This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk chats with Brayden Hyland about his season with the Crusaders & his decision to join the Grant MacEwan Griffins!
A sixth member of the 2018/19 Bonnyville Pontiacs has committed to an NCAA program. Sean Thomson is heading south of the border to start his colliegate career as he commits to the Hamilton College Continentals. The Continentals are an NCAA Division III school who play in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
The Brooks Bandits announced on Saturday evening their 16th collegiate commitment of the 2018/19 season. Carter Wolski is heading to the ACAC to play for Red Deer College King becoming the second Bandit in franchise history joining the program following in the footsteps of Ty Mappin.
Photo via Calgary Mustangs
After two and a half seasons, the Calgary Mustangs are in search of a new head coach and general manager. The former man in charge, Tyler Drader has accepted the position of new head coach of the SAIT Trojans of the ACAC starting in the 2019-20 season. During his tenure with the organization, no team in the AJHL has turned it around more than Drader’s Mustangs.
Which second-round matchup in the west has been most exciting for you?
IAN SHEPPARD: For me, we haven’t seen the same sort of excitement that came with the round one upsets but for me, the series I’m most interested in has been the Blues Stars series. With the series tied at 2-2, each game so far has been one or two goal games. Not to mention the exciting finish to Game 3 with Patrick Maroon scoring late to win it, and Dallas bouncing back in Game 4 to tie the series.
This Series has been the closest with a total of 24 goals through four games. This series will almost definitely go to seven games with the back and forth action we’ve seen so far.
WYATT ZIEGER: In the West, it has to be the Av’s and Sharks.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I’ll break the tie here and go with the Blues and Stars series. There’s been thrilling finishes, games with lots of goals, games with great goaltending. It’s had a bit of everything. I also think the winner of this series will go to the Stanley Cup Finals so I’m really keeping a close eye on this one.
Which second-round matchup in the east has been most exciting for you?
IAN SHEPPARD: This one is a pretty easy one. The Islanders/Canes series has been really one-sided so far with the 3-0 series lead for Carolina, so I’ll have to go with Columbus and Boston. No one expected the Jackets to make it past Tampa, let alone sweep them. I for one didn’t think they’d have a chance to make it out of the second round after the first round upset.
They have found themselves in prime position to compete with Boston and potentially make a splash into the ECF and I’ll be tuning in all series long to see if they can do it! Excluding all of that, two games so far have gone into OT with three games being decided by one goal, and each team exchanging wins resulting in a 2-2 series tie. Talk about an exciting series.
WYATT ZIEGER: The East is an easy answer, Bruins/Jackets. Carolina has runaway on the Islanders but the other East matchup has been tighter than the lid on a pickle jar. Columbus has approximately 6 more wins than most would of thought to date and the Bruins who remain the most “obvious” cup pick haven’t pulled away at all.
This has all the makings of a seven-game series in what has been a sub-par 2nd round. I’m still excited to see how Carolina and New York plays out but I wouldn’t hold my breath Islanders fans.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: It’s definitely Boston and Columbus. It’s fast and it’s hard hitting. Both of these teams have goaltending capable of stealing a game yet they’re both capable of giving up five or six goals on any given night. I love that element of unpredictability. Like the Dallas/St. Louis series, I believe the winner of this one is going to the Cup Final, so I got my eyes glued to this series.
Who’s been the MVP of the playoffs thus far?
IAN SHEPPARD: It’s tough to argue with what Logan Couture has done so far in helping his team make it past the first round and into a 2-2 series tie with Colorado while leading the playoffs with 9 goals. But for me, it’s Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon leads the playoffs in points with 13 and has been a one-man wrecking crew all playoffs.
His six goals are second in the postseason only behind Couture’s nine, but he almost singlehandedly took down the Calgary Flames in round one and has so far scored three goals in each round. He continues to be a playmaker and a leader for his team, one that much like Columbus has over excelled the expectations that were laid upon them.
WYATT ZIEGER: There are a few deserving players as of today; MacKinnon, Bobrovsky, Couture, but it has been Jacob Slavin who has impressed me most.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I really like the way Logan Couture has stepped up with Joe Pavelski out of the lineup. He’s been the heartbeat of that Sharks team and that video of him yelling “that’s one” at the Sharks bench during their comeback against Vegas will be iconic in San Jose if they go all the way this year. He leads the playoffs in goals with nine like Ian mentioned so not only has he brought energy and leadership, he’s brought the offense to back it up.
WHO’S YOUR NEW FAVOURITE TO COME OUT OF THE WEST?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I used logic and numbers to predict the first round… I went zero-for-eight. So now Im throwing logic out the window. Are the Avalanche a one-line team? YUP! Do they rely on their powerplay? YUP! Is their goaltender proven? HARDLY!
I’m taking the Avalanche to come out of the west! Book it!
WYATT ZIEGER: In the west, it’s a bit more complicated, St.Louis and San Jose have the deepest rosters but the Avalanche have the best player left in these playoffs (MacKinnon). I’m going to go with St.Louis though. They have a strong D core, only 2nd to SJS but they have a balanced offence and solid goaltending.
IAN SHEPPARD: The Sharks. They’re easily the most talented team left in the West for starters with a nice mix of younger aged players to savvy veterans with the experience to win. Goaltending has been an issue for them with Martin Jones having a very shaky playoff so far. Even after the magnificent comeback in Game seven, Vegas was able to tie the game in the dying seconds, so there is a weakness there for San Jose.
But ultimately what puts me behind them is the momentum I think they’ll carry the rest of the way. Storming back to win that Game seven the way they did is something very few if any team can do. For me, that boasts a team with confidence. They were playing for their captain that night and I think this is something they can rally behind to give themselves an edge.
WHO’S YOUR NEW FAVOURITE TO COME OUT OF THE EAST?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I really don’t trust this Islanders team, but I also don’t trust the Hurricanes. I think that series could be a snooze-fest. So I will go to the other series and take the Columbus Blue Jackets. They have four strong forward lines, a strong and speedy d-core that can move the puck like crazy, and a goaltender who can be the best in the world when he’s on his game. CBJ to the Cup Final!
WYATT ZIEGER: I hate to give the boring answer but how could you not say the Bruins?
IAN SHEPPARD: The Islanders. I said it coming into the playoffs and I’m sticking with it now! I’m all aboard the Trotz train! Barry Trotz has his team playing as just that, a team. They have the firepower to put up points and they’re getting an outstanding performance from their goaltender. Robin Lehner has led the playoffs with a 1.47 GAA and a .956 SV% while being the backbone of his team.
I can see them moving past the Hurricanes in five or six games and I think the Isle would hold up well against either Boston or Columbus. With teams like Tampa and Washington now out of the playoffs, I could see a team like New York pave a way to the cup final.
OUTSIDE OF TB LOSING, WHICH FIRST ROUND RESULT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: The Islanders SWEEPING the Penguins stunned me. Straight up. I thought the Penguins would find a way to handle the Islanders, but the magic of Barry Trotz proved to be too much. That was the one series I was VERY wrong on. It’s a shame because I like watching Sidney Crosby play in meaningful hockey games.
WYATT ZIEGER: The most surprising for me is a tie between Carolina and NYI. This is the first time since 2007 that neither the Caps or Penguins will be in the 2nd round.
IAN SHEPPARD: The Avalanche eliminating the Flames. I wasn’t shocked to see Calgary lose the round even though I predicted to win it. But I really didn’t see them losing in five games. This was the best team in the West record wise and I thought they could make it past an Avalanche team with a thinner lineup. I was shocked by the lack of production from a few bigger name stars on the roster, like Johnny Gaudreau, and I did not expect Colorado to dominate the way they did through most of that series.
The series shifts to the Ice District in Edmonton as the Oil Kings will be the hosts for Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Championship. Edmonton was able to get the split on the road in Prince Albert which can only be seen as a huge win since Prince Albert only lost 4 times at home during the entire regular season. Dylan Myskiw and Ian Scott would get the starts in Game 3 as we expect those two will get the nod the entire series.
No love lost between these two teams, a very physical first half of the first period. No penalties either as it looks like the refs are going to let them play, a couple of interference penalties that probably could have been called but alas. We are letting them play. Edmonton has had the majority of the good chances in the first half as they’ve controlled the play and have tested Ian Scott. Haven’t been able to find the back of the net yet as Scott has been up to the challenge. Edmonton would control much of the second half of the period as well as they would end up outshooting the Raiders 9-5 in the first period. Very good home period for the good guys, sadly not much to recap, however.
Edmonton starts the second period all over the Raiders. Andrew Fyten literally looks like he got shot out of a cannon, throwing huge hits on the forecheck and beating everybody to the puck. A couple of shifts later the Oil Kings get rewarded as Vince Loschiavo walks in all alone and puts it past Ian Scott giving the Oil Kings a 1-0 lead. Quinn Benjafield and Trey Fix-Wolansky would get the apples. This would be the Oil Kings first lead of the series surprisingly.
Good things would keep happening for the Oil Kings as they would go on the powerplay after a Cole Fonstad holding penalty. The first penalty of the evening. Edmonton would get a couple of good shots on net but Scott would stand strong, killing off the penalty.
Seemed like killing off the penalty gave the Raiders some momentum as they would control the next 5 minutes of play, testing Myskiw. Myskiw would turn them away. That momentum would go away quickly those as Conner McDonald would rip it top shelf over Scott’s should after a slick cross-ice feed from Trey Fix-Wolansky, Vince Loschiavo would get the second assist. 2-0 Oil Kings, 10 minutes into the second period.
Vince Loschiavo would pile onto the lead 5 minutes later on the powerplay. Just watching this game, Trey Fix-Wolansky is by far the best player on the ice, he’s feeding everybody perfectly this evening. He would pick up his third assist of the night. Quinn Benjafield would pick up the second one as this goal would mirror the first one exactly. Huge period by the Oil Kings.
Matthew Robertson would keep the train rolling with a snipe from the slot going upstairs on Scott with 1:06 left in the second period. Andrei Pavlenko and Vladimir Alistrov would get the apples on this one as everybody is chipping in tonight.
Edmonton would literally get penalized 6 seconds later, a chance for the Raiders to gain some momentum going into the third period. They would do just that, however, it would have some controversy. Sean Montgomery would score with 0.2 seconds left on the clock, it would be reviewed but it would count. Raiders gain a bit of hope going into the third.
As expected the Raiders come out of the intermission putting all the pressure on the Oil Kings. It’s almost as if they are playing like a team down by three goals. Edmonton basically didn’t leave their zone for the first 8 minutes of the period. Both teams would trade powerplays but neither team would be successful. A very “boring” period of hockey as both teams seem to be playing for the clock to hit zeroes. Edmonton would get the crowd out of their seats though with a Josh Williams goal assisted by Jake Neighbours and Andrew Fyten. 5-1 Edmonton. Nice picture of the boys celebrating the goal taken by Spencer Love who had to take my spot at the game.
The Oil Kings would obviously hold on and defeat the Raiders 5-1 taking a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Championship, putting them 2 wins away from the WHL Finals. We’ll see you in Game 4, get your tickets at www.oilkings.ca and cheer on the boys from the Ice District!
Three Stars of the Game:
3rd – Quinn Benjafield
2nd – Trey Fix-Wolansky
1st – Vince Loschiavo
This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk is joined by Crusaders GM Kyle Chase to talk about the teams season & their next round of recruits.
The Edmonton Oil Kings find themselves in the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time since their Memorial Cup Winning season in 2014. They will be taking on a juggernaut in the Prince Albert Raiders who went 54-10-2-2 and scored 307 goals in the regular season. The Raiders took advantage of the Oil Kings during the regular season beating them 3 out of the 4 times they faced each other. Widely considered one of the best teams in all of the CHL, the Raiders are expected to win the WHL Finals and go to the Memorial Cup. Anything less than that for this team is considered a failure of a season.
Regular Season Series
Away – Home
PA 6 – EDM 3
EDM 5 – PA 6
EDM 6 – PA 3
PA 5 – EDM 1
The juggernauts of the WHL, the second-ranked team in all of the CHL, come into the Eastern Conference Final having an okay start to the playoffs. They dispatched the Red Deer Rebels in four games easily but were forced to go a bit longer against Saskatoon. They beat the Blades in six games, the Blades were a formidable opponent, and it’s safe to assume that some people think that the Blades are going to be the toughest team the Raiders will face in the WHL.
They are led in these Playoffs by Dante Hannoun who has 9-5-14 in 10GP as well as Noah Gregor & Brett Leason who both have 12 points in those games as well.
The Raiders don’t have the defence in my opinion that the Oil Kings do, but they have the pure firepower upfront to blow anybody out of the building.
Ian Scott has tended the net for the Raiders throughout these playoffs with a startling 1.81GAA and a .927SV%. Surprinsgly, with how good those stats are, they are worse than his regular season stats.
How can the Oil Kings win?
In my opinion, they have the better defence, they generate more offence through those defencemen, and that can be a difference maker in this series. They’ll have to play on their toes though; if they get caught in the rush, the Raiders can make them pay, every time. Trey Fix-Wolanksy needs to come alive in this series and put up a PPG pace as he did during the season, he cannot falter.
Dylan Myskiw found his stride in the second round and will have to play as he did against Calgary if Edmonton wants a shot at taking down the Raiders. I believe theirs a way that Edmonton can win this series, but they have to win one on the road in PA in the first two games. In my opinion, whoever wins this series will be representing the WHL in the Memorial Cup, so the stakes have never been higher.
I can’t wait to be there every night and you can to, get your tickets at www.oilkings.ca!
Game 1 – EDM @ PA Friday, April 19th, 7:00 PM.
Game 2 – EDM @ PA Saturday, April 20th, 7:00 PM.
Game 3 – PA @ EDM Tuesday, April 23rd, 7:00 PM.
Game 4 – PA @ EDM Wednesday, April 24th, 7:00 PM.
Game 5 – EDM @ PA Friday, April 26th, 7:00 PM. *
Game 6 – PA @ EDM Sunday, April 28th, 2:00 PM. *
Game 7 – EDM @ PA Tuesday, April 30th, 7:00 PM. *
If necessary *
If you’d like to join in the conversation, tweet at @KrauseArik on twitter, he’s always ready to argue about hockey!
1 – Which underdog do you think will advance past round one?
IAN SHEPPARD: The New York Islanders. The Isles have the higher seed so I guess it wouldn’t technically be an upset but with Pittsburgh’s playoff and cup experience, I see this as an upset. Before Game 1 I believed the Isle would find a way to upset the Penguins. Everything about their season so far has made me believe they are capable of more than a first-round exit.
The Penguins have always been that team that finds a way to make a run but to me, if any team has a shot to upset them in the first round it’s New York. The Isles won Game 1 in OT and were outshot 44-33 so I think it will be a long series but I see New York coming out on top.
WYATT ZIEGER: Everyone loves a first-round upset. I suppose the underdog list contains; NYI, CAR, COL, TML, DAL and CBJ.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Is Vegas considered an upset since they are the lower seed? I would like to say them, or Pittsburgh for that matter, but those don’t feel like true upsets to me given those two teams recent history of playoff success.
My answer will be the Maple Leafs. Speed and skill are the way the new NHL is played and in game one, you saw that on full display. When things shift back to Toronto, Mike Babcock can just roll Mitch Marner out against Zdeno Chara and watch his young winger fly around the ageing d-man. Game one allowed them to grab home-ice advantage, and I expect the Leafs to take advantage of that.
2 – Who was the most effective trade deadline pickup?
IAN SHEPPARD: It’s tough to say this early into the playoffs. That’s where I really measure which moves worked best. You could the flurry of trades made by Columbus were the best, with them sneaking into the playoffs and winning Game 1 against Tampa. But I’ll go with a bit of a dark horse and say Jake Muzzin.
That’s right Jake Muzzin! Why you ask? Well in Game 1 for Toronto he played just over 20 minutes and notched one assist, two hits and one block. So in an early playoff so far I’ll go with Muzzin, but I assume my answer will change the deeper the postseason goes.
WYATT ZIEGER: With his team ahead 1-0 over the Bruins, things are looking pretty okay for Toronto’s Jake Muzzin. He’s been as advertised for the Leafs and even picked up an assist in the W. Muzzin was severely underrated on the Kings and now being in the centre of the universe, on the biggest stage, the casual fan is starting to realize how good he really is.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: It’s Mark Stone! He notched a pair in the Golden Knight’s playoff opener but if you put that aside, I still think he’s been the best deadline pickup. Vegas got themselves a true top line winger and can afford to put him on their newly formed second line. He’s either going to get easier matchups if the other team focuses on Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith or he’ll create easier matchups for the teams’ top line. The impact he’ll have on their powerplay is massive as well.
3 – Which team benefited most from the draft lottery? (Chicago from 12 to 3, New York from 4 to 2, or New Jersey from 3 to 1)
IAN SHEPPARD: The obvious answer is the Blackhawks moving up from number 12 to three. But I’m going to say the Rangers. They moved up four spots just like the Devils but they’ll land Kaapo Kakko assuming the Devils select Jack Hughes. Chicago will still end up with a high-quality player at three, but the Rangers landing a player like Kakko when they could have been selecting 6th overall is a huge steal.
WYATT ZIEGER: This is a tough question but I’m going to look down the road and go with the Chicago Blackhawks.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: You could obviously make a case for all three of these teams because winning the lottery is sweet no matter what. But I will also say the Chicago Blackhawks. I think Bowen Byram is going to be a true top-pairing defenseman in the mould of Morgan Reilly, a fellow WHL product. He’s dynamic with the puck, has a smooth stride, and can control the game from the backend. Moving up from 12 to grab a player like Byram is massive.