Calgary, AB – The 2012-13 Western Hockey League regular season continues to wind down, with less than two weeks left to play before the post-season begins.
Six Western Conference playoff spots are already spoken for while five Eastern Conference Clubs have locked up playoff spot thus far.
The WHL’s Eastern and Western Conferences will use a Conference playoff format.
The first place teams in the two Divisions in each Conference will receive the top two playoff seeds based on regular season points. The next six Clubs in each Conference, based on regular season points, will receive the 3rd – 8th playoff positions. The Clubs will be paired 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 5 in a best-of-seven series.
The first place Clubs in each Division will be guaranteed the top two playoff seeds in the first round. As in previous seasons, the format for the remaining three rounds of the WHL Playoffs will remain the same. The four Clubs winning first round series in each Conference will advance to the second round, where they will be ranked in order of regular season points. The Clubs will be paired 1 vs. 4, and 2 vs. 3 in best of seven series.
The two Clubs winning the second round series in each Conference will advance to the third round (WHL Conference Championships), where they will be ranked in order of regular season points. The Clubs will be paired 1 vs. 2 in a best of seven series.
The Eastern and Western Conference Champions will advance to the best of seven WHL Championship Series, with the Club having the most regular season points receiving home ice advantage
WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE
X denotes clinched playoff spot, *denoted Division leader
1). X *Edmonton Oil Kings 67gp-47-15-2-3, 99pts (5 games remaining)
2). X *Saskatoon Blades 67gp-41-22-1-3, 86pts (5 games remaining)
3). X Calgary Hitmen 67gp-42-20-1-4, 89pts (5 games remaining)
4). X Red Deer Rebels 68gp-38-24-4-2, 82pts (4 games remaining)
5). X Prince Albert Raiders 67gp-35-26-2-4, 76pts (5 games remaining)
6). Medicine Hat Tigers 67gp-34-30-2-1, 71pts (5 games remaining)
7). Swift Current Broncos 68gp-32-29-3-4, 71pts (4 games remaining)
8). Kootenay Ice 66gp-33-31-2-0, 68pts (6 games remaining)
9). Lethbridge Hurricanes 66gp-26-30-3-7, 62pts (6 games remaining)
10). Moose Jaw Warriors 67gp-23-34-4-6, 56pts (5 games remaining)
11). Regina Pats 67gp-24-36-3-4, 55pts (5 games remaining)
12). Brandon Wheat Kings 67gp-22-38-4-3, 51pts (5 games remaining)
The Prince Albert Raiders clinched a playoff spot and the Saskatoon Blades locked up the East Division title after Wednesday night’s WHL action, while the Edmonton Oil Kings inched closer to their second straight Central Division and Eastern Conference regular-season titles.
The Oil Kings posted their fourth straight win on Wednesday night, downing the Pats 6-3 in Regina, and remain 10 points ahead of Calgary for first place in the Central Division and Eastern Conference. One more point gained by Edmonton or dropped by the Hitmen will guarantee the Oil Kings the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Oil Kings wrap up their season-high eight-game road trip with stops in Brandon and Moose Jaw on the weekend.
The Hitmen edged the Raiders on Wednesday night in Prince Albert for their second win in a row, and moved three points clear of Saskatoon for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Hitmen, who will play four of their final five games at home, can lock up third place in the Eastern Conference with any combination of points gained or points dropped by Red Deer totaling 2.
The Blades weren’t in action on Wednesday, but still clinched the East Division title with the Raiders’ loss to Calgary, and are guaranteed the Conference’s second seed heading into the playoffs. The Blades close out their home schedule versus Medicine Hat and Regina this weekend.
The Red Deer Rebels widened the gap to six points over the Raiders for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with their shutout victory over Lethbridge on Wednesday, but remain seven points back of the Hitmen for the third seed in the conference. The Rebels can finish no lower than fifth in the Eastern Conference.
The Raiders may have lost on Wednesday to the Hitmen, but they still locked up a playoff spot after Red Deer beat Lethbridge. The Raiders are in Regina on Friday before hosting the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday.
The Broncos’ loss to visiting Moose Jaw on Wednesday keeps them tied with Medicine Hat for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. However, they slot into the seventh seed as the Tigers have more wins. The Broncos can clinch a playoff spot with any combination of points gained or points dropped by Lethbridge totaling 3.
The Tigers play four of their final five games of the season on the road, where they are 12-17-2-1 this season. The Tigers kick off their final four road games with stops Saskatoon and Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday.
The Ice currently sit three points behind the Tigers and Broncos for a share of sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and remain six points ahead of Lethbridge for the final playoff spot in the conference. Kootenay holds two games in hand on Swift Current and one in hand on Medicine Hat.
The Hurricanes remain six points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference following their shutout loss to Red Deer on Wednesday. The ‘Canes head to Red Deer on Friday for a rematch with the Rebels, then visit Calgary on Saturday.
The Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings have all been eliminated from playoff contention.
WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE
1). X *Portland Winterhawks 67gp-52-12-1-2, 107pts (5 games remaining)
2). X *Kelowna Rockets 67gp-47-16-3-1, 98pts (5 games remaining)
3). X Kamloops Blazers 68gp-45-18-2-3, 95pts (4 games remaining)
4). X Tri-City Americans 66gp-39-24-1-2, 81pts (6 games remaining)
5). X Spokane Chiefs 66gp-39-25-2-0, 80pts (6 games remaining)
6). X Victoria Royals 66gp-32-27-2-5, 71pts (6 games remaining)
7). Seattle Thunderbirds 67gp-23-36-7-1, 54pts (5 games remaining)
8). Everett Silvertips 67gp-23-38-2-4, 52pts (5 games remaining)
9). Prince George Cougars 65gp-19-38-2-6, 46pts (7 games remaining)
10). Vancouver Giants 67gp-19-46-2-0, 40pts (5 games remaining)
Two playoff berths remain up for grabs in the Western Conference, with the first six all being accounted for.
The Portland Winterhawks inched closer to clinching the Western Conference regular-season crown with their 6-3 win over Everett on Tuesday, and now need any combination of points gained and points dropped by Kelowna totaling 2 to lock up the Conference’s top seed. The Hawks are also closing in on the Scotty Munro Memorial trophy, needing a combination of points gained or points dropped by Edmonton totaling 3 to clinch first place in the overall WHL standings.
The Kelowna Rockets padded their B.C. Division lead to three points over Kamloops with their shootout win over Victoria on Wednesday, and still hold a game in hand on the Blazers. The Rockets are set for a massive home-and-home series versus the Blazers on the weekend that could very well decide the B.C. Division winner.
The Blazers remain in third place in the Western Conference, but fell three points back of Kelowna following the Rockets’ win over the Royals on Wednesday. Kamloops has just four games left on their schedule, including a critical two-game set versus Kelowna this weekend.
The Tri-City Americans remain in fourth place in the Western Conference – one point up on Spokane. The Americans, who can finish no higher than fourth in the Western Conference, host Kootenay and Prince George on the weekend.
The Spokane Chiefs squandered a chance to move into fourth place in the conference after losing to visiting Seattle on Wednesday night. The Chiefs continue their home stand on the weekend, hosting Everett and Kootenay.
The Royals suffered their 11th straight setback with their shootout loss in Kelowna on Wednesday, and remain 10 points back in the race for fourth place in the conference. The Royals ready for a home-and-home series versus Vancouver on the weekend.
The Seattle Thunderbirds earned a big 4-2 win in Spokane on Wednesday, moving them two points ahead of Everett for seventh place in the Western Conference and eight points clear of Prince George for a playoff spot. The T-Birds will host the Cougars on Friday night for a game with massive playoff implications.
The Silvertips remain six points ahead of Prince George for eighth place in the Western Conference, but have played two more games than the Cougars. The Silvertips are on the road this weekend, visiting Spokane on Friday and Seattle on Saturday.
The Cougars snapped a five-game losing skid with a big 3-0 win over Tri-Cities on Tuesday, and currently sit six points behind Everett for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Cougars, who hold two games in hand on Seattle Everett, hit the road for their next six games, including stops in Seattle, Tri-Cities and Vancouver on the weekend.
The Giants were officially eliminated from playoff contention, meaning they will miss the playoffs for the first time since their expansion season in 2001-02.
BOB CLARKE TROPHY RACE
1. Brendan Leipsic, POR 64gp-44g-69a-113pts
2. Nicholas Petan, POR 67gp-45g-66a-111pts
3. Colin Smith, KAM 68gp-41g-62a-103pts
4. Ty Rattie, POR 58gp-44g-57a-101pts
5. Justin Feser, T.C. 66gp-41g-59a-100pts
6. Myles Bell, KEL 64gp-36g-51a-87pts
7. Michael St. Croix, EDM 67gp-36g-51a-87pts
8. JC Lipon, KAM 59gp-35g-51a-86pts
9. Curtis Valk, M.H. 66gp-42g-42a-84pts
10. Tim Bozon, KAM 65gp-33g-51a-84pts