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Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012

For anyone wanting to get on the Warriors fan bus to Edmonton, the deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Call the Warriors office for details. The bus will leave at 6:30 a.m. at the Civic Centre Friday morning and return immediately following Game 2 Sunday night.

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Morgan Rielly worked with the first power play unit at practice earlier this week. Rielly was joined by Quinton Howden, Cam Braes, James Henry and Kenton Miller on the top unit. Towards the end of the Medicine Hat series, defenceman Travis Brown filled that role as he provided a little more defensive responsibility against the dangerous TIgers' penalty kill.

The second unit featured Brown along with Cody Beach, Sam Fioretti, Eric Arnold and Justin Kirsch as they deployed one defenceman and four forwards again.

As we've seen all season and certainly into the playoffs, Mike Stothers isn't afraid to mix things up and it's possible Kirsch could return to the first unit or Brayden Point could be spotted in again as he has been at times during the post-season.

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In a week when so much of the conversation around hockey has been negative, it's somewhat ironic that some of the best hockey of the year has been played and has generated little notice.

In case you missed it there were five Game 7s in the Canadian Hockey League Tuesday.

In Ottawa, Sean Monahan scored with 24.1 seconds left to give the 67's a 3-2 lead before Barrie's Mark Scheifele tied the game with 8.7 seconds left to force overtime. In OT the home side prevailed when Brett Gustavsen scored for the 67's from a bad angle.

In the other OHL game Kitchener advanced and will play the London Knights in what should be a classic chapter in a great rivalry. In other conference final, Ottawa will meet the Niagara IceDogs.

That's nothing compared to the QMJHL where Halifax erased a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Québec Remparts 5-4 in overtime to win their best-of-seven series. It's apparently the third time that's even happened in the Q.  Cameron Critchlow, the roommate of Warriors forward James Henry when the two attended Notre Dame in Wilcox, had four goals for Halifax.

Memorial Cup hosts Shawinigan lost 3-2 to Chicoutimi in Game 7 as Chicoutimi won the final two games. Rimouski beat Blainville-Boisbriand 5-4 in their Game 7 to also complete a comeback after trailing in the series 3-2.

Of course Kamloops is looking to be the second team to ever come from 3-0 down when they play the Portland Winterhawks Wednesday in their Game 7. The Hawks led Game 4 4-0 in the first period and lost. The Blazers won Game 5 7-2 and then came back from a 5-2 third period hole to win 7-6. The Blazers scored four straight goals, but they were still announcing Colin Smith's go-ahead goal when Portland's Cam Reid tied the game at 6-6. Kamloop's Bronson Maschmeyer was the hero when he scored with 21 seconds left.

Those highlights are here: http://www.whl.ca/video/index/id/1334679970

Liam Stewart kept the Spokane Chiefs season alive with his overtime goal in Game 6 as they forced a Game 7 Wednesday against Tri-City. Those two teams have gone to overtime in 11 of their last 19 playoff games. They've met three times in the last five seasons. Though they will be hard-pressed to ever top their 2008 series when they went to overtime five times as Dustin Tokarski and Chet Pickard engaged in an epic battle. Tri-City won three overtime games, but the Chiefs won the series and went on to win the Memorial Cup.

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There's been talked about enough and I don't mean to get on a soapbox, but the NHL playoffs have been hard to watch this season. While the WHL playoffs have had more suspension-worthy and regrettable incidents, it seems fair to say that the NHL has had more after three games of the opening round than the WHL has had through three rounds. And these kids are supposed to be hot-headed teenagers playing in the most rough-and-tumble junior league in the world. If they can keep a modicum of composure and discipline, how have so many professionals failed to show any respect or restraint in the way they play the game of late.

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