Tonight in snowy Prince Albert, SK the Vancouver Giants officially kick off their quest for their second ever WHL championship. The Giants and Prince Albert Raiders will take the ice against one another tonight at 6:00 PM local time for Game 1 of the 2019 Rogers WHL Championship Series. For the first time since 2015, the top two teams ranked in the regular season are going head to head for the Ed Chynoweth Cup and this series marks the first time during these playoffs that the Giants have started on the road.
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PRINCE ALBERT RAIDERS
Head Coach: Marc Habscheid
Playoff Record: 12-4
Regular Season Record: 54-10-2-2
Last Game: A 4-2 victory in Edmonton on Sunday, April 28th in Game 6, clinching the series victory for the Raiders and helping them advance to the WHL Championship Series. This is the Raiders first time in the championship final since 1985.
Goals For/Goals Against: 54 GF/31 GA (+23)
Power Play: 12/53 – 22.6% (8th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 40/51 – 78.4% (7th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Noah Gregor (16GP – 7G – 9A – 16PTS), Brett Leason (16GP – 5G – 11A – 16PTS), Aliaksei Protas (16GP – 11G – 4A – 15PTS)
LEAVE IT TO THE ‘PRO’:
Aliaksei Protas is on some kind of roll for the Prince Albert Raiders. The product of Vitebsk, Belarus has notched back-to-back hat-tricks and has compiled seven points over the span of his last two games. His 11 goals through 16 playoff games have already matched his goal totals from the regular season where he scored 11 goals along with 29 assists for 40 points in 61 games. Protas is 6’5” and 192 pounds and was recently ranked #44 on NHL Central Scouting’s Final rankings list for North American skaters. He sits tied for second in team scoring trailing only Noah Gregor.
Earlier this week, 1999-born Calgary, AB native Ian Scott was named WHL Goaltender of the Year. During the regular season he went 38-8-1-2 with eight shutouts, a 1.83 goals-against-average and a .932 save percentage. During the playoffs he’s been equally as dominant going 12-3-1 with a .930 save percentage, a 1.85 goals-against-average and three shutouts. He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round (110th overall) in 2017 and represented Canada at the 2019 World Juniors in Vancouver.
NEW ‘LEAS’ ON LIFE:
It truly has been a wonderful season for 1999-born forward Brett Leason. The Calgary, AB native became a WHL superstar this season thanks to 36 goals and 53 assists for 89 points in just 55 games played. Leason accomplished all of that while representing Canada at the World Juniors in 2019. Leason was recently ranked as the #25 skater on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Draft Rankings list and is a lock to be selected in the early rounds of the 2019 NHL Draft. His 16 points have him tied for the team lead with Noah Gregor.
Head Coach: Michael Dyck
Playoff Record: 12-3
Regular Season Record: 48-15-3-2
Last Game: A 3-2 victory at home on Friday, April 26th against Spokane which helped the Giants punch their ticket to the Rogers WHL Championship Series for the first time since 2007.
Goals For/Goals Against: 58 GF/33 GA (+25)
Power Play: 16/45 – 35.6% (2nd in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 38/48 – 79.2% (4th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Bowen Byram (15GP – 7G – 11A – 18PTS), Davis Koch (15GP – 2G – 15A – 17PTS), Jared Dmytriw (15GP – 7G – 6A – 13PTS)
BYRAM TAKES PLAYER OF THE MONTH HONOURS:
For the second time in a span of four months, Giants defenceman Bowen Byram earned WHL Player of the Month honours. In nine April games, Byram notched four goals and six assists for 10 points. Coming into this series, Byram leads the entire WHL with 18 points in the playoffs, and comes into tonight having secured two goals and two assists for four points in his past two games.
STACKING THE ‘DECK’:
As good as Ian Scott has been for Prince Albert, Giants veteran netminder David Tendeck has been equally as impressive. The Arizona Coyotes prospect has gone 7-0-1 in his past eight stars and during that span he’s never not had a save percentage lower than .900. In that same span he has kept the opposition to three goals or less in all eight of those games. For the post-season, Tendeck is 8-1-1-0 with a 2.14 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage. Tendeck has not faced the Prince Albert Raiders yet this season as Trent Miner started against them back on January 24th at home.
VANCOUVER GIANTS NOTES:
- The Giants are 9-1 in these playoffs when they score first.
- When the Giants surrender three goals against or fewer they are 10-0-1.
- The Giants are 5-1-1 in one-goal games.
- The Giants and Raiders have each recorded three shorthanded goals so far in the playoffs.
- The Giants are 5-1-1 on the road so far in the playoffs.