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CHL round 1 primer

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks

A total of five Canucks prospects will enter the race for the 2016 Memorial Cup as the CHL Playoffs get set to begin. The Canucks will have at least one prospect playing in each of the three leagues.

WHL Western Conference Quarterfinal

Seattle Thunderbirds (45-23-4) vs. Prince George Cougars (36-31-5)

Prospect: Tate Olson, Prince George

Notes: Last summer, Cougars coach Mark Holick said Olson elevates his play in big games. The Cougars will need him to do just that as they go up against a Seattle team that finished first in the U.S. Division. The two teams each won a pair of games against each other during the regular season. Olson finished the season 47 points (9-38-47) in 65 games, leading all Prince George defencemen. Game 1 goes Friday night in Seattle.

OHL Western Conference Quarterfinal

Erie Otters (52-15-1) vs. Saginaw Spirit (24-36-8)

Prospect: Kyle Pettit, Erie

Notes: No McDavid, no problem for the Erie Otters, which finished with one more point then they did last year. On paper, this series should be a cakewalk for the Otters, which finished with 49 more points and 28 more wins during the regular season. Pettit will be relied on all post-season to shut down the opposition’s top players. The Canucks’ sixth round pick in 2014 was voted as the Top Defensive Forward in the OHL’s Western Conference by coaches. Game 1 goes Friday in Erie.

QMJHL First Round Series

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (38-24-6) vs. Chicoutimi Saguenéens (32-25-11)

Prospect: Dmitry Zhukenov, Chicoutimi

Notes: It has been a solid rookie season in the QMJHL for Zhukenov, who finished the season with 57 points (15-42-57) in 64 games. Chicoutimi enters the QMJHL playoffs as the 10th seed (QMJHL ranks 1-16 no matter what division for playoffs), despite losing their first nine games of the season. They will have their hands full with the deep offense of Cape Breton, which features a pair of 40+ goal scorers and seven guys in total that tallied 20 or more times this season. Game 1 goes Friday in Cape Breton.

QMJHL First Round Series

Saint John Sea Dogs (42-20-6) vs. Acadie-Bathurst Titan (27-35-6)

Prospect: Guillaume Brisebois, Acadie-Bathurst

Notes: Brisebois finished up his third season in the QMJHL, and second as Titan captain, with 26 points (10-16-26) in 52 games. They will have their hands full in Round 1 with the 2011 Memorial Cup champion Sea Dogs, which finished 30 points ahead of them in the standings. On the bright side, the Titan beat the Sea Dogs three times during the regular season, while losing twice by just one goal. Brisebois appeared in four playoff games back in 2014, tallying a goal and two assists. The series kicks off on Friday.

QMJHL First Round Series

Shawinigan Cataractes (44-19-5) vs. Sherbrooke Phoenix (24-35-9)

Prospect: Carl Neill, Sherbrooke

Notes: Like Brisebois and the Titan, Neill and the Phoenix will have their hands full with the 2012 Memorial Cup champion Cataractes. Neill finished the season with 50 points (8-42-50) in 64 games this year. This could be the last shot at QMJHL title for the defenceman as his 1996 birth date means he is eligible to play pro next season. Shawinigan took four of five games during the regular season. Game 1 goes Friday night.

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