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Jackson’s 5 Matchups For The Weekend Junior Hockey News

Published: Friday, 20 Apr 2018  
By: Kerry Jackson

The BCHL crowned its Fred Page Cup champion Thursday night -- congratulations to the Wenatchee Wild -- but there’s still plenty of intense, top-flight junior hockey to be played all across North America.

Western Hockey League

Tri-City Americans at Everett Silvertips Friday at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time. There is admittedly a bit of pro-American bias with this choice. But when the United States Hockey League places more players on the NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings than any junior league in the world, the BCHL champions are an American team, and two U.S. teams -- one is even called the “Americans” -- are playing each other in the semifinals of what is arguably Canada’s premier junior league, it is a good moment for the sport. When hockey makes progress in America, hockey makes progress everywhere.

Ontario Hockey League

Kitchener Rangers and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Friday and Saturday at 7:07 p.m. Eastern. The Greyhounds are the best junior hockey team on the planet, having lost only seven of 68 games in regulation during the regular season. All they did is lead the league in scoring with 317 goals, 18 more than the Sarnia Sting, which had the second-highest total, and allow the fewest, 186, which was 16 better than the Kingston Frontenacs. But if the Greyhounds are to complete a nearly flawless season, they first have to get past the Rangers in the Western Conference finals, which begin this weekend. Despite Soo’s perceived advantage, Steve McLean, co-host of the podcast OHL Fanboys, says “I'm starting to think it's going to be closer than some people might have thought."

North American Hockey League

Aberdeen Wings at Minot Minotauros Friday and Saturday at 7:35 Central. The Minotauros stole home-ice advantage from the top-seeded Wings by splitting the first two games in Aberdeen in this Robertson Cup first-round series. The Wings will of course be looking to steal it back. It’s a three-game series now, which means every shift will be an intense struggle. As the Wings’ center Nic Sicoly has said, “Sometimes one bounce, one goal can mean the game.”

Northeast Generals and Philadelphia Rebels Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Eastern. The Generals lost at home 4-3 in overtime Thursday night as the Rebels tied the series at 2-2. But Northeast has driven Philadelphia, the top seed in the East Division and one of the strongest teams in the league, to the brink and can complete the upset with a road win.

Alberta Junior Hockey League

Spruce Grove Saints at Okotoks Oilers Friday at 7 p.m. Mountain time. Spruce Grove, up 3-1, can take the AJHL’s Interline Cup with a win on the road. If the Saints can’t close it out, they’ll try again Sunday at home at 7 p.m. This is not some third-rate league that doesn’t deserve a second look. MyHockeyRankings say these are the two best Junior A teams in Canada, so this title has significant meaning.

Author: Kerry Jackson
Jackson is a longtime journalist and consultant to the Heisler Group who looks for talented West Coast players who need solid hockey advice.

* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Kerry Jackson, and not necessarily the views of does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.
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