2019 WHL Playoff Preview: The Semifinals

The journey to the Memorial Cup in Halifax is entering the home stretch as the semifinal rounds are set in the OHL, QMJHL and WHL.

The tournament host Halifax Mooseheads are in one semifinal matchup out East as they face the Drummondville Voltigeurs, while the top-ranked Rouyn-Noranda Huskies against a Rimouski Oceanic side that features 2020 NHL Draft prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

Over in Ontario, two interesting matchups are taking place. The league-leading Ottawa 67’s are in the Eastern Conference final against the Oshawa Generals, who upset a Niagara IceDogs side that made a number of moves. Over in the Western Conference, the Saginaw Spirit have reached the semifinal round for the first time they moved from North Bay in 2002 and are facing a Guelph Storm side that erased a 3-0 series deficit to beat the London Knights.

That brings us to the WHL and my attempt to breakdown and predict the conference finals, which both begin on Friday night.

(Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert Raiders vs. Edmonton Oil Kings

Last Playoff Meeting: 2014 First Round (Edmonton won 4-0 – Only Playoff Meeting to Date – The Oil Kings also won a tiebreaker game in 2009 by a score of 2-1 in overtime)

Season Series:Prince Albert 3-1 (Raiders outscored Oil Kings 20-15)

Season Series Scoring Leader

Prince Albert – Noah Gregor – 8 points (Cole Fonstad and Brett Leason had 7 points each)

Edmonton – Trey Fix-Wolansky – 7 points (Conner McDonald had 6 points)

Season Series Goaltending Leader

Prince Albert – Ian Scott – 2-1 with a 3.27 GAA and a .897 save percentage

Edmonton – Todd Scott – 1-2 with a 4.62 GAA and a .883 save percentage (Dylan Myskiw was 0-1 with a 5.04 GAA and a .853 save percentage)

Prediction: Prince Albert in six

At the start of the season, Brett Leason and Trey Fix-Wolansky were battling it out for the WHL scoring lead. While those two remain top attractions, the depth that each team has been on full display so far in the playoffs and should be again in this series.

Seeing how the Raiders were able to slow down the Blades over the last two games on offence, that’s convinced to pick them to reach their first league final since 1985. However, don’t sleep on the Oil Kings, especially if Dylan Myskiw can continue his excellent form in goal.

(Colin Mulvaey/The Spokesman-Review)

Vancouver Giants vs. Spokane Chiefs

Last Playoff Meeting: 2012 First Round (Spokane won 4-2 – Vancouver last defeated Spokane 4-3 in the 2009 Quarter-Final)

Season Series: Vancouver 3-1 (Vancouver outscored Spokane 17-16)

Season Series Scoring Leader

Vancouver – Jared Dmytriw – 5 points (Davis Koch and Milos Roman had 4 points each)

Spokane – Riley Woods – 6 points (Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Adam Beckman, Luc Smith, Ty Smith and Eli Zummack had 4 points each)

Season Series Goaltending Leader

Vancouver – David Tendeck – 2-0 with a 3.88 GAA and a .843 save percentage (Trent Miner was 1-1 with a 4.13 GAA and a .833 save percentage)

Spokane – Bailey Brkin – 1-1 with a 3.03 GAA and a .915 save percentage

Prediction: Spokane in seven

Like the Oil Kings and the Raiders, the depth that the Giants have had has been really impressive so far in the post-season, especially when they have two of the league’s top scorers in Davis Koch and Bowen Byram. With veterans and youngsters alike stepping forward, it’s tough to try and stop anyone in their lineup. Plus, it’s always good when you have a two-headed monster in goal with Trent Miner and David Tendeck.

So why am I taking the Chiefs? Well, they have finally lived up to a bit to the expectations I had for them at the start of the campaign, especially with their upsets of Portland and Everett span.

With a number of players contributing, two of the most dynamic players in the series in Ty Smith and Jared Anderson-Dolan on their roster and some excellent netminding from Bailey Brkin, it’s getting harder and harder to bet against them.