Jets prospects Michael Spacek
, Nelson Nogier
and the Red Deer Rebels defeated the Regina Pats 2-1 in Game 7 of their second-round series Tuesday, and will now face the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Eastern final of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
The first two games of the best-of-seven series will be played Friday and Saturday in Brandon, both beginning at 7:30pm CT. The winner of that set will advance to the WHL Championship Series
against either the Seattle Thunderbirds or the defending champ Kelowna Rockets.
“It’s been seven games of hard-fought hockey,” Rebels owner, coach and general manager Brent Sutter told RedDeerRebels.com. “Regina — full marks to them. They played hard and did a lot of great things in this series.”
Sutter said of Adam Musil’s fortuitous winning tally: “It wasn’t a pretty goal by any means, but that’s how it works. I’m happy and relieved that we’re the ones that got it.”
But it isn't getting any easier.
Brandon was the top team in the Eastern Conference this season, posting a 48-18-4-2 record for 102 points, 18 more than the second-place Prince Albert Raiders.
Spacek, who is in his first year with the Rebels, had 18 goals and 54 points in 61 regular-season games. He has another 10 points (2G, 8A) in a dozen playoff contests. The 5-foot-11,
185-pound Czech was taken by the Jets with the 108th pick in the 2015 Draft.
Nogier, meanwhile, had four goals, 21 points and a career-high +27 rating in 69 regular-season games before adding three points (2G, 1A) so far in the playoffs. The 19-year-old was drafted
with the 101st pick in 2014.
Regardless of the outcome in the upcoming series’ the Rebels will play in the upcoming Memorial Cup as the host team. The tournament gets underway Friday, May 20, meaning the Rebels will have –
at most – 22 days off in between.
The host team has won the tournament nine times dating back to the Portland Winterhawks’ inaugural victory in 1983. The Shawinigan Cataractes did it most recently, edging out the London Knights in overtime back in 2012, after being eliminated in the second round of the QMJHL playoffs.
If the Rebels win the WHL championship, the runner-up will then be awarded a spot in the Memorial Cup as well.
It is the first time in 42 years that the national championship will be held in Alberta.
-- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com