Monday, April 20, 2009

WHL Round-Up

Press Release

VANCOUVER BC - The Vancouver Giants were able to even up their series with Kelowna on Sunday night at the Pacific Coliseum. Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored at 19:35 of the first overtime as the Vancouver Giants defeated the Kelowna Rockets 4-3.

Evander Kane would score the only goal of the first period, one timing a Garry Nunn feed past Kelowna keeper Mark Guggenberger just five minutes into the contest. The Rockets would strike back early in the second stanza, as Ian Duval would score his third goal of the series off a feed from Mikael Backlund to tie things up. But before the period was over, the Rockets would get into penalty trouble, and the Giants would make them pay. First Mike Piluso and then Jon Blum would light the lamp for the G-Men late in the second to give the Giants a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.

The Giants seemed to have things under control in the third, that was until they ran into penalty trouble. With Pierro-Zabotel in the box for four minutes after high-sticking Tyler Myers, Jamie Benn would cut the lead to 3-2 with his first of the series. Late in the period, the Giants would cough up the puck and the lead as the Vancouver defense would give Cody Almond an uncontested breakaway late in the third. Almond would make no mistake and the Giants would head to their fifth overtime game of the 2009 Playoffs.

In OT, the Giants would carry the play, thanks in large part to two penalties taken by Mikael Backlund of the Rockets. The Giants would not score on the man advantage, but would continue to pressure the Rockets until late in the fourth period. Nick Ross would keep a clearing attempt in the Kelowna zone and slapped a heavy shot towards the Kelowna goal. After the puck careened off of bodies out front, Lance Bouma shoveled the puck at the goal and then Casey Pierro-Zabotel would answer his critics, stuffing the puck past Guggenberger for the game winner.

Tyson Sexsmith would once again be solid in goal for Vancouver and turned aside 28 of 31 shots in the win while Guggenberger would fall to defeat on Sunday despite turning aside 33 shots.

The series now shifts to the Okanagan for Games 3 and 4, with Game Three going Tuesday at Prospera Place in Kelowna.

Press Release

Calgary, Alberta -- The Calgary Hitmen have taken a 2-0 lead in their Western Hockey League Eastern Conference Final with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Brett Sonne's goal with less than seven minutes remaining in the third period lifted Calgary to a come from behind 5-4 victory over the Wheat Kings in game two of their best of seven series.

The series will now shift to Brandon's Westman Communications Group Place for games three and four on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. With the win, the Hitmen extended their playoff winning streak to ten games. For the Wheat Kings, Sunday's loss marked the first time since February 27-28th that Brandon has suffered back to back defeats.

The Wheat Kings, who jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead, entered the final period tied at three and managed to take a shortlived 4-3 lead when captain Keith Aulie notched a powerplay goal at the 8:56 mark.

The game's turning point may have come two minutes later when Ian Schultz deflected Alex Plante's blast from the point on what appeared to be a high stick. The Wheat Kings argued the point to the officials but the goal was allowed and that set the stage for Sonne's game winning goal minutes later.

In addition to Aulie, Jay Fehr - with his first goal of the 2009 playoffs - Matt Calvert and Brayden Schenn scored for the Wheat Kings, who outshot the Hitmen 31-30. For Schenn, the goal extended his playoff point scoring streak to ten games and moved him into a tie with Andrew Clark and Calvert for the team playoff goal scoring lead with eight.

Kyle Bortis, Joel Broda and defenceman Michael Stone, the older brother of Brandon's Mark Stone, also scored for the Hitmen, who had given up just three even strength goals during the entire playoffs before Sunday.

Tickets to games three and four go back on sale at 9 a.m. Monday at the Keystone Centre box office. Fans can also order by phone by calling 726-3555 or online at

QMJHL Round-Up

Drummondville 4 Rimouski 3

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

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