Second round of WHL playoffs off to lopsided start

The Winnipeg ICE are continuing to roll in the second round of the WHL Playoffs. --Mark Peterson/Prince Albert Raiders

After a quick first round in the 2022 WHL playoffs, the second round is off to an even faster pace. Every second round series has a team holding a 2-0 lead in their respective best of seven’s, with the exception of the Edmonton Oil Kings who have a 3-0 series lead over the Red Deer Rebels.

The first round went by with just one upset, but it was the biggest one imaginable. The eighth seeded Vancouver Giants took down the top seeded Everett Silvertips in six games, becoming the first team in the WHL’s internet era to win a series as an eight seed.

The Giants aren’t faring as well in the second round, as they trail their series 2-0 to the second seed Kamloops Blazers. Kamloops took games one and two by 3-1 and 4-3 finals at home. The Blazers are one of just three teams in the playoffs who have still not lost a game this postseason. They swept their first round series against the Spokane Chiefs.

Joining the Blazers as the only other undefeated team in the Western Conference is the Portland Winterhawks. After sweeping the Prince George Cougars in the first round, the Winterhawks also hold a 2-0 second round series advantage over the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Shifting to the Eastern Conference, it’s been a tale of dominance in the case of the Oil Kings and Winnipeg ICE.

Edmonton breezed their way through the first round with a sweep of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. In the second round they were paired up with the Red Deer Rebels, who were chasing the Oil Kings all season long for the top spot in the Central division. However their second round matchup has been completely one sided up to this point, as Edmonton has a firm 3-0 series lead, with a chance to close it out with a sweep on Wednesday night.

Games one and two seemed enjoyable enough for the second seeded Oil Kings, as they emerged victorious by 4-0 and 5-0 scores on home ice. Game three on the road proved more of a challenge with a hungry Rebels team looking for a win on their own home ice. However, Edmonton once again came away with a 5-4 win in overtime, one that will leave Rebels fans with a bitter taste in their mouths.

In the other second round matchup in the East, it’s proving to be a similar story through two games between the ICE and the Moose Jaw Warriors. After pummeling the Prince Albert Raiders in four out of five games in the first round, the ICE have continued to show why they finished the season as the number one team in the league. 6-1 and 7-0 wins on home ice have catapulted Winnipeg to a 2-0 series lead, with all the momentum in their hands as the series shifts back to Moose Jaw for games three and four. The series can end as soon as Wednesday night if the ICE complete the sweep. The two sides go head to head on Tuesday night in game three (score unavailable by press time).

Aside from the Silvertips, who were dethroned of their top spot in the West, every team seeded in the top four qualified for the second round. With the way things are trending right now, the top two teams in the East (Winnipeg and Edmonton), as well as the second and third seeded teams in the West (Kamloops and Portland), are destined to meet in their respective Conference Final.