Photo courtesy: Melissa Baker Photography
Whitecourt, AB – The Whitecourt Wolverines (3-0) will take on the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (3-0) in the second round of the AJHL playoffs.
This marks the fourth time in six years that these two teams will meet in the post-season and third consecutive year. The Wolverines hold a 10-4 record all-time against the Oil Barons in the playoffs as they have won the first three post-season series.
Both teams have yet to lose a game in this year’s post-season as the Wolverines swept the Lloydminster Bobcats in the first round, outscoring their opponent 11-3. Meanwhile, the Oil Barons made quick work of the Bonnyville Pontiacs in just three games, outscoring them 13-5.
Whitecourt Wolverines (3-0) (H: 2-0 A: 1-0)
The Wolverines finished the first round of the playoffs with the 3rd best power play by scoring 5 times on just 19 chances (26.3%), while their penalty kill ranked 6th after allowing 2 goals against on 11 opportunities (81.8%). The Wolverines were the second most disciplined team in the opening round with only the Calgary Mustangs taking fewer penalties. The Wolverines were in full control of the series as they never trailed for a minute and outshot the Bobcats by a total of 124-63.
The Wolverines return to the second round of the playoffs for a third straight season and fourth time in six years. Estian Coetzee led the way offensively in the first round as he piled up 7 points in just 3 games, scoring 2 goals and 5 assists. His line combined for a total of 5 goals and 10 assists through the opening 3 games as Liam Motley chipped in 1 goal and 5 assists while Brayden Labant scored 2 goals and 1 assist. Ben Evanish heated up in the final two games of the series registering 1 goal in game 2 and then exploding for a 3 point game in game three with 1 goal and 2 assists. Captain Ryan Grant was solid on the backend in not just his own zone but also on the offensive side picking up 2 goals and 1 assist. Between the pipes, Xavier Potvin was nearly unbeatable as he surrendered just 3 goals against on 63 shots in the first round and playing all 180 minutes.
Fort McMurray Oil Barons (3-0) (H: 2-0 A: 1-0)
The Oil Barons finished the first round of the playoffs with the 9th best power play scoring 2 goals on 15 chances (13.3%) and had the best penalty kill as they killed off 13 of the 14 penalties (92.9%) they took. The Oil Barons were given a scare in game one of their series against the Pontiacs as they needed a double-overtime goal from Jack Hamly to escape with a win. They would go on to dominate the Pontiacs in game two winning 7-1 and then a 3-2 win in game three punched their ticket to the second round.
The Oil Barons saw a balanced offensive attack in the first round as 11 different players found the back of the net and all but 5 players recorded a single point. Jarred White has the team lead in scoring with 2 goals and 2 assists while Curtis Roach had three assists to lead their defenceman. Rookie goaltender Chris Curr was pressed into action midway through game one after starting goalie Eric Szudor left the game with an injury. Curr was spectacular in the series stopping 73 of the 76 shots he faced going 3-0.
North Division Semi-Final Series Schedule: Fort McMurray Oil Barons(2) vs Whitecourt Wolverines(3) (Best of Seven)
Friday, March 16th, 2018 @ Fort McMurray (7:30 p.m.)
Saturday, March 17th, 2018 @ Fort McMurray (7:30 p.m.)
Monday, March 19th, 2018 @ Whitecourt (7:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 @ Whitecourt (7:30 p.m.)
Friday, March 23rd, 2018 @ Fort McMurray (7:30 p.m.) * If necessary
Sunday, March 25th, 2018 @ Whitecourt (7:30 p.m.) * If necessary
Tuesday, March 27th, 2018 @ Fort McMurray (7:30 p.m.) * If necessary
Regular Season Series: Whitecourt: 2-3-1 Fort McMurray 4-2-0
The Wolverines and Oil Barons traded wins back and forth in the first four games of the season series before the Oil Barons won the final two encounters in Fort McMurray to close out the season. The Wolverines failed to win a game at the Casman Centre this year. The teams played each other four straight times to conclude the regular season after the Wolverines won the first game at the Scott Safety Centre, the Oil Barons rattled off three straight wins.
Oct 27 @ Whitecourt 4-1 WCT
Jan 11 @ Fort McMurray 5-4 FM
Feb 23 @ Whitecourt 2-1 WCT
Feb 24 @ Whitecourt 4-2 FM
Mar 2 @ Fort McMurray 4-3OT FM
Mar 3 @ Fort McMurray 6-3 FM
Whitecourt – 6/28 (21.4%)
Fort McMurray – 4/29 (13.8%)
Whitecourt – Tyr Thompson 3g-4a-7pts, Ben Evanish 3g-3a-6pts, Stevie Bryant 1g-5a-6pts, Jaedon Leslie 2g-3a-5pts and Matthew Monk 1g-4a-5pts
Fort McMurray – Will Conley 6g-5a-11pts, Merritt Oszytko 3g-5a-8pts, Shane Fraser 2g-5a-7pts, Reed Morison 2g-2a-4pts and Jack Hamly 1g-3a-4pts.
Whitecourt – Xavier Potvin 2-0-1 1.98gaa .934svg. Tye Morin 0-3-0 5.02gaa .844svg
Fort McMurray – Eric Szudor 2-1-0 2.97gaa .903svg. Chris Curr 2-1-0 3.01gaa .889svg