Two Devils prospects have been on two different ends of spectrum as of late when it comes to victory and defeat. Artur Gavrus and his Belarusian squad have moved on to the quarterfinals at the IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic while John Quenneville and his Brandon Wheat Kings have fallen behind the Kelowna Rockets three games to none in the WHL Finals.
Belarus needed one point to advance to the next round of the Worlds and got it when they defeated Norway 3-2 on Tuesday, May 12 at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic. They will now take on the winner of Group A, Canada, in Prague in the quarterfinals.
Belarus ended the Group B preliminary round with a 4-0-2-1 record with 14 points. Gavrus, a Devils 6th round pick in 2012 who is currently playing in the KHL in Russia, finished with two goals and three assists for five points in seven games played, good for fourth on the team. He tied for the team lead with 17 shots on goal.
For the Belarusians, Canada will be a tall order. However, this is a team that upset the United States earlier on in the tournament in Group B preliminary action, so anything can happen. Gavrus and his team should be primed and ready to take on another challenge.
On the other side of the coin, fellow Devils prospect John Quenneville and the Brandon Wheat Kings, who are currently playing a best of seven series against the Kelowna Rockets, are on the verge of being eliminated.
Brandon can stop Kelowna’s sweep on Wednesday, May 13 in Kelowna in Game 4. The Wheat Kings fell in Game 1 on May 8, 4-3; in Game 2 on May 9, 5-3; and on May 11 in Game 3, 5-3 to go down by three games. The first two games were at home in Brandon. Quenneville, a 1st round pick by the Devils in 2014, went into the series as the team’s leading scorer in the postseason. He has not had a point in the Finals.
With a win in Game 4, the Wheat Kings can force the series back on home ice for the final two games.
If Kelowna wins on May 13, they will punch their ticket to the Memorial Cup to be played in Quebec City from May 21-31 to crown the Canadian Hockey League champion. They will join the host Quebec Remparts, the QMJHL President’s Cup champion Rimouski Oceanic and the OHL champion (to be decided with the Oshawa Generals currently leading the Erie Otters two games to one) in the round robin style tournament.
Quenneville and the Wheat Kings, much like Belarus in the World Championship, have a huge obstacle to overcome on their road to championship glory. Whether they are able to come back or not, it has been a great run for John Quenneville, the Brandon Wheat Kings, Artur Gavrus and Belarus. If this is the end of the line for either team, they have played well and have nothing to be ashamed of, having left it all on the table.