Three Western Hockey League graduates have helped the Los Angeles Kings reach the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
Former Lethbridge Hurricane Dwight King, Kootenay Ice graduate Jarret Stoll and Red Deer Rebels’ alumnus Colin Fraser are all members of the Kings, who just eliminated the Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL’s Western Conference final to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1993.
King, a 22-year-old from Meadow Lake, SK, is in his first season with Los Angeles, and has played a key role in the Kings’ success. The 6’3”, 234-lb winger has scored five goals in the post-season for Los Angeles while playing a hard-nosed, hard-checking power game. Having gotten into 27 regular-season games for Los Angeles, King has been a staple in the lineup throughout the post-season. King played 273 career regular-season games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, scoring 79 goals and 189 points, and helped the ‘Canes reach the 2008 WHL championship series.
Stoll, a linemate of King, has also played a big role in the post-season run for the Kings. The 28-year-old from Melville, SK, has two goals and four points in 14 playoff games while anchoring the much-vaunted third line. Stoll, who is in his eighth season in the NHL, spent four seasons in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice from 1998 to 2002, helping the Ice capture a pair of WHL titles and a Memorial Cup in 2002. He also twice played for Canada’s national junior team.
Fraser has gotten into 12 games for the Kings in the playoffs, recording one assist. The 27-year-old from Sicamous, B.C., spent four years playing for the Red Deer Rebels, helping the team to the WHL championship series on two occasions and also played for Canada’s national junior team in 2005.
The team the Kings defeated in the Western Conference final, the Phoenix Coyotes, boasted 11 WHL graduates on their roster, led by veteran Shane Doan, who won a Memorial Cup title for the Kamloops Blazers in 1995 while earning tournament MVP honors.
Also on the Coyotes roster is former Memorial Cup winner with the Spokane Chiefs Ray Whitney, former Swift Current Bronco Michal Rozsival, former Red Deer Rebels’ Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon, Regina Pats’ grad Derek Morris, Prince Albert Raiders alumnus Kyle Chipchura, former Vancouver Giant Gilbert Brule, Medicine Hat Tigers’ grad David Schlemko, Tri-City Americans alumnus Daymond Langkow, and Calgary Hitmen graduate Michael Stone.
The Kings will await either the New York Rangers or the New Jersey Devils as their opponent in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. The Devils and Rangers, who are battling in the Eastern Conference final, have a pair of WHL grads between them including the Devils’ Bryce Salvador, a former Lethbridge Hurricane, and the Rangers’ Brandon Dubinsky, who played four seasons for the Portland Winterhawks.
Meanwhile, six WHL graduates have helped the Norfolk Admirals reach the AHL’s Calder Cup finals, led by a pair of Memorial Cup-winning Spokane Chiefs in Tyler Johnson and Dustin Tokarski.
Johnson, 21, picked up three goals and eight points in 10 post-season contests for the Admirals after netting an impressive 31 tallies and 68 points in 75 games in his first season of professional hockey. The Spokane, WA, product put up 128 goals and 282 points in 266 career regular-season games for Spokane, and was the MVP of the 2008 WHL championship series. Johnson also helped Team USA win the World Junior championship in 2010.
Tokarski, a product of Humboldt, SK, has appeared in 10 games in net for the Admirals, sporting an 8-2 record with a 1.65 goals-against average and a stellar .939 save percentage. The 22-year-old played three seasons for the Chiefs and was named the Top Goaltender and MVP of the 2008 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament. He also backstopped Canada to a Gold medal at the 2009 World Junior championships.
Other WHL grads who helped the Admirals to the Calder Cup finals include former Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Scott Jackson, Everett Silvertips’ grad Radko Gudas, former Brandon Wheat King Keith Aulie, and former Calgary Hitmen star Brandon Segal.
The two teams battling for the other Calder Cup final berth, the Oklahoma City Oil Barons and the Toronto Marlies, feature 11 WHL grads between them.
The Oil Barons, the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, boast eight WHL grads including Dylan Yeo (P.G., Cgy), Tyler Pitlick (M.H), Josh Green (M.H., S.C., Por), Alex Plante (Cgy), Cameron Abney (Edm, Evt), Curtis Hamilton (Sas), Colten Teubert (Reg) and Triston Grant (Let, Van).
The Marlies, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, have three WHL grads who have helped them on their post-season run including Greg Scott (Sea), Carter Ashton (Let, Reg, T.C.) and Colton Orr (S.C., Kam, Reg).