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Reinhart vs. Pulock

Islanders first-rounders Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock face off on the second round of the WHL playoffs.

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 3:26 PM / News
By Cory Wright
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Reinhart vs. Pulock
Islanders first-rounders Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock face off on the second round of the WHL playoffs.

Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock are travelling on very similar paths in their hockey careers. They are two of the Islanders top defensive prospects, who both captain a Western Hockey League club and can relate to each other in a way almost no one else can.

Their parallel paths are about to cross, as their respective teams, the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Brandon Wheat Kings, meet in the second round of the WHL playoffs, starting Thursday night.

Both Reinhart’s Oil Kings and Pulock’s Wheat Kings swept their first round series’ to set up this heavyweight collision. The top-seeded Oil Kings handled their business, knocking off the eighth-seeded Prince Albert Raiders in four games, while the seventh-seeded Wheat Kings shocked the WHL by beating the second-seeded Regina Pats in four straight.

“People thought [the series] was going to be a little closer than it was,” Pulock said. “For our team, we had a strong finish to our season, built a lot of confidence and kept rolling through the first round.”

Pulock finished the series with four points (two goals, two assists), but the Wheat Kings offense was red-hot, scoring 24 goals in the four-game series – at least five goals in each contest.

“All four lines are contributing right now and I think come playoff time, that’s definitely key,” Pulock said. “For me, I want to be at my best in this series, that’s my job. I want to lead this team. I have to be playing my best heading into the second round.”

While the Wheat Kings are averaging the most goals-per-game (six) in the Eastern Conference, the Oil Kings have allowed the fewest. Edmonton only allowed nine goals over four games to Prince Albert, while scoring 18 of their own. Despite the optics of a four-game sweep on paper, Reinhart said the Raiders gave the Oil Kings all they could handle; serving as a reminder that nothing comes easy in the post season.

“It was a closer series than the standings indicated,” Reinhart said. “Every team in this league – regardless of where you are in the standings – can play on any given night.

Reinhart, who is a noted shutdown specialist, contributed a goal and two assists in the series, including a two-point effort in Edmonton’s comeback, overtime win in game three.

Pulock and Reinhart have developed a relationship through Islanders training camps and Hockey Canada events. The off-ice friends hold each other in the highest regards on the ice.

“[On Long Island] I was pretty close with him being from the Western league,” Reinhart said. “He’s got a heck of a shot, he runs their offense and he can also shut guys down.”

“Obviously Griffin is a great player who we are going to have to watch out for all series,” Pulock said. “He’s a solid defenseman who likes to get in the play offensively a bit. He’s definitely a key guy that we have to look out for.”

The joint admiration also fuels competition, meaning that relationship will put on hold for the duration of the series.

“On the ice – right now – he’s the enemy,” Reinhart said. “I’m sure after the series; we’ll catch up and chat a little bit.”

Game one goes Thursday night in Edmonton. Puck drop is at 9:00 p.m. eastern time.

Season Recap: Edmonton won the season series with Brandon 3-1, taking both games at Rexall Place and splitting the two games at Keystone Centre. The Oil Kings won the last three meetings between the teams, outscoring the Wheat Kings 15-9. Brandon took the first meeting 4-3 in early October.

Schedule (all times eastern):
Game One: Brandon at Edmonton, Thurs. Apr. 3 9:00 p.m.
Game Two: Brandon at Edmonton, Sat. Apr. 5 2:00 p.m.
Game Three: Edmonton at Brandon, Tues. Apr. 8 8:00 p.m.
Game Four: Edmonton at Brandon, Wed. Apr. 9 8:00 p.m.
Game Five*: Brandon at Edmonton, Fri. Apr. 11 9:00 p.m.
Game Six*: Edmonton at Brandon, Mon. Apr. 14 8:00 p.m.
Game Seven*: Brandon at Edmonton, Wed. Apr. 16 9:00 p.m.

*If necessary

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 61 26 31 4 157 191 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 62 25 32 5 170 189 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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