Sunday, 3 May 2015

Wheat Kings to face Kelowna in WHL Final

  The Western Hockey League Final most predicted early in the season has become a reality.

  Madison Bowey and Dillon Dube had two goals apiece to lead the Kelowna Rockets to an 8-4 win over the Portland Winterhawks Sunday night, allowing the Rockets to claim the Western Conference Final four games to two.

  Kelowna will now face the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with the opening two games to be played at Westman Communications Group Place in Brandon on Friday (May 8) and Saturday (May 9).

  The series will follow a 2-3-2 format, with the Wheat Kings travelling to Kelowna for three straight road games before hosting possible Game #6 and #7 to close out the series.

  The full schedule for the WHL Final should be released by the WHL office on Monday.

  The series will feature the top two teams during the WHL's regular season, and teams that sport identical 12-3 records so far in the playoffs.

  Brandon finished atop the WHL's overall standings with a 53-11-4-4 record and 114 points while the Rockets were just two points behind and had a 53-13-5-1 record.

  The clubs met once during the regular season with Kelowna downing Brandon at Prospera Place on October 25th by a 6-1 score.

  It was a game the Wheat Kings' were stymied by Rockets' goaltender Jackson Whistle, who stopped 20 of 21 shots through two periods and 31 overall, and Kelowna pulled away with four unanswered third period goals.

  Before we get to the WHL Final on Friday and Saturday, it'll be a busy week for the Wheat Kings.

  On Wednesday, the Western Hockey League will hand out its hardware at an awards luncheon in Calgary.

  Five Wheat Kings are finalists for awards; Tim McGauley is nominated for Player of the Year; Ivan Provorov is up for Defenceman of the Year; Nolan Patrick is a finalist for Top Rookie; Peter Quenneville is up for Most Sportsmanlike Player and Kelly McCrimmon is a finalist for Executive of the Year.

  On Thursday, the WHL Bantam Draft will be held in Calgary.

  The annual selection of second-year Bantam players is into its 26th year, with the Wheat Kings holding the 21st and final pick of the first round.

Chaff...tickets for the first two games of the WHL Final go on sale Monday morning at 8 a.m. at the Keystone Centre box office (726-3555 or online at www.keystonecentre.com)...the last time (and only time) the Wheat Kings and Rockets played in the WHL Final was 2005, with Shea Weber and the Rockets prevailing four games to one over Eric Fehr and the Wheat Kings...thumbs down to our province's NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets, who sent out the below tweet shortly after Kelowna's victory over Portland Sunday night.  Looking back on the Jets' twitter feed, there has not been a mention of the Wheat Kings in at least the past week (and probably longer...I was just checking to see if they congratulated Brandon on making the WHL Final).  Maybe if Brandon had a Jets' prospect playing on the team instead of just playing in the same province, the Wheat Kings would get some love from their NHL neighbours.

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