Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hawks and Chiefs Meet for 10th Time in the Playoffs

Spokane and Portland have met in the playoffs nine times before their meeting in the second round, starting Friday in Portland. Let's go over the previous nine meetings, shall we:

Meeting #1: 1986 Division Semi-Finals
-Portland beat Spokane, in a best of nine game series: 5-4. This was Spokane's first year as the Chiefs (they were previously the Kelowna Wings). The Ray Podloski and Glen Wesley led Hawks would go on to lose to Kamloops in the next round. An interesting note about this Spokane squad is that their top two scorers: Terry Perkins and Jeff Rolichek, were traded from Portland.
Glen Wesley

Meeting #2: 1987 Division Semi-Finals
-For the second straight season the Hawks dropped Spokane in a best of nine series. This time in a 5 game sweep. Dennis Holland led the Hawks all the way to the WHL finals, in this season, before they fell to Medicine Hat. Spokane leading scorer: Brent Gilchrist would go on to a 15 year NHL career with 5 different teams.

Meeting #3: 1992 First Round
Valeri Bure
-Spokane would finally take a series against the Hawks, the year after their Memorial Cup winning run. The Hawks would lose to the Chiefs in 6 games, despite an MVP winning season from Steve Konowalchuk. I remember this one strongly as Valeri Bure picked Jason McBain's pocket and walked in to score, ending the Hawk' season in overtime. Spokane would lose in the next round to Seattle 3 games to 1. Spokane coach Bryan Maxwell won the Coach of the Year award after leading the Chiefs to a successful season despite losing both Pat Falloon and Ray Whitney to the pros.

Meeting #4: 1996 First Round
-The series that everyone keeps re-hashing recently, with Kelowna coming back from 3 games down to win over Seattle this year. They did in 17 years to the date after Trent Whitfield and Spokane were able to, over a very young Portland squad. The majority of Portland's young players would go on to win the Memorial cup 2 years later.

Meeting #5: 1998 Western Conference Finals
-A truly epic series between two of the most talented squads in the CHL. Portland would win in seven games, after, with a one goal lead late in the game, Spokane could not find a loose puck in front of Brent Belecki. Portland would win it's second Cup in Spokane weeks later.
Scramble in the 98 Series

Meeting #6: 2001 Western Conference Finals
-Meeting again in the Western Conference Finals, the Hawks won this series 4 games to 1. Paul Gaustad led the Hawks in playoff scoring on their way to a 5 game defeat to Red Deer in the WHL finals. Before the series loss toPortland Spokane had advanced two straight rounds wiothout losing a game.

Meeting #7: 2003 First Round
-Another 7 game set between the franchises, this one going to Spokane. Portland would blow another big series lead, this one 3 game to 1. Spokane lost in a 4 game sweep in the next round to Kelowna.

Meeting #8: 2010 First Round
-In their first time back to the playoffs in 4 seasons, the Hawks took down Spokane on an overtime winner in game 7 from 16 year old Ty Rattie. Portland would lose to Vancouver in the next round, but their reclamation project took a huge step forward in this series win. Rattie, Rutkowski and Mac Carruth are the 3 Hawks remaining from that epic game 7. For Spokane: BlakeGal and Brenden Kichton, would probably like to get revenge for this one.
Meeting #8: 2011 Western Conference Finals
-Portland took down the Chiefs in 6 games to advance to their first WHL final in ten seasons, where they would lose to Kooenay in 5 games. Brendan Leipsic scored an overtime winner in game 3 of their series.

So 10 playoff meetings between the squads, in all levels of the Western Conference playoffs. Portland holds the lead with 6 series wins to 3 over Spokane. 5 of the series would go the maximum amount of games and 2 of the series would end in an overtime and series winner at the opponent's rink.

I think it's fair to say that Spok. and Port. have quite the history of entertaining playoff series and this one should be no different, despite Portland being heavily favored. Also, Portland has knows that no series lead is safe against a team that has come back from 3-0 and 3-1 deficits ot win 2 of the 3 series in their playoff histories.

All this having been said: these are both new teams and I will be going into a much deeper preview of the series tomorrow.

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