2013-14 WHL Western Conference preview

by Glen Erickson
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Shea Theodore - Seattle Thunderbirds

Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman and Anaheim Ducks prospect Shea Theodore will lead a young but talented Thunderbirds squad that could make some noise in 2013-14 (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Here’s a look at the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference heading into the 2013-14 season.

BC Division

Kelowna Rockets (Last Season: 52-16-3-1; 1st in B.C. Division)

While it may be difficult to match the 52 victories achieved last season, the Rockets are considered a top contender in the WHL's Western Conference this season.

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2013 Rookie Tournament: Pouliot using disappointments from last season to spur him on in 2013-14

by Jason Menard
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Derrick Pouliot - Team Canada

Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot was a part of the Team Canada squad that competed last month at the 2013 USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins’ defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot has enjoyed a number of successes over his career, but it’s a pair of disappointments that are fuelling the fire of what he hopes will be a dynamic 2013-14 season.

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2013 Rookie Tournament: Blackhawks’ McNeill, Danault building friendship as they begin pro career

by Jason Menard
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Mark McNeill - Prince Albert Raiders

Photo: Chicago Blackhawks 2011 first round pick Mark McNeill has completed his WHL career with the Prince Albert Raiders and will most likely begin his pro career with the Rockford IceHogs (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

One’s a little bigger and has a bit more physicality to his game, while the other is slightly smaller, but has a little more offensive flair. One’s more serious and business-like in his approach; the other’s a little more jovial and laissez-faire. The question of which one preferred country and which preferred rock ‘n roll wasn't asked.

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Catching up with Finnish prospects Waltteri Hopponen and Joel Kiviranta

by Chapin Landvogt
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Waltteri Hopponen - Finland

Photo: Espoo Blues right wing and 2014 prospect Waltteri Hopponen was chosen 10th overall at the 2013 CHL Import Draft by the WHL’s Everett Silvertips (courtesy of Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Hailing from the Espoo Blues organization stationed right outside of Helsinki, the 6’1”, 180-pound left winger Waltteri Hopponen most recently represented Team Finland at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament that took place in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia. Waltteri spoke to Hockey’s Future for a few moments after a 5-1 victory over Slovakia at the Ivan Hlinka.

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Video: 2013 Ivan Hlinka – Jayce Hawryluk, Canada

by Chapin Landvogt
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Jayce Hawryluk - Brandon Wheat Kings

Photo: Brandon Wheat Kings forward and 2014 prospect Jayce Hawryluk was his team’s Rookie of the Year for 2012-13 (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)

Team Canada forward Jayce Hawryluk may not have produced a great deal of offense at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, but he picked the right game to get himself on the scoresheet.

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