With six of the possible eight Western Conference playoff spots already clinched by Tri-City, Kamloops, Portland, Vancouver, Spokane and Kelowna respectively, the final week of the 2011-12 WHL season will decide which of the bottom four teams will nab the remaining two.
As far as outcomes for each club, here’s a team-by-team shakedown of they’ll need to do to avoid an early golf season:
Victoria Royals, 53 points; 1 game remaining: The Royals currently cling to a playoff position with a game to go against Spokane on Saturday.
They can decide their fate with a win, which will all but guarantee them a trip to the post-season and, likely, that coveted 7th spot. Only if Seattle wins all of their final three games will the Royals not grab 7th with a win on Saturday.
However, if the Royals lose, they’ll still sneak into the playoffs as long as either Seattle drops 2-of-3 and or Everett falters in both their remaining games.
Everett Silvertips, 52 points; 2 games remaining: The ‘Tips will need to win both their remaining to games to help their chances. As of right now they are only two points ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds for that final 8th spot in the Western Conference, but the T-Birds do have a game in hand.
The head-to-head showdown on Saturday in Seattle will likely determine which of the two clubs avoid an early spring vacation.
Seattle Thunderbirds, 50 points; 3 games remaining: The aforementioned showdown Saturday against the their I-5 rivals should determine Seattle’s postseason fate.
However, if Victoria loses their last game and Prince George fails to pick up more than one-point in their final two games, the ‘Tips might be looking pretty.
Prince George Cougars, 48 points; 2 games remaining: The Cougars are the outsiders looking in as they currently sit in last place. However with two games left to go, P.G. can claw back into the picture with a pair of victories this weekend in back-to-back games against Kamloops.
They’ll need some luck too, because even if they win, they need either Everett to lose both their games or Seattle to pick up only one-point in their final 3.
Western League Warrior
Emerson Etem, 19, Medicine Hat Tigers: The third-year forward from Long Beach, California notched his 60th goal in just his 62 regular season game this past week as he tallied a total of 5 goals in three games to push the Tigers to a 2-1-0-0 record. It’s the first time any player has eclipsed 60 since Layne Ulmer pulled off the feat in 2001 for the Swift Current Broncos.
Etem is a former NHL first-rounder and property of the Anahiem Ducks.
Bartschi Recalled to Flames
As the saying goes, one man’s pain is another man’s gain.
The Portland Winterhawks are feeling that sort of pain after all-star forward Sven Bartschi was called up last week to the Calgary Flames to help the NHL club make a bid for the playoffs. The 19-year-old Swiss native has already scored twice in two games for the Flames meaning he probable won’t be seeing Portland anytime soon.
The nifty-playmaker had amassed 94 points in 47 games for the Winterhawks and was second, only behind Ty Rattie, for the team lead in points before the big club recalled him on March 7th.
It will be interesting to see if Bartschi does suit up again this season for the Winterhawks. That outcome however depends a lot on the failure or success of the Flames over the next month.
Top 10 Scorers
GM G A PTS
1. Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City Americans 67 58 73 131
2. Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks 67 55 62 117
3. Mark Stone, Brandon Wheat Kings 64 39 78 117
4. Jordan Weal, Regina Pats 68 41 75 116
5. Adam Hughesman, Tri-City Americans 70 48 65 113
6. Patrick Holland, Tri-City Americans 70 24 83 107
7. Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat Tigers 63 60 45 105
8. Michael St. Croix, Edmonton Oil Kings 70 43 58 101
9. Michael Ferland, Brandon Wheat Kings 66 45 49 94
10. Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks 47 33 61 94