Rockets – Winterhawks WCC matchup opens Friday

in playoffs

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The WHL Western Conference Championship Series opens Friday, April 24 with the Kelowna Rockets facing the Portland Winterhawks.

The winner will advance to play for the 49th WHL Championship vs winners of the Eastern Conference final between Brandon Wheat Kings and the Calgary Hitmen.

The Rockets have reached the Western Conference Championship Series for a second consecutive year after downing Victoria Royals in five games in Round 2.

Kelowna now meets a familiar foe in the Portland, who took care of the Everett Silvertips in five games on their way to a fifth straight Western Conference Championship Series appearance.

Here’s a head to head look at the two teams over this season:

KELOWNA ROCKETS vs PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS

2014-15 Regular Season Records
Kelowna:                                  53-13-5-1, 112pts
Portland:                                  43-23-2-4, 92pts

2014-15 Head-to-Head Records
Portland:                                   3-1-0-0, 6pts

2014-15 Head-to-Head Top Scorers 
Rourke Chartier (KEL)               4gp-5g-2a, 7pts
Madison Bowey (KEL)               4gp-1g-3a, 4pts
Nick Merkley (KEL)                   4gp-0g-4a, 4pts
Chase De Leo (POR)                4gp-3g-1a, 4pts
Oliver Bjorkstrand (POR)          4gp-2g-2a, 4pts
Alex Schoenborn (POR)            4gp-2g-2a, 4pts
The Rockets made it through the first two rounds of the 2015 WHL Playoffs with little trouble as they swept the Tri-City Americans in Round 1 before knocking off the Victoria Royals in five games in Round 2.

In their first two series, Kelowna has outscored their opposition by a 43-20 margin. Edmonton Oilers prospect Leon Draisaitl leads the club in post-season scoring with 15 points (4g-11a) while Tyson Baillie has recorded 12 points (7g-5a) including four game-winners.

The Rockets have displayed a balanced attack as they have 10 players with at least two goals while five players have recorded 10 points or more through two rounds.

Defensively, Kelowna has allowed the fewest goals of all remaining playoff teams (20). The Rockets’ penalty kill has been stingy so far with only four power play goals against, for a success rate of 91.3%, a league best.

Kelowna has a decision to make in the crease as goaltenders Jackson Whistle and Michael Herringer have both been steady so far. Whistle has posted a 2.35 goals against average, a .914 save percentage and a league-leading three shutouts to earn six of Kelowna’s wins.

Meanwhile, Herringer boasts a 0.74 goals against average and a .957 save percentage with a pair of wins to his credit.

The Winterhawks return to the Western Conference Championship Series for a fifth consecutive year after they knocked out the Seattle Thunderbirds in six games before defeating the Everett Silvertips in five games.

Winnipeg Jets prospect Nic Petan had a strong series against the Silvertips as he registered 10 points (2g-8a) which included three multiple-point performances.

Petan has also scored a total of 19 points (7g-12a) over an 11-game point streak this post-season.

Regular season scoring champion Oliver Bjorkstrand leads all skaters in playoff goal scoring with 10 while his 18 points are good enough for third-best.

The Winterhawks and Rockets met on four occasions in the regular season with the Winterhawks winning three of the match-ups.

Look for the ‘Hawks to continue to count on rookie goaltender Adin Hill, who enters the Western Conference Championship Series with a .902 save percentage and all eight post-season wins.


Series Schedule

Date Game Away   Home Time (PDT) Arena
Friday, April 24 1 Portland @ Kelowna 7:05pm Prospera Place
Saturday, April 25 2 Portland @ Kelowna 7:05pm Prospera Place
Tuesday, April 28 3 Kelowna @ Portland 7:00pm Moda Center
Wednesday, April 29 4 Kelowna @ Portland 7:00pm Moda Center
Friday, May 1 5* Portland @ Kelowna 7:05pm Prospera Place
Sunday, May 3 6* Kelowna @ Portland 5:00pm TBD
Tuesday, May 5 7* Portland @ Kelowna 7:05pm Prospera Place

*If necessary

Current NHL Prospects

Kelowna Rockets

Player Position YOB NHL Club
Josh Morrissey D 1995 Winnipeg Jets
Justin Kirkland LW 1996 Nashville Predators
Leon Draisaitl C 1995 Edmonton Oilers
Madison Bowey D 1995 Washington Capitals
Mitchell Wheaton D 1995 Detroit Red Wings
Rourke Chartier C 1996 San Jose Sharks
Tyrell Goulbourne LW 1994 Philadelphia Flyers

Portland Winterhawks

Player Position YOB NHL Club
Alex Schoenborn RW 1995 San Jose Sharks
Anton Cederholm D 1995 Vancouver Canucks
Blake Heinrich D 1995 Washington Capitals
Chase De Leo C 1995 Winnipeg Jets
Dominic Turgeon C 1996 Detroit Red Wings
Keegan Iverson C 1996 New York Rangers
Nic Petan C 1995 Winnipeg Jets
Oliver Bjorkstrand RW 1995 Columbus Blue Jackets

 

2015 NHL Draft Prospects

Kelowna Rockets

Player Position YOB NHL CSS Final Ranking
Nick Merkley RW 1997 23 (NA Skaters)
Devante Stephens D 1997 116 (NA Skaters)
Joe Gatenby D 1997 174 (NA Skaters)

 

Portland Winterhawks

Player Position YOB NHL CSS Final Ranking
Adin Hill G 1996 4 (NA Goalies)
Paul Bittner LW 1996 26 (NA Skaters)
Keoni Texeira D 1997 143 (NA Skaters)
Evan Weinger RW 1997 161 (NA Skaters)