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Thursday, May 9, 2019

DUPONT'S AROUND THE DUB

As you wake up this morning, Prince Albert is on the verge of a title, the dust has settled on the bantam draft and the search for a new GM is on in Brandon. Let's get into it!

1. One Win Away - We start on the west coast where the Prince Albert Raiders are one win away from their first WHL title in three decades. It's been a wild week but the machine is rolling and people across the country are taking notice. Can the Raiders be the ones to snap the dub's recent struggles at the Memorial Cup? I think they could!

2. More Than Offence - With the series even at a game-a-piece, the Giants and Raiders, along with media and league officials, hopped on the league's charter and were wheels up for Langley. Games three, four, and five set to be hosted by the Giants.

I want to know what they served the Raiders on the flight!

In game three, the team put a converted touchdown on the board…. IN THE FIRST PERIOD! They won the game 8-2.

The following night was a much different story. Vancouver came to play and fired 36 shots towards Toronto Maple Leafs' prospect Ian Scott. The Raiders' netminder turned them all aside in a 1-0 shutout victory. Brett Leason scored the lone goal and the Raiders' are up 3-1 in the series.

Scott has put together a 1.83 goals against average and a sparkling .931 save percentage through 20 games. More impressive might be the five shutouts. He had eight in the regular season.

3. Byram Impressing - When is the last time a draft eligible defenceman led the league in playoff scoring? The Giants' Bowan Byram has been leading nearly wire-to-wire and is tied with PA's Brett Leason with 23 points. It's impressive to follow and he's only just begun his journey.

4. Byram, Cozens at the Top - Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino has released his final draft rankings ahead of the upcoming NHL draft, and has Byram as the top rated Canadian prospect. We've told you what he's been accomplishing on the biggest stage and the scouts have noticed too.

Sam has Lethbridge Hurricanes' star Dylan Cozens listed at #6 while the Blades' Kirby Dach comes in at #8 and is being called a 'top 10 wildcard.' Winnipeg Ice forward Peyton Krebs comes in right at #10 to round out the group.

5. Ice Gamble on Savoie... Sort Of - As I mentioned in this space last week, I wasn't surprised that the Winnipeg Ice selected young phenom Matthew Savoie with the #1 pick in last Thursday's WHL bantam draft. They had already acquired his brother and will now begin to convince the two that Winnipeg is the best spot for their hockey futures.

I say they sort-of gambled because they were a busy group last week. The team took their second first round pick (#9 overall), sprinkled it with fairy dust, and turned it into Conor Geekie, the number two rated prospect in the draft. Can you imagine this group in a few years if BOTH commit to play in Winnipeg? I love the risk and love the belief in the organization to get it done.

6. Wild Day In Red Deer - In total there were 19 trades last Thursday at the Cambridge Hotel & Conference Centre in Red Deer. The biggest trade if the day involved the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Warriors sent star defenceman Jett Woo to the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for 20-year-old Nashville Predators' defensive prospect Vladislav Yeryomenko, 16-year-old Yorkton product Ryder Korczak, the 11th overall pick (used to take D Denton Mateychuk), and a 2nd round pick in 2021.

Calgary is ready to take a run.

7. Kelowna Building For Memorial Cup - The Rockets are getting set to host next year's Memorial Cup and the team did their part to get better last week.

In a trade with Seattle, the Rockets acquired defenceman Jake Lee, forward Dillon Hamaliuk and goaltender Cole Schwebius.

In return, the Thunderbirds received forward Connor Bruggen-Cate, the 10th overall pick in the draft, a second-round pick in 2021, and a first-round pick in 2022.

Earlier in the day the team acquired the rights to defenceman Sean Comrie from the Brandon Wheat Kings. Comrie played at the University of Denver last season but was apparently unhappy with his ice-time and role. NHL Central Scouting has Comrie listed 108th amongst North American skaters for the upcoming draft.

8. GM Search in Brandon - As Kelly McCrimmom becomes the General Manager in Las Vegas, he begins the search for a new one in Brandon. Earlier this week, the team announced that General Manager Grant Armstrong's contract would not be extended.

Names that have been thrown around include ex-Wheat King and current player agent Jason Taylor and ex-player, director of scouting Darren Ritchie. (Mike Sawatzky @Sawa14)

9. Tweet Of The Week - It comes from Jeff D'Andrea (@Jeff_paNOW):

The Raiders now have 5 hat tricks in these playoffs, scored by Protas twice, Leason tonight, Hannoun and Montgomery. That's the most in the WHL internet era.

One of Leason's goals was changed, but still extremely impressive stuff.

10. Random Thoughts - Hands up if you had San Jose, St Louis, Boston, and Carolina as your final-four in the NHL… the home team has won all four games in the OHL championship after Guelph's win on Wednesday night. The series is even 2-2… After a night off on Wednesday, the QMJHL final resumes Thursday night for game five. The series between Halifax and Rouyn-Noranda is even at 2-2.

(Follow Darren Dupont on Twitter at @darrendupont)

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