Half of WHL opening round playoff series feature Southwest players


A total of six Southwest hockey players will skate in the opening round of the Western Hockey League playoffs for four different teams.

Dinsmore’s Joe Arntsen will lead the underdog Lethbridge Hurricanes into the playoffs against the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 6’2.5’’ defenseman registered eight goals, 29 assists, and 97 penalty minutes in 68 games during his third WHL season. Lethbridge finished seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 33-30-4-1 record, 33 points behind the Oil Kings. The best-of-seven series opens Thursday in Edmonton.

Chase Coward and Kalan Lind helped the Red Deer Rebels to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference with a 45-19-2-2 record.

Coward finished with a 22-10-0-2 record and two shutouts during his rookie season. The Swift Current native posted a 2.51 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.

Lind, a Shaunavon native, who was drafted sixth overall in 2020, finished with 20 goals, 18 assists, and 93 penalty minutes in 61 games during his rookie season.

The Rebels and sixth-place Brandon Wheat Kings will open the playoffs on Friday in Red Deer.

Two Western Conference series will feature a trio of veteran Southwest skaters. Swift Current’s Ryan McCleary is hoping to lead the Portland Winterhawks to a deep playoff run after they finished third with a 47-16-3-2 record.

McCleary is still technically a rookie in the WHL despite being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins last year in the seventh round, 192nd overall. The 6’2’’ defenseman from Swift Current contributed six goals and 24 assists in 63 games this season and finished with a plus-22 rating. Portland will face the sixth-seeded Prince George Cougars to open the playoffs.

The Spokane Chiefs squeaked into the playoffs with a 24-39-4-1 record to claim the seventh seed and a playoff matchup with the second seeded Kamloops Blazers. Swift Current’s Reed Jacobson registered three goals and nine assists in 40 games during 40 games in his third season in Spokane. Defenseman Mac Gross, also a Swift Current native, added three goals and eight assists in 55 games during his third WHL campaign.