The Canadian Hockey League playoffs began in earnest this weekend, with many great storylines unfolding. By and large, the favourites are winning handedly, while the tight fourth and fifth seeds are dividing their series evenly.
The one exception is the Calgary Hitmen - a team I predicted to win the whole Western Hockey League – who are losing their quarter-final series 2-0 to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Heading into the post-season Calgary had won 12 of their last 13 games, and collected a point in all of those matches. They were dominant defensively and offensively, rocketing up the standings with 107 points, the best record in the WHL.
That strong final push gave them the privilege of playing the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed, lowly Moose Jaw.
But the Warriors have had the Hitmen’s number thus far – dropping them 4-2 and 4-1 in their first four games. With the series moving to Moose Jaw for the next two games, things look grim for Calgary.
It’s a surprising turn of events. The Hitmen are the only team in the WHL to lose to a lower seed in the playoffs thus far. The other seven series have stuck to the script.
Goaltender Jeff Bosch is the key. He stopped 48 shots from tCalgary's attack in Game 1 of the series, and then turned away 29 in Game 2.
If the Hitmen have any hope of turning things around they’ll need to find a way to get past Bosch.
Friday March 19th 2010
QMJHL – Hinse has winner as Quebec nips Acadie-Bathurst in OT
Hinse had his second overtime winner in as many nights as the Remparts eked out a 5-4 result over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the first round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs Friday night.
Quebec had edged the Titan 6-5 in overtime Thursday night. (See more...)
OHL – Flick’s penalty shot sparks rally; Majors double Petes
Rob Flick's penalty shot got things going for the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors Friday night.
Flick scored on a penalty shot to spark a three-goal, third-period outburst and lifted Mississauga to a 4-2 victory over the Peterborough Petes in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series in the Ontario Hockey League. (See more...)
WHL – Giants rally for overtime win over Blazers
It took an extra period but the Vancouver Giants rallied to a playoff win Friday night.
James Henry's goal 33 seconds into overtime gave Vancouver a 4-3 comeback victory over the Kamloops Blazers in the first game of their Western Hockey League opening-round post-season series. (See more...)
Saturday, March 20th 2010
QMJHL – Wildcats blank Screaming Eagles; Riopel earns record
Nicola Riopel and the Moncton Wildcats won a statement game in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs Saturday night.
Riopel made 26 saves as the Wildcats mauled the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 6-0 in the second game of their quarter-final series. (See more...)
OHL – Whalers even up series with Greyhounds
Phil McRae and the Plymouth Whalers knew what they had to do to even their Western Conference quarter-final playoff series.
McRae had the eventual winner as the Whalers swam to a 5-2 win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in Ontario Hockey League playoff action Saturday night. (See more...)
WHL – Moose Jaw shocks Calgary once again
The Moose Jaw Warriors continue to surprise in the Western Hockey League playoffs.
Jason Bast scored twice, including the winner, to lead Moose Jaw to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Hitmen in WHL post-season action Saturday night. (See more...)
Sunday, March 21st 2010
OHL – Nesbitt’s hat trick leads the way as 67’s drop IceDogs
Thomas Nesbitt provided all the offence the Ottawa 67's needed Sunday afternoon.
Nesbitt scored three times, including the game winner midway through the second period as Ottawa tamed the Niagara IceDogs 3-1 in Ontario Hockey League playoff action. (See more...)
There’s only one more week of the Canadian Hockey League’s regular season, and it’s do-or-die time for several teams.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has 14 of its 16 playoff berths decided, with the Val-d’Or Foreurs, Lewiston Maineiacs and Baie-Comeau Drakkar vying for the two final spots.
With just 45 points and three games left in their season, the Drakkar seem like the obvious candidate to be on the outside looking in. They could still make it but they will need to reel off some wins.
The Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference is all settled, but in the East there are still three post-season spots available.
The Belleville Bulls are already mathematically eliminated, with one of the Peterborough Petes, Niagara IceDogs, Sudbury Wolves and Oshawa Generals joining them within the next seven days.
The Western Hockey League has the clearest picture of who is in and who is out. The Western Conference has been sorted out for weeks, while the East has only one seed still available.
The Swift Current Broncos have the inside edge with 73 points, put the Prince Albert Raiders (67) and the Regina Pats (65) are within spitting distance. All three teams have played 69 games.
By the time I check in for my shift on Friday, I expect there will be even more teams eliminated from playoff contention. It’s been a good, tight race all season, with hotly contested matches in every CHL league.
Friday, Mar. 5th 2010
QMJHL – Wildcats nip Saint John in shootout
The Moncton Wildcats delayed celebrations in Saint John for at least one more game.
Kelsey Tessier and Nicolas Deschamps scored in the shootout as the Wildcats disappointed the Sea Dogs 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night. (See more...)
OHL – Cowick, Toffoli and Lindsay lead 67’s past Colts
The Ottawa 67's got a big win off of their Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference rivals Friday night.
Corey Cowick, Tyler Toffoli and Cody Lindsay each had a goal and an assist as Ottawa knocked off the Barrie Colts 6-3. (See more...)
WHL – Weal scores twice as Pats hold off Hurricanes
Jordan Weal and the Regina Pats bested their cellar-mates Friday night.
Weal scored twice to help Regina double the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-2 in Western Hockey League play. (See more...)
Saturday, Mar. 6th 2010
QMJHL – Piche, Voltigeurs roll to 7-0 win over Val-d’Or
The Drummondville Voltigeurs continue to have one of the stingiest defences in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Frederic Piche earned the first shutout of his QMJHL career as Drummondville blasted the Val-d'Or Foreurs 7-0 Saturday night. (See more...)
OHL – Kadri stars for Knights in win over Sting
The London Knights are gaining some momentum as the Ontario Hockey League's regular season winds down.
Toronto Maple Leaf prospect Nazem Kadri scored in the shootout as London dumped the Sarnia Sting 4-3 in OHL action Saturday night. (See more...)
WHL – Ross leads Portland past Tri-City
The Kelowna Rockets only needed Adam Brown and Tyson Barrie Saturday night.
Brown made 26 saves for the Rockets, earning his sixth shutout of the season, as Kelowna beat the Vancouver Giants 3-0 in Western Hockey League action. (See more...)
Sunday, Mar. 7th 2010
QMJHL – Seas Dogs clinch best record with win over Mooseheads
The Saint John Sea Dogs locked up home ice advantage for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs on Sunday afternoon.
Mike Hoffman had a goal and two assists as Saint John beat the Halifax Mooseheads 5-2 in QMJHL action. (See more...)
OHL – Fowler stars for Spitfires in shutout of Greyhounds
Cam Fowler and Phillip Grubauer led the Windsor Spitfires as a familiar face returned to the line-up.
Fowler scored twice and Grubauer made 20 saves as the Windsor Spitfires defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-0 in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon. (See more...)