It all comes down to this. The winner nabs a ticket to the Memorial Cup in Halifax, the loser, goes home.
Neither team will have reason to hang their head. The WHL playoffs are a marathon, not a sprint and as these players can attest it has been a grueling 53 days.
Tonight’s game will be played at the boisterous Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, as the Raiders have held home-ice since winning the Scotty Munro regular season trophy as the top team in the Western Hockey League.
For the Raiders, it will be the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, Ian Scott. He has been mostly unflappable in the playoff run for the Raiders. However, in both Game 5 and Game 6, he gave up some rebounds that proved costly. The margin of error is very small in the WHL playoffs and it will be ridiculously small in Game 7 of the WHL final. Scott has been so consistent for the Raiders and will assuredly bounce back in the final 2018-19 WHL game. Scott still leads the WHL in playoff GAA (1.99) and save percentage (0.925).
In the other net, it will be Arizona Coyotes draft pick David Tendeck. He struggled at times over his first 14 postseason games. But he settled in to stop 37-of-40 shots in Game 5 and 36-of-38 last night. Tendeck is a big reason the Giants were able to bounce back from a 3-1 series deficit to put themselves on the verge of their first Ed Chynoweth Cup since 2006.
Speaking of last night, the Giants gave up an early goal to Parker Kelly – his first of two on the night – but despite a raucous arena, settled in to answer right back, thanks to Davis Koch.
In a tight series, it seems fitting that the WHL’s postseason scoring title will likely be decided tonight as well. Vancouver defenseman Bowen Byram has eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points, while Prince Albert’s Brett Leason has tallied 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points.
The Raiders Dante Hannoun sits two points back with 13 goals and 10 assists.
Byram seems the favorite to be named MVP if the Giants win, while Scott is still likely to be honored if the Raiders emerge with their first Ed Chynoweth Cup since 1985.
For the Raiders this will be the last WHL game for overage forwards Sean Montgomery (345 regular season and this will be his 35th postseason game – all with PA), Noah Gregor (257 and 51 games) and Hannoun (314 and 55).
For the Giants, forwards Jared Dmytriw (314 and 55), Koch (320 and 40) and defenseman Dallas Hines (248 and 22) will take to the ice for a WHL game for the last time.
It always seems that the oldest players make the biggest plays in games like this. It will be safe to expect that again.