State-side for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Wednesday at Spokane. If needed, Game 5 will also be in Spokane before the rest of the series returns to Prince George.

Portland (2) vs Victoria (7)

Game 1: POR 4, VIC 3

Game 2: POR 5, VIC 1

Portland Winterhawks defenceman Luca Cagnoni has led the way from the back end, tallying three goals with an assist through the first two games of their series against the Victoria Royals.

Cagnoni’s two goals and Carter Southern tallying a goal and an assist propelled Portland to a 4-3 Game 1 win Friday. Goaltender Jan Spunar worked 19 saves and James Stefan found the back of the net twice in a 5-1 Game 2 win Saturday.

Portland has found success on the power play with three goals (37.5 per cent) while Victoria’s power play has been held to two goals and 22.2 per cent efficiency.

Games 3 and 4 of the series are in B.C., with Victoria hosting the second-seed Winterhawks on Tuesday and Wednesday. Just like the Prince George and Spokane series, if needed a Game 5 would remain at Victoria before Games 6 and 7 return to Portland.

Everett (3) vs Victoria (6)

Game 1: VAN 6, EVT 4

Game 2: EVT 2, VAN 1

Vancouver Giants rookie Cameron Schmidt has made an early impact in their first-round matchup with Everett, scoring two goals in a 6-4 Game 1 win Friday. Goaltender Brett Mirwald made 38 saves in the win over Everett.

The Silvertips bounced back with a 2-1 Game 2 win Saturday on the back of Austin Roest notching two goals. Mirwald made 53 saves in the loss for Vancouver.

The last time the two teams met in the playoffs, the Giants, who were the eighth seed, upset the Silvertips in six games. Ahead of the series, the Silvertips were announced as the winner of the WHL’s draft lottery and will pick first overall in the 2024 WHL draft.

The Silvertips also announced head coach and general manager Dennis Williams will be leaving the team after this season to coach the NCAA’s Bowling Green Falcons.

Games 3 and 4 of the series heads to Vancouver on Wednesday and Friday, with Game 5 Sunday at Everett.

Wenatchee (4) vs Kelowna (4)

Game 1: WEN 8, KEL 6

Game 2: KEL 3, WEN 1

Briley Wood of the Wenatchee Wild leads the WHL in scoring through the first weekend of playoff action. Wood had four goals and two assists in Wenatchee’s 8-6 Game 1 win Friday over the Kelowna Rockets. Kenta Isogai had a goal and three assists and defenceman Graham Sard recorded a goal and two assists as well.

Wood’s four-goal performance is the first time a skater has recorded four goals in one playoff game since Reid Gardner accomplished the milestone in 2017 as a member of the Rockets.

Kelowna bounced back with a 2-1 Game 2 win Saturday, with goaltender Jari Kykkanen making 21 saves. Defenceman Caden Price had three helpers.

Wenatchee’s power play is working at the highest rate in the playoffs, with four power play goals at 66.7 per cent. Kelowna’s power play has been held to 18.2 per cent and two power play goals.

The series heads to Kelowna for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to Wenatchee on Friday for Game 5.

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