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.
|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|
Current NHL Prospects
|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|
|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
|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)|
|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)|