*This was originally posted May 27, 2022*
We are through the first four games of the WHL’s Western Conference Championship series and it’s now a best of three. Wednesday night saw the Seattle Thunderbirds tie the series with an overtime win on home ice over the Kamloops Blazers.
Both teams have won one and lost one at home, and have had moments of brilliance in the series, making it an easy one for neither side.
Of course, goaltending has been fascinating on both sides of the ice as both Dylan Garand (KAM) and Thomas Milic (SEA) have seemed uncharacteristically off for sizable parts of this series. That may seem silly to say about these two, but it just goes to show how fantastic both Garand and Milic have been for their teams.
While the Thunderbirds had come out in nine of their 12 playoff games coming into the series against the Blazers, they have not struck first in any of the four games in this round. However, they have still come out strong in the first period, just as they did in the first two rounds. After a seven-game series with the Portland Winterhawks, however, the Thunderbirds have not had must rest as they entered into the series against Kamloops.
The Blazers are a powerhouse team, and there was no doubt that the Thunderbirds were set to have another exiting series. Luckily for fans, there are at least two more games to go between the two teams.
Whichever team moves on to represent the Western Conference in the WHL Championship Series will have either the Edmonton Oil Kings or Winnipeg ICE as their next challenge. However, either team would be well prepared to take on either opponent.
To nobody’s surprise, Blazers forward Logan Stankoven has been the top scorer of this series (and the WHL playoffs as a whole), picking up an incredible seven goals to go along with one assist through four games against Seattle. Stankoven’s linemate Luke Toporowski has six assists, which makes him the second-highest scorer between the two teams in this round. Actually, for this series being all tied up, Kamloops has all three of the top-three scorers in the series, with Quinn Schmiemann having a goal and four assists to have him in third.
For the Thunderbirds, both Reid Schaefer and Lucas Ciona have one goal and three assists in the series. Lukas Svejkovsky has picked up three assists, but missed game four, while Henrik Rybinski has missed the last two games for the Thunderbirds, but the team has rallied and others have stepped up in both of their absences.
THUNDERBIRD TO WATCH…
Nico Myatovic from the Seattle Thunderbirds. He has looked like a different player in this series, specifically the last two games where the team has probably needed him most and he could factor into the rest of the series in a major way for Seattle.
BLAZER TO WATCH…
Does it really need said? Logan Stankoven may be the easy choice here, but he’s the one that needs to be said anyway. He’s had four hat tricks this postseason and has shown no signs of slowing down. He’s fun hockey to watch no matter who you cheer for.