With the regular season wrapped up out west, playoff matchups are now set as the conference semis will feature and all-Alberta matchup and a series featuring a pair of top 10 teams in the other semi-final.
#10 Saskatchewan @ Lethbridge
Needing a sweep of Saskatchewan and a sweep by Regina to make it to the postseason, the Lethbridge Pronghorns came out and played a hard-nosed series against the Huskies, picking up a win Friday night 4-3 on the back of Adam Chorneyko's 15th and 16th goals respectively, but despite the win, the 'Horns playoff hopes had already been dashed thanks to a Bisons win earlier in the night against Regina. That Manitoba win coupled with the Saskatchewan loss put the pressure on the Huskies to win Saturday night to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
In what amounted to a meaningless game Saturday night for Lethbridge, Saskatchewan needed a win to assure themselves second place in the conference, and got that much needed victory in overtime. Kyle Ross scored his fourth of the year in the extra frame on the power play to lift the Huskies to the win, and lockup second place in the standings.
Lethbridge, who went 8-1-1 down the stretch to put themselves in the playoff race finishes the season with a 13-11-2-2 mark good for 30 points and fifth place - two points behind fourth place Calgary. Saskatchewan finishes the regular season with a 16-8-3-1 record and 36 points - 11 behind first place Alberta.
Regina @ #9 Manitoba
Playing for both their playoff lives and second place at the same time, the Manitoba Bisons got it done this weekend in one respect, clinching a playoff berth while falling short of second place in the conference standings.
Manitoba locked up a postseason berth Friday night with a 4-1 win at home over the Cougars thanks to three power play goals, as the Herd went three-for-five with the man advantage - their most productive output of the season. Brandon Lockerby led the Bisons with a goal and an assist in the winning effort, with Steve Christie picking up the win in net for Manitoba.
With the playoffs a certainty, the Bisons were looking to put the pressure on Saskatchewan for second place in the conference Saturday, which Manitoba did successfully with a 5-3 win. With four unanswered goals, Manitoba successfully came back from a second period 3-1 deficit to secure the win, but it wasn`t enough to earn second place as Saskatchewan, as summed up earlier won their Saturday night game to edge the Bisons out in the standings.
Regina finishes the season with a 9-17-2-0 record, good for 20 points and sixth place. Manitoba compiled a 16-10-0-2 mark for 34 points and third place.
Next weekend the conference semis get underway with the Calgary Dinos heading to Edmonton to take on Alberta in one series, and the Bisons travelling to Saskatoon to take on the Huskies in the other best-of-three.