Monday, April 15, 2013

Kamloops vs. Portland Playoff History

There are few teams in the WHL that have better team histories then Kamloops and Portland. This was especially true from 1982 to 1995 when they played each other 9 times in those 13 years.
Action from Last Year's Series

The New Westminster Bruins moved to Kamloops in 1982 and have won 3 Memorial Cups and 6 Scott Munro Trophies. Kamloops has a string of players that made it to the big leagues and made an impact, including: Ken Daneyko, Rob Brown, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Darcy Tucker, Scott Niedemeyer and many more. Of the 10 times they have faced each other, none of the matchups were in the first round and 6 of them were in the Division Finals. This meant that 6 of the 10 times the two teams have matched up were for the Western Conference title. Even though, they have played so many times in the playoffs, the Hawks and Blazers have only gone to the maximum number of games 1 time(last year).

Kamloops has made it to the West Final (counting this year) 15 times, including 13 times in a row from 1984-1996. Portland is one of the few teams that can contend with this, as they have made the West Final 14 times(including this year).

Let's take a look at the history of Portland vs. Kamloops in the playoffs:

1982 Division Semi-Finals:
Ken Yaemchuk
-Portland swept Kamloops, in the franchise's first year in Kamloops as the Junior Oilers. Brian Shaw and Ken Yaremchuk led the Hawks to a WHL Championship on their way to losing in the Memorial Cup. This was Lyle Moffat's only year as Coach of Kamloops.

1984 Division Finals:
Dean Evason
-Kamloops, after winning their first President's trophy, got the Hawks back with a 5 game sweep in the Western Conference Finals. Future Hartford Whaler Dean Evason led the way for the Blazers as they made their first Memorial Cup, losing in the Semi-Finals. Kamloops would change their name the following season to Blazers.

1985 Division Semi-Finals:
-The newly named Blazers again took down the Hawks, this time 5 games to 1 in the Western Semis. They would advance to the WHL Finals before losing to Prince Albert. This was longtime NHL Coach: Ken Hitchcock's first year with the Blazers and Rob Brown had 26 playoff points as a 16 year old for the Blazers.
Ken Hitchcock

1986 Division Finals:
Rob Brown
-For the 3rd season in a row the Blazers ended the Hawk's season this time by a 5 game to 1 margin. Adding insult to injury the Blazers beat the Hawks twice in the Memorial Cup that Portland hosted. Kamloops would lose in the semi-finals to the QMJHL champion. Rob Brown was MVP in '86 and Portland's Glen Wesley was Defenseman of the year.

1987 Division Finals:
Glen Wesley
-The Scotty Munro trophy winning and WHL record setting goal scoring(496) Blazers would fall for the first time in 4 years to the Hawks by a 5 game to 3 margin. Sweet revenge for the Hawks would only take them to the next round(WHL Final), where they lost to Medicine Hat. Brown would again be MVP and Wesley would again  be Defenseman of the year en route to successful NHL careers for both of them.

1989 Division Finals:
Dennis Holland
-After missing each other in '88, the Hawks and Blazers renewed their playoff rivalry, with Portland again ousting Kamloops by a 5 game to 3 margin. The Blazers just could not keep up with the high scoring, Dennis Holland and Troy Mick led Hawks. Portland would lose in the WHL Final again, this time to Swift Current. On an odd note, Mick would end up coaching the Blazers for a season in 2002-03.

1993 Division Finals:
-A year after winning the Memorial Cup, the Blazers fell to the Hawks in 5 games. Portland would again be felled in the WHL Final after beating Kamloops, this time by Swift Current. Colin Foley and Nick Vachon led the Hawks in scoring.

1994 Division Finals:
Steve Passmore
-Kamloops won the Scotty Munro Trophy and Portland had the second best record in the league. These top tier teams went at each other all year culminating in the Blazers defeating the Hawks in 6 games. The Hawks would not go quietly after Kamloops Coach Don Hay seemingly sent a goon after Portland's leading scorer Lonny Bohonos the benches emptied and even Hay and Portland Coach Brent Peterson got into it verbally. Kamloops would go on to win their second Memorial Cup in 3 years. Portland General Manager Ken Hodge was also irritated by the Blazers this year as they seemed to get top goalie Steve Passmore from the Victoria Cougars for a lot less then the Hawks were offering them. Passmore was named Playoff MVP.

1995 Division Semi-Finals:
 -For the 3rd year in a row and 9th time in 13 seasons the Hawks and Blazers faced off, Kamloops taking it this time in 5 games. The Blazers would again win the Memorial Cup, their 3rd in 4 seasons and the last they would achieve so far. Todd Robinson was named Rookie of the Year for the Hawks and Nolan Baumgartner was named both Defenseman of the year and Playoff MVP for the Blazers.
Nolan Baumgartner

2012 Division Semi-Finals:
-After their matchup in '95 the Blazers and Hawks would not meet again for 17 seasons. This was long enough for many of the players participating in the 2012 matchup to not have been born, the last time the teams met up. It was only fitting that after so long apart the two teams got the most out of it. This time the Hawks roared to a 3-0 lead in the series and the Blazers came back with comeback victories in 3 straight games, forcing a game 7. Portland finally committed to team defense and won a 2-0 game to advance to the WHL Final, where they would lose in 7 to Edmonton.

Overall the Blazers and Hawks have only met for one series that would go the distance, but you could not say that these matchups were not entertaining.For many years it seemed like one of the 2 teams would represent the Western Conference every single time. So, it bodes well for both franchises that they are again meeting on the cusp of the WHLFinal.

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