Thursday, April 18, 2013

1)Portland vs. 3)Kamloops Western Conference Final Preview

Portland (57-12-1-2, 117 Points in the Regular Season) vs. Kamloops (47-20-2-3, 99 Points). The series begins Friday at 7pm in Portland.

How They Got Here: Portland beat Everett 4 games to 2 in the First Round, then swept Spokane 4 games to 0 in the Western Semi-Final. Kamloops defeated the 6th seeded Victoria Royals 4 games to 2 then swept the 2nd seeded Kelowna Rockets 4 games to 0.

Season Series at a Glance: Portland won 3 of the 4 games in the series outscoring Kamloops by a 15-9 margin. Here is a quick look at the games:
  • 11/11/2012(Portland)- Portland 3 Kamloops 1- Oliver Bjorkstrand had 2 power play goals and Mac Carruth stopped 24 of 25 shots.
  • 11/16/2012(Kamloops)- Kamloops 6 Portland 4- The Blazer's top line at the time: Colin Smith,J.C. Lipon and Tim Bozon combined for 14 points. Brendan Leipsic had a goal and 2 assists for the Hawks.
  • 1/30/2013(Portland)- Portland 5 Kamloops 2- The Blazers jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Hawks responded, scoring 5 goals in a row.Leipsic led the way for the Hawks with a  goal and 2 assists.
  • 2/20/2013(Kamloops)- Portland 3 Kamloops 0- Portland clinched the season series when Carruth stopped all 27 shots he faced and Leipsic led the way offensively with a goal and an assist.
 Brendan Leipsic led the Hawks in series scoring against the Blazers with 3 Goals and 6 Assists for 9 points, while Petan added 3 Goals and 2 Assists and Bjorkstrand and Leier chipped in 4 points apiece.
Brendan Leipsic

Kamloops was led by Colin Smith's 7 points, while J.C. Lipon had 6 and Tim Bozon added 5. This top line, for most of the year that is, scored 6 of their 9 goals against the Hawks.

Mac Carruth had a 3-1 record vs. the Blazers with a .922 Save Percentage and a 2.01 Goals Against Average. His counterpart: Cole Cheveldave was 1-2 against the Hawks with a .883 Save % and a 3.69 GAA.

Kamloops at a Glance:
J.C. Lipon
-Kamloops worked their way through their B.C. rivals in the first 2 rounds, winning 8 of 10 total games. 3 of their victories, including 2 against Kelowna went into extra time. Though, they were without regular season scoring leaders Colin Smith and Tim Bozon for many of their games, they got their 3 OT winners from 3 different scorers (Dylan Willick, Kale Kessy and J.C. Lipon). The makeshift unit of Lipon, Ranford and Cole Ully, has done a majority of the scoring for the Blazers, with 48 points combined, though the second line of Kale Kessy, Matt Needham and Chase Souto has chipped in at times.

Though they may have been able to do without Smith and Bozon against a depleted Kelowna defensive unit, they will badly need both of them to be healthy and contribute against a healthy and impressive Portland defense.

Though this is a big enough concern, Kamloop's major concern going into series has got be how to slow down Portland's scoring punch. Youth and inexperience do not plague this unit, as their top 4 Defenseman are all in their 19 year old seasons. Two of them were picked up in trades during the season (Sam Grist from Tri City and Joel Edmundson from Moose Jaw) in hopes that they might add some offensive touch form the blue line. Edmundson has done his part in the playoffs(7 points, 9th in scoring for WHL Defensemen), but no other Kamloops D-men are in the top 20. They will need to start producing for Kamloops against Portland as the Hawks do not have this issue (4 D-men in the top 6).
Joel Edmundson

In net for the Blazers: 19 year old Cole Cheveldave, has not played at the same level he played last post-season, but played much better in the second round. His numbers: 8-2 record, 2.60 GAA and .895 Save %, are decent, but he will need to be a star for the Blazers to take the Hawks out and advance to their first WHL final since 1999.

Random Notes:
-Tim Bozon and Colin Smith both were on the Kamloops bus and Coach Guy Charron stated that they both might play in game 1 Friday.
-Carruth got a speeding ticket on Tuesday.
-Ty Rattie is sitting at 2nd all time in post-season goals(41), trailing only Mark Pederson (47), who played for Medicine Hat in the late '80s.
-He also has 78 total points, which places him 5th all time.
-Rattie keeps getting asked if he holds any ill will towards J.C.Lipon for his hit in last year's Semi-Final that caused Rattie to miss time with a neck injury. He keeps stating that he does not, as he became close to Lipon while they both played for Canada at the World Juniors.
-Game 1 of the Eastern Final goes tonight in Edmonton as they take on Calgary.

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