The first round of playoff hockey is now a thing of the past for the Sask West Hockey League as only the top four teams from the regular season standings remain in the hunt for the title.

The Kindersley Red Lions are gearing up for their first game of the semifinals versus the defending champion - the Wilkie Outlaws. Opening faceoff is set for 8:30 P.M. at the Wilkie Community Centre.

For Wilkie, the team has had the privilege of focusing on their provincial playoffs after receiving a bye week in the SWHL playoffs for posting the best record in the regular season. The Outlaws started their provincials with a first round series win over the Meadow Lake Broncos of the Beaver Lakes Hockey League.

As for the Red Lions, the last couple weeks have been a little more busy after winning their league series over Eatonia and provincial series against Hague. But, the team is embracing their busy schedule. "I think that playing quite often can help you because you're getting more into the groove of things and more active," said Curtis Graham, head coach for the Kindersley Red Lions. "We should be ready to go hopefully."

Graham added how the majority of the roster is rested and healthy for their upcoming series except for a couple minor injuries. "We had practice here this week, but nothing too extensive."

This semifinals match-up will be a tough task for the Red Lions considering they did not defeat the Outlaws once during the regular season. The Outlaws managed to outscore the Red Lions 30-5 in the regular season. Although, Graham knows it is a whole different feeling when it comes to playoffs.

"They are a tough team, there is absolutely no doubt about it," mentioned Graham. "But, if we play good defensively, then anything can happen."

The Macklin Mohawks and Luseland/Dodsland Mallards begin their series at the Macklin and District Communiplex tonight at 8:30 P.M. Both teams finished tied for second place in the standings with Macklin winning the tie-breaker due to the teams' head-to-head win/lose record.

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