WARRIORS HOST WHEAT KINGS, LIVE ON SHAW – Dylan McIlrath and the Moose Jaw Warriors (39-25-2-4) host Mark Stone and the Brandon Wheat Kings (31-31-1-7), for the first of two meetings between the teams on the final weekend of the 2010-11 WHL regular-season.
The contest will mark the final regular-season game at Moose Jaw’s legendary Crushed Can arena.
Friday’s contest between the Wheat Kings and Warriors can be seen live throughout western Canada on SHAW and SHAW Direct channel 299 (7:00pm CST).
The Warriors are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Wednesday night, putting a stop to a three-game winning streak, and are already cemented into fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Warriors boast a 21-12-0-2 record at the Crushed Can this season. McIlrath signed an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
The Wheat Kings have been idle since claiming a 7-3 win over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders last Saturday for their second win in a row, and currently sit one point up on Edmonton for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Wheaties have won just 10 games on the road this season. Stone (36g-66a) is tied for third in the WHL scoring race with 102 points, and is the first Wheat King to hit the 100-point mark since Eric Fehr did it in 2004-05.
Friday’s meeting marks the seventh encounter of the season between the Wheat Kings and Warriors. Moose Jaw won four of the first six clashes, with their only two losses coming at home. The teams will conclude their regular-season schedules on Saturday in Brandon.
Elsewhere on Friday night, Dylan Wruck and the Edmonton Oil Kings (31-32-2-5) host Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the Red Deer Rebels (46-16-4-4) for the first of two meetings between the teams to close out the regular season.
The Oil Kings are coming off Tuesday’s 8-1 thrashing of the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, snapping a three-game losing skid, and currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Edmonton boasts a 20-11-1-3 record on home ice this season.
The Rebels have been off since picking up a 4-2 win in Calgary over the Hitmen on Sunday, and remain four points clear of Medicine Hat for first place in the Central Division. Nugent-Hopkins is tied for third among all WHL players in scoring with 102 points.
In Kamloops, B.C., Thomas Frazee and the Kamloops Blazers (29-36-3-2) host Brett Connolly and the Prince George Cougars (31-35-2-2) for a critical B.C. Division battle on Friday.
The Blazers are coming off a pair of losses to the Kelowna Rockets last weekend, stretching their losing skid to six games, and currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference – three points back of eighth-placed Prince George. Anything short of a win on Friday will end the Blazers playoff hopes.
The Cougars claimed two wins in three road games last weekend to keep themselves in eighth place in the Western Conference. A win by the Cougars on Friday, combined with a Seattle loss, would clinch the Cougars a playoff spot.
In Lethbridge, AB, Cam Braes and the Lethbridge Hurricanes (23-34-5-8) host Cody Eakin and the Kootenay Ice (44-21-1-4) for the first of two weekend meetings between the Central Division rivals.
The Hurricanes’ playoff hopes were dealt a blow as an 8-1 loss on Tuesday in Edmonton combined with Prince Albert’s win in Calgary on Wednesday left the ‘Canes four points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Conference. The Hurricanes need to win both weekend games versus Kootenay and hope the Raiders lose both of their remaining games in regulation in order to force a tiebreaker for the final playoff berth.
The Ice are coming off a 4-1 win over the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Tuesday night for their fourth victory in five games, and currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Kootenay beat the Hurricanes in their only other two visits to Lethbridge this season – both times by a 6-3 score line.
In Prince Albert, SK, Mark McNeill and the Prince Albert Raiders (29-36-2-3) host Brad Hoban and the Swift Current Broncos (26-42-0-2) for a big East Division meeting on Friday.
The Raiders are coming off a 6-2 win in Calgary on Wednesday for their third victory over their last four games, and now hold a four-point lead for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. One more point gained or a point dropped by Lethbridge will put the Raiders in the post-season for the first time since 2006-07.
The Broncos are coming off a 6-0 shutout win over the Regina Pats on Tuesday night, snapping a three-game losing skid, and have already been resigned to finishing no higher than 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Hoban scored three goals on Tuesday night versus the Pats.
In Regina, SK, Jordan Weal and the Regina Pats (23-38-6-3) host Stefan Elliott and the Saskatoon Blades (54-13-1-2) for the first of a pair of weekend meetings between the division rivals.
The Pats fell 6-0 to the Broncos in Swift Current on Tuesday for their fourth straight loss, and were officially eliminated from playoff contention in the process. Weal has scored a career-best 40 goals this season.
The Blades edged the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors 3-2 in a shootout on Wednesday night for their seventh victory over their last eight games, and have already secured first place in the overall WHL standings. Elliott leads all WHL defensemen with 32 goals, and is the first rearguard to hit 30 goals since Kris Russell and Ray Macias both reached the mark in 2006-07.
In Spokane, WA, Tyler Johnson and the Spokane Chiefs (46-17-4-2) host Burke Gallimore and the Seattle Thunderbirds (27-33-4-5) for a key U.S. Division battle on Friday.
The Chiefs posted their eighth win in a row with a 2-1 shootout victory over the visiting Chilliwack Bruins on Wednesday, and currently sit one point behind Portland for first place in the division and Western Conference. Johnson (51g-60a-111pts) sits three points out of a share of the WHL scoring lead.
The Thunderbirds pulled off a huge 5-0 shutout win in Kelowna over the Rockets on Wednesday for their third victory over their last four games, and currently sit tied with Kamloops for ninth place in the Western Conference. The T-Birds need at least three more points from their final three games to have a chance at a post-season berth.
In Kennewick, WA, Brendan Shinnimin and the Tri-City Americans (41-24-2-2) host Ryan Howse and the Chilliwack Bruins (32-30-4-4) on Friday.
The Americans suffered a 2-1 defeat to the visiting Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night for their third setback over their last four games, but remain in fourth place in the Western Conference. The Ams have dropped five of their last eight games at home.
The Bruins suffered a 2-1 defeat in a shootout in Spokane on Wednesday, thanks in large part to a 77-save effort from goaltender Lucas Gore, and currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference. Howse shares the WHL lead in goals with 51 this season.
In Vancouver, B.C., James Henry and the Vancouver Giants (33-31-1-4) host Mitchell Callahan and the Kelowna Rockets (42-27-0-1) for the front half of a home-and-home series between the B.C. Division rivals.
The Giants dropped their seventh consecutive decision on Wednesday with a 5-3 loss in Portland to the Winterhawks, and now sit in sixth place in the Western Conference. The Giants will finish the season without a B.C. Division title for the first time since 2004-05.
The Rockets saw a five-game win streak snapped with a 5-0 shutout loss to visiting Seattle on Wednesday night, but have already claimed first place in the B.C. Division. The Rockets are 21-14-0 on the road this season.