The major junior ranks are wayyyy ahead, with the CHL's leagues already playing their respective finals in preparation for the Memorial Cup. We start out west in the Dub, where two #3 seeds have gone all the way to the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
Calgary Hitmen 4, Moose Jaw Warriors 2
Player of the Series: T.J. Galiardi, LW (Calgary)
Make that player of the playoffs. Avs 2007 2nd rounder T.J. Galiardi had a monster playoffs, starting with a blistering 13 points in the first round alone. Never pointless in his six first round games, the lanky winger had multiple point games in all but one contest. Galiardi had 24 points in 16 games in total before the Lethbridge Hurricanes finally ousted his Hitmen in the West Finals.
Swift Current Broncos 4, Regina Pats 2
Player of the Series: Geordie Wudrick, LW (Swift Current)
It's tough to knock Jordan Eberle here. The recipient of some big hype in this column and on our boards, Eberle was again Regina's only consistent source of offensive output, scoring or assisting on a third of his team's goals. But it was another '08 eligible that stole the show. Criticized during the regular season for being too much of a passenger and not the force his 6'2 body could be, Geordie Wudrick was anything but in the first round. After a cool first three games, the power winger scored two goals to force OT in a Game 4 win. After getting the insurance empty-netter in Game 5, Wudrick finished the Pats off with the winner in Game 6. However, this would be it from Wudrick. He was shut down into obscurity in Round 2, collecting a measly one point.
Lethbridge Hurricanes 4, Brandon Wheat Kings 2
Player of the Series: Zach Boychuk
It's never a bad thing to start off the playoffs with a five-game goal-scoring streak. That's exactly what '08 eligible and probable top twelve pick Zach Boychuk did in Round 1. The diminutive pivot's five goals paced all players in the first round, a sign of things to come. Boychuk leads all playoff scorers with an incredible 11 goals, and will undoubtedly add to that total in the Dub Finals.
Kootenay Ice 4, Medicine Hat Tigers 1
Player of the Series: Ben Maxwell, C (Kooteney)
The 2005 Draft afterthought displayed the leadership and clutch abilities that make him such a promising prospect for the Habs. While his six points in five games was respectable, three of them came when his Ice were down by two- sparking rallies twice. Maxwell's magic touch continued into the second round, where he again was key to a rally- that one a rally from a 4-0 deficit in Game 2. It wouldn't be enough as Lethbridge would roll past in five in their eventual run to the WHL Finals.
Vancouver Giants 4, Chilliwack Bruins 0
Player of the Series: Mark Friesen, G (Chilliwack)
It's not often you see the goalie of a team that was swept earning accolades. But Mark Friesen is a very notable exception. The 17 year-old faced an average of 37 shots a game in the series, and lost every game by a one-goal margin. One of the younger players in the '08 Draft class and Chilliwack's backup during the regular season, Friesen has quickly become a sleeper prospect.
Tri-City Americans 4, Kamloops Blazers 0
Player of the Series: Colton Yellow Horn, LW (Tri-City)
One of the WHL's biggest superstars, the 5'8 undrafted forward scored eight points in a first round sweep of the Blazers. His Tri-City Americans eventually became embroiled in one of the most memorable series in WHL history. In the Dub Western Conference Finals against Spokane, five of the series' seven games went to OT, with three going to 2 OT. However, Yellow Horn's starpower and 21 points would not be enough. With his last major junior season now over, Yellow Horn's pro future is still very much up in the air. He does not appear fast or strong enough to be much more than a Eurostar.
Spokane Chiefs 4, Everett Silvertips 0
Player of the Series: Ondrej Roman, LW (Spokane)
The first round blowouts continued with yet another sweep. While Spokane's other stars were just warming up in preparation for their run to the Finals, Dallas Stars '07 5th rounder Ondrej Roman took charge. A crafty playmaker with tremendous vision, Roman scored two goals in a Game 1 5-2 win and finished the short series with five points. While a consistent producer throughout these playoffs, Roman's superstar teammates have since warmed up, with Carolina prospect Drayson Bowman (10 goals) and goalie Dustin Tokarski (1.39 GAA) leading the way.
Seattle Thunderbirds 4, Kelowna Rockets 3
Player of the Series: Bud Holloway, RW (Seattle)
After going down 2-0 to the underdog Rockets, Seattle took charge with three straight victories. The key to those wins- and the eventual series win- was Bud Holloway. A 3rd round selection of the Los Angeles Kings in 2006, the 20 year-old continued a dominant regular season performance with an even better start to the playoffs. In the first round, the 5'10 forward had eight points. While the Thunderbirds would last just one more round, Holloway finished with 10 in 12 games.