Excitment abound in final two weeks of WHL regular season

It’s down to the final weekend in the WHL regular season and the last week and a half have been nothing if not entertaining.

The amount of times last week I had to answer the question “Will the Rebels make the playoffs” could fill up the suggestion box at your favourite local restaurant.

Answers varied of course from maybe, it looks likely, to who the heck knows or whatever else I could find on a magic eight ball.

For a few days, I contemplated wearing a sign around my neck with their playoff odds, which would have been based on no statistical analysis, just my hunch of approximately 90 per cent.

Of course, on Tuesday they clinched a playoff spot, then Wednesday eased the anxiety of who their opponent would be by clinching third in the Central Division and locking up a matchup with Lethbridge.

For a minute or two, there was a chance the Rebels could have lined up against the Regina Pats. A mix of a couple Red Deer losses and Saskatoon Blades/Calgary Hitmen wins and it might have happened. Just part of the fun, all the “what if” scenarios.

Playoffs were never really in doubt, but when the Rebels had lost three of four (two back-to-back overtime games) and the Hitmen were just two points behind Red Deer, there was much analyzing of tiebreaker situations in the WHL.

Which for your information are very complicated and just be happy that I don’t have to waste any space here boring you with the details.

While the addition of the wildcard added some excitement to the playoff scene in the WHL, the final weekend home-and-home series against a division rival adds even more buzz.

Two of four divisions will come down to the final days, with the Kelowna Rockets trailing the Prince George Cougars by just two points in B.C. and the Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips separated by one point in the U.S.

In the west, both wildcard spots have been accounted for, but Victoria and Tri-City will go down to the final day to determine who finishes where.

In the eastern wildcard, the Brandon Wheat Kings have solidified the first spot, but the Hitmen and Blades are seperated by three points for the final wildcard position.

With the weather warming and only potentially a handful of hockey games left in the WHL season, it will always be fun to remember the down-the-stretch buzz.

byron.hackett@bprda.wpengine.com

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