Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Saskatoon Blades Preview

Memorial Cup Host: Saskatoon Blades : 44-22-2-4, 94 Pts 2nd in the Eastern Conference of the WHL.

-Regular Season:

Josh Nicholls

Darren Dietz
-It was an extremeny tumultuous season for Lorne Molleken and the Blades as they had a horrendous start to the season and then reeled off 18 wins in a row towards the end of the season. The Blades also stripped the captainship of 19 year old Duncan Siemens and pinned it on 20 year old newcomer Brenden Walker. They made 16 trades throughout the season, as they seemed to never be satisfied with the makeup of the team. Though, when you can add 20 year old proven scorers like Michael Ferland and Brenden Walker from Brandon, you have to do it. The other part of their 3 20 year old top line: Josh Nicholls lead the team in regular season goal scoring with 47 goals and with 85 total points he tied Czech native Matej Stransky for the team lead. Walker had 76 pts and former Kelowna Rocket Shane McColgan had 66. Darren Dietz finished behind Troy Rutkowski for 3rd in WHL scoring for Defensemen with 58 points. Andrey Makarov had another solid year in net for the Blades, posting a 2.62 GAA and a .919 Save %.
Andrey Makarov

How They Got Here: -Well they were chosen as hosts and that is the only reason their season is still going. They made a late run for second place in the Eastern Conference and got to face off against lowly Medicine Hat in the first round. Former Winterhawk Cam Lanigan proved to be too much for th Blades as they were swept in 4 games. Nicholls, Stransky and Walker were all held without a goal. This early loss means that Saskatoon went 51 days without playing a game.

Matej Stransky
NHL Drafted or Owned:
-Forward-(20)Josh Nicholls-2010-Toronto-7th Round
-Forward-(19)Matej Stransky-2011-Dallas-6th Round
-Forward-(19)Shane McColgan-2011-N.Y. Rangers-5th Round
-Forward-(20)Michael Ferland-2010-Calgary-5th Round
-Forward-(19)Lukas Sutter-2012-Winnipeg-2nd Round
-Defenseman-(19)Darren Dietz-2011-Montreal-5th Round
-Defenseman-(19)Duncan Siemens-2011-Colrado-1st Round
-Defenseman-(19)Dalton Thrower-2012-Montreal-2nd Round
-Goalie-(19)Andrey Makarov-2012-Buffalo-Signed as a Free Agent

Duncan Siemens
So 9 total NHL owned prospects is a solid bunch, though they traded for 2 of them at the start or during the regular season.

History at the Memorial Cup:
-They were founded in 1964 and moved to the WHL in 1966, when it was founded. These mainstays are the only original WHL team, still in the same city.  Even though they have been in existence in the WHL for 46 years, they have never won the WHL title. Their only other trip to the Memorial Cup, was as hosts in 1989. they were the team that lost in over-time in the Memorial Cup final to the surviviors of the bus crash 2 years previous: the Swift Current Broncos. It is surpirsing that Saskatoon has never won a WHL title, even though legends such as: Wendel Clark, Bernie Federko and Brian Skrudland suited up for them.

Can Makarov Steal the Tournament?
-Andrey Makarov is noted for making otherworldly performances in short tournaments, while playing for Russia in the last 2 world juniors. Makarov nearly singlehandedly carried Russia to the Gold Medal game in 2012, before Sweden proved to be too much. He is certainly capable of standing on his head the rest of the way and will probably need to, should Saskatoon reach the promised land and hoist their first cup. He played great in their first game loss to London and even ebtter, when they shocked Halifax in their second game. However, with the amount of puck possession, Portland is sure to have, they will need Makarov to be just as good, if not better, in order to win and clinch a spot in the final.

Does This Team Know How to Win?
-This is a fair question to ask, as the Blades have lost 12 straight WHL playoff games. They were swept by a poor Medicine Hat squad this year, were swept by a much stronger Tiger's team last year and after advancing to the 2nd round in 2011, were ousted by Kootenay in 4 straight, despite owning the best regualr season record and the #1 seed. It really seems that once things start going sideways for the Blades, they tend to over-react and end up getting beaten quite easily, even by teams they are more talented then. There is something to be said about a winning culture and the franchise that has never won a WHL title, cannot really have one can they. However, this year they brought in many other players that have playoff experience. McColgan with Kelowna and Ferland and Walker played in the Memorial cup 2 years ago, so maybe they can help bring this team somewhere it has never been.

All Three 20 Year Olds on the Same Line?
-Talk about throwing all your experience onto one line. That being said, this line was great in the first game against London, showing the experience and poise needed to calm a team after 51 days of pent up energy. Walker, Ferland and Nicholls, bring a lot of size and experience at you and hopefully the Hawks defense can contend with this different speed pitch.

Random Notes:
-The one time Portland played Saskatoon this year, was on their Eastern swing, when they shut them out 4-0 in the very same building they will be playing in tonight.
-Mac Carruth needs to play like he did vs. London on Monday and Portland should be alright, that being said, Makarov is the type ogf Goalie the Hawks have strugglled with at times. This tournament hasn't had a really low scoring game yet, so I'd look for that as the 2 solid defenses tighten up.

Halifax Destroys London 9-2, Advances to at Least the Semi-Final

The Halifax Mooseheads became the first team to advance to at least the semi-final, Tuesday night with a 9-2 demolishing of a tired London squad. London had played the previous night in a loss to Portland.

The win means Halifax ends round robin play with a 2-1 record. If Saskatoon beat Portland tonight, the Blades own the tie-breaker and will automatically advance to the final. If Portland beats Saskatoon tonight, Halifax owns the tie-breaker over Portland and they will advance to the final.

With the loss, 1-2 London clinched a spot in Thursday's tie-breaker game with the loser of the game tonight betweent he Blades and the Hawks.

Martin Frk lead the way for the Mooseheads with 3 goals and 1 assist, as they stormed out to a 5-0 first period lead, chasing starting Goalie Jake Patterson, in favor of backup Anthony Stolarz. He was no better, as he gave up 4 more to the surging QMJHL champs. Depth player Darcy Ashley also contributed 2 goals and an assist, while Nathan Mackinnon and Jonathan Drouin both notched 3 assists.

Zachary Fucale stopped 26 of 28 shots, while Patterson stopped 6 of 11 and Stolarz 22 of 26. The Halifax power play was 2/9 and is now 4/20 in the tournament. London was 0/4 and is now 2/13 in the tournament.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hawks Survive Knight's Comeback, Win 6-3

The Portland Winterhawks came out inspired in their 2nd Memorial Cup game, jumping out to a 3-0 2nd period lead, before letting London come back and tie it. This was the point against Halifax on Saturday, where the wheels came off in a 3 goal loss. Instead, the Hawks pushed right back and walked away with a 3 goal victory. They relied heavily on a great performance from their netminder Mac Carruth, who was challenged even more then he was in giving up 7 goals Saturday.

After some tight defensive play on both sides, Taylor Leier opened the scoring eith 3:07 left in the opening period, off a nice deflection of a Tyler Wotherspoon shot. The deflection beat starting Knights Goalie Anthony Stolarz through his 5-hole and gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead after 1. Portland out-shot London 12-9 in the period.

The Hawks second line built on their momentum when, after a great cycle, Oliver Bjorktrand took a Leier feed and spun around for a shot that beat Stolarz high. Then the Hawks took their 3-0 lead 10:27 into the period, when Ty Rattie pulled the same move he made on Saturday. He toe dragged the puck away from 2 Knights D-men and then backhanded it past an out of position Stolarz. The lead would last only 11 seconds however, as Knights Captain Scott Harrington lead his team out of the abyss. He drove the net off a turnover then pulled up and wired a wicked wrist shot past Carruth's blocker and into the top corner of the net.  London was not done, as off a power play rush, they scored what could be the goal of the tournament. Max Domi got off a pass to Bo Horvat by putting his stick between his legs and flipping it to the driving Horvat. Horvat did not let the puck hit the ice, before he deflected it past a sliding Carruth, making it 3-2 after 2 periods. Portland out-shot London 13-12 in a fast paced second period.

Harrington battles Nic Petan
Alex Broadhurst would tie the score for the Knights only 1:38 into the 3rd, off a rebound in front. The Hawks could have been sent reeling after blowing yet another multi-goal lead, but instead responded as they have more most of the season and playoffs. On the power play, Derrick Pouliot took a nice pass from Ty Rattie and beat Stolarz on the blocker side to re-take the lead. Then Chase De Loe, the only oone form his line without a goal, got in on the action, beating Stolarz off a pass from Bjorkstrand for the 2 goal cushion. Taylor Leier would steal an outlet after London had pulled Stolarz for an extra attacker and he pushed it up to Hawk's leading playoff goal scorer, Rattie, who fired it into the empty net to put the game away.

Carruth was much, much better in this game as he made many spectacular saves. He even made one with the back of his pad. He stopped 25 of 28 shots. Stolarz, got the start after Jake Patterson started Friday vs. Saskatoon. Stolarz stopped 31 of 36 shots. He made several big stops, to help keep the Knights close, but did not provide the performance that was going to be needed to beat the Hawks in this one. Portland 1/3 on the power play and is now 3/11 in the tournament. London was also 1/3 on the power play and is now 2/9 in the tournament.

Carruth stops Bo Horvat
3 Stars:
#3- Bo Horvat- 1 goal and 1 assist, but really lead the Knights when they needed him to. His goal was soomething you will probably see on sportscenter, it was that good.

#2- Ty Rattie- 2 goals and an assist for the future NHLer. He now has 6 points in 2 games in the tournament. This is not surprising as he has always stepped up his game in the biggest games.

#1- Taylor Leier- His second line played awful in their first game of the tournament and really have not been that effective since the Spokane series. Leiere changed that in this one, getting one goal and two assists, but really leading the way and creating matchup issues for the Knights.

Random Notes:
-All 4 teams are now 1-1 overall. This is the second straight year this has happened, but also only the second time since 1983.
-Hawks play next on Wednesday vs. Saskatoon, while London plays Halifax on Tuesday.

Monday, May 20, 2013

London Knights Preview

OHL Champion London Knights 68 GP 50-13-0-5 105 Pts, 1st in the OHL
-Regular Season:
London won the top seeding in the OHL, by having 9 points more then the next best team (Belleville). Leading the Knights in scoring was long-time NHL tough guy Ty Domi's kid: 17 year old, top pro prospect Max Domi, with 87 points in 64 games. Another 17 year old and sure to be picked prospect: Bo Horvat chipped in 61 points, whole 19 year old forwards Seth Griffith and Alex Broadhurst had 81 and 63, respectively. On defense for London they were lead by Finnish product: Oli Maata and their captain: Scott Harrington. Also, on the back end is 6'6" Russian: Nikita Zadorov. Most of the time, in the regular season was split between Jake Patterson (32 GP) and Kevin Bailie (27 GP), but Anthony Stolarz also saw 20 games between the pipes.
Max Domi

How They Got Here:
Alex Broadhurst
-Swept the 8th seed Saginaw Spirits, beat the 4th seed Kitchener Ramgers 4 games to 1, beat the 2nd seeded Plymouth Whalers 4 games to 1 and overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the injury ridden Barrie Colts in 7 games. Domi again lead the way for the Knights with 32 playoff points in 21 games. Broadhurst, Griffith and Horvat followed him with 28, 25 and 23 points respectively. 18 year old Ryan Rupert, provided strong secondary scoring with 11 playoff goals, as well. Maata and Harrington were again the defensive stalwarts and were joined by 19 year old Tyler Ferry to lead the team in ice time. Anthony Stolarz was the horse for most of the playoffs until he trialed 3-1 in the OHL Final. He was yanked for Jake Patterson, who performed adequately, supposedly stealing the starting gig. Knights Coach Dale Hunter, he of the 1 year head coaching experience with the Washington Capitals last season, proved he was not so easy to figure out, when he went back to Stolarz for their tournament opening win over Saskatoon Friday. My guess would be that he continues to go with Stolarz, as long as he is winning the big games.
Jake Patterson

NHL Drafted or Owned:
-Forward-(19)Seth Griffith- 2012-Boston-5th Round.
-Forward-(19)Alex Broadhurst- 2011-Chicago-7th Round.
-Forward-(18)Chris Tierney-2012-San Jose-2nd Round.
-Forward-(18)Ryan Rupert-2012-Toronto-6th Round.
-Forward-(18)Josh Anderson-2012-Columbus-4th Round.
-Defenseman-(18)Olli Maata-2012-Pittsburgh-1st Round.
-Defenseman-(19)Scott Harrington-2011-Pittsburgh-2nd Round.
-Defenseman-(19)Justin Sefton-2011-San Jose-3rd Round.
-Defenseman-(20)Tommy Hughes-2013-N.Y. Rangers-Free Agent.
-Goalie-(18)Anthony Stolarz-2012-Philadelphia-2nd Round.

-So, the London Knights have 10 NHL drafted or owned players, spread all over the ice. They seem to be just a solid team, without many weaknesses, besides Goalie issues that have plagued them only during the playoffs. Like the Hawks, they only depend on their Goalie to make a few solid stops a game. 5 of the 10 players were drafted in the first few rounds. Pittsburgh is sure to have some scouts at this game as Maata, Harrington and Portland's Derrick Pouliot were all top picks for them.

History at the Memorial Cup:
-London first got a Junior team back in 1965, in the days when NHL teams sponsored or owned most Junior teams. They were bought and re-named(the Knights) in 1968 by a Toronto businessman. DEspitethis long history and the amount of future NHL stars that came through London: Darryl Sittler, Rob Ramage, Brendan Shanahan, Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Patrick Kane, they have only qualified for 2 Memorial Cups, before this one. Their previous trips to the CHL promised land were in 2004-05, when they beat the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic in the Final. They also went last year and lost to the QMJHL's Shawinigan Cataractes in the Final.

Is Their Defense Better Then the Hawks'?
-They are lead by Maata and Harrington who have to compare with Jones and Wotherspoon as 2 of the better D-men not playing in the NHL. After those two, they can throw Tyler Ferry, Nikita Zadorov, Tommy Hughes and Josh Sefton at you, which probably makes them a little deeper then the Hawks, who have been using only the top 4 D-men so far in the Cup. I would still give the Hawks the edge, due to the amount that their forwards contribute offensively, while still not giving the other team anything in their own zone.
Olli Maata

Which Jake Patterson Will Show Up?
-Patterson had a 2.61 GAA and a .913 Save % in the regular season, but was spotty in the playoffs, leaving Hunter to have to yank him in order to win the OHL. Maybe this was just the wake up call that he needed to right his game in the tournament. Though he won the game 3-2 over Saskatoon Friday, he was outplayed by the Blade's Makarov and relied on his defense to limit Saskatoon's chances. It is also likely that London was able to take advantage of a team that had not played in nearly 2 months, as they played much better vs. Halifax on Sunday.

Hungrier After Loss Last Year?
-London had the best record after the first round in last year's Cup, so they automatically advanced to the Championship game, where they lost to Shawinigan 2-1 in OT, in a heart-breaking final. A lot of the key contributors to last year's run are back, except Goalie Michael Houser, who is now playing professionally for the Florida Panther's organization. The remaining players have got to be feeding off this loss, as much as the Hawks are feeding off the suspension of Mike Johnston, leading me to believe that both teams are going to come out energized for this one.

Random Notes:
-Scott Harrington was a teammate of Tyler Wotherspoon's and Ty Rattie's on this last year's Canadian World Junior team.
-Taylor Leier needs to be better for the Hawks. One would think that a guy with his character would come out and play better in front of his home town of Saskatoon.
-Ryan Rupert was suspended 5 games earlier in the season for swinging his stick at the mid-section of another player.
-The game goes at 5pm tonight Pacific Time.

Host Saskatoon Stuns Halifax 5-2 Sunday

Dallas Stars prospect Matej Stransky(above) had 2 goals Andrey Makarov stopped 29 of 31 shots, as the Saskatoon Blades won the first game for the WHL at the tournament 5-2 Sunday night.

Far from the offensive outburst they showed against the Hawks the night before, Halifax struggled against Makarov and the Blades, not scoring until 6:48 into the 3rd period.

Saskatoon scored 1 in the first and 1 in the second, on their way to a 4-0 3rd period lead. After Stephen MacAulay and Nathan Mackinnon scored to cut their lead to 2, with 11:41 left in the game, Halifax was pushing. This proved to be too little too late, because Josh Nicholls scored a empty netter with 2 seconds left, to put it away. This was Nicholls' 3rd of the tournament in 2 games.

The Blades went 1/6 on the power play and are now 1/8 in the tournament. Halifax went 0/5 and is now 2/11 in the tournament. Haifax Goalie Zachary Fucale stopped 26 of the 30 shots he faced.

Saskatoon carries a 1-1 record into what is sure to be a huge game for both team, when they face Portland on Wednesday night. Halifax now is also 1-1 and faces London on Tuesday night.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hawks Fall in Opener to Halifax 7-4

Halifax's top unit had been amazing all through the QMJHL playoffs and they continued their torrent pace on the usually stalwart Portland defense with a 7-4 victory in the Memorial Cup opener for both teams. Nathan Mackinnon lead the way with 3 goals and 1 assist for the Mooseheads and seemed to score from every angle against a porous Mac Carruth.
Mackinnon shooting one of his many shots on Carruth

The first period had a tight checking pace to it as Portland outshot Halifax 16-7 and only 2 total penalties were called. Halifax opened the scoring with Detroit prospect Martin Frk, beat Carruth on a soft shot through his 5-hole, scoring his first of the tournament with 4:14 left in the period off a feed from Mackinnon. Seth Jones did the other prospect one better off a terrific feed from Nic Petan on the rush, as he flipped it past the glove hand of Mooseheads Goalie Zachary Fucale to tie the score less then a minute later.
Jones celebrating after his goal

The second period was one of the wilder periods in Junior Hockey that I've seen recently. Halifax and Portland combined for 33 shots on goal and the pace of the game changed completely. Portland would take advantage first with another Defenseman scoring as Troy Rutkowski beat Fucale only 39 seconds into the period. Then Portland took a 2 goal lead when Ty Rattie pulled an incredible move. He took the puck with a D-man on him in front of the Halifax net and pulled away from him, while forcing Fucale to go down, then he calmly slid a backhand into the open net. This was easily the goal of the game and will be shown across Canada as one of the highlights of the tournament. The Hawk's 2 goal lead would not hold up unfortunately as Halifax's other top prospect Jonathan Drouin answered back only a minute later. Not to be outdone, Mackinnon found the net ona nice deflection of a Brendan Duke point shot to tie the score. Then the Mooseheads got secondary scoring help as 25 regular season goal scorer Luca Ciampini beat Carruth on the power play to take the 4-3 lead. Sadly, Halifax was not done as Nathan Mackinnon scored on Carruth's worse goal let up of the night, visibly deflating his team. Mackinnon's goal was on the power play to insure the lead less then 3 minutes after the Ciampini goal.  He just threw it on net from a tight angle, solving Carruth easily.The next Halifax goal was short handed; Mackinnon scored off the rush and got off a weak shot. It still beat Carruth and gave the future top 3 pick a hat trick and his team a 6-3 lead. All 5 Mooshead goals occurred within 15 minutes of each other.
Mackinnon had 3 second period goals

Portland showed a little life in the 3rd period as Troy Rutkowski scored off a rebound in front on the power play, cutting the lead only 1:09 in. At thsi point the Hawk's seemed to be expecting their star 20 year old Goalie to make them one big save, as they controlled the flow of play. It was not to be, however, as Memorial Cup veteran Stephen MacAulay put the game away 5:33 in off a rebound and the game ended with a 7-4 score. The Hawks out-shot Halifax 11-9 in the period and 41-35 in the game.

Carruth played probably his worst game of the last few months as he stopped 28 of 35 shots and looked shaky for most of the game. Fucale was not much better but did make several fantastic stops, especially one on Nic Petan when the score was 6-4 in the 3rd and a goal would've changed everything. He stopped 37 of 41 shots. Halifax was an amazing 2/6 on the power play and the Hawks were 2/8.
Fucale: strong when he needed to be

3 Stars:
#3- Ty Rattie- 1 goal and 2 assists from the Hawks leader, as he was one of the few Hawks who really seemed to be able to solve the Moosehead's defense at will.

#2-Martin Frk- The somewhat over-looked other member of Halifax's top line was great in this one.  He had a goal and an assist but played great both ways. His goal in the first was sorely needed as the Mooseheads appeared to be back on their heels.

#1- Nathan Mackinnon- Could it be anyone but the soon to be superstar. He had 4 points and when paired against wither of the Hawk's top defensive pairings, seemed to be able to get decent shots off. Now 2 of his goals are probably on Carruth, but he knew what he was doing in throwing pucks at the net.

Random Notes:
-The big take away from this game is that Carruth has to be better, With the way the game flowed and the chances each team had, this simply said, should not have been a 7-4 games. In a short tournament like this, you need your goalie to play above average every game and he did not do that in this game.
-Sadly said, the Hawks live or die in the second period of games. They feed off the energy that a big goal gives them and when Halifax started pressing them, they could not make relatively simple defensive plays they they made all year.
-Halifax does have a ton of top end speed and is worthy of the #1 CHL ranking they had all year, but by no means did they play Portland out of the building.
-Derrick Pouliot was a -3 in this game despite having 3 assists. Rutkowkski and him did not play well defensively as all and Halifax was extremely happy with matching them up against the Mackinnon line.
-The next game for Halifax is Sunday against London, while the Hawks play Monday against the Knight as well.
-Puck drop is at 5pm Pacific time Monday. Hopefully the Hawks can respond as they have after losses all during the playoffs.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Halifax Mooseheads Preview

QMJHL Champion Halifax Mooseheads 68 GP 58-6-3-1-120 Pts, First in the QMJHL
-Regular Season:
Nathan Mackinnon
The Mooseheads were lead to an amazing regular season by a young combination of Jonathan Drouin and Nathan Mackinnon who both at 17, scored 105 and 75 points each in only 49 and 44 games respectively. They blew through the QMJHL, only losing 6 games in regulation over 68 total played. Another 17 year old(and draft eligible player) Zachary Fucale had a 2.35 GAA with a .909 Save %, good enough for second in the league.
Jonathan Drouin

 How They Got Here:
-Swept the St. John's Sea Dogs 4-0(outscoring them 25-4); swept the Gatineau Olympiques(outscoring them 21-5); swept the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4-0 and beating the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4 games to 1. I don't think it's possible to blow through your competition more thouroughly then they did, winning 16 of 17 games. Drouin dropped 35 points in those games, Mackinnon dropped 33 and their linemate Martin Frk also scored 33. 17 year old defensman Brendan Duke was an astounding +23 in those 17 games and Fucale had a 2.02 GAA and a .918 Sv %, improving on their regular season numbers.
Brendan Duke

NHL Drafted or Owned:
-Forward (18)Martin Frk-Detroit-2012-2nd Round.
-Forward  (20)Stephen MacAulay-2010-St.Louis-6th Round.
-Defenseman (20)Konrad Abeltshauser-2010-San Jose-6th Round.
-Center-(19)Brent Andrews-2011-Nashville-7th Round.
Martin Frk

Though there is not a ton of already drafted top talent, they make up for that with Mackinnon and Drouin sure to be drafted in the top 5 and Fucale sure to be the first Goalie taken. There have been many mock drafts in which Portland's Seth Jones goes #1 and Mackinnon and Drouin follow him at #s 2 and 3.
Zachary Fucale

History at the Memorial Cup:
-Though, since their inception into the QMJHL in 1994, the Nova Scotian club has had the likes of J.S. Giguere, Brad Marchand, Alex Tanguay and Pascal Leclaire suit up for them, they have only made one previous Memorial Cup and that was as host in 2000.
-2000 Cup- Halifax won their first 2 games as hosts, before losing in the semi-final to OHL Champ Barrie Colts.
-Though most of their team had never even been to the QMJHL final, they traded for Stephen MacAulay who was in the last 2 Memorial Cups with St. John.
Stephen MacAulay

Hawks in Trouble?:
-This opening game with Halifax is the one game that everyone who even pays a little attention to CHL hockey, is geared up for this game Saturday at 5pm. There is at least 6 players that will probably go in the first 2 rounds of June's NHL draft.
-The Hawks game depends on their skilled defense and forwards controlling a majority of the puck and forcing the other team into chasing after them. This may not be the case with Halifax. Not only do they have an amazing top line that can compete with the Ty Rattie, Brendan Leipsic and Nic Petan line, they have many other forwards that contribute in many different ways. The Hawks may struggle with the amount of skill and depth that Halifax can throw at you.
-Another big question is whether or not Halifax Coach Dom Ducharme will try to break up Drouin and Mackinnon to avoid the Defensive pairing of Tyler Wotherspoon and Seth Jones? They may not need to, but if Jones and Wotherspoon are shutting the top line down, look for Ducharme to split the two up and try to force Rutkowski and Pouliot to stop one of them.
-Fucale's numbers are impressive, but like Mac Carruth has been accused of taking advantage of playing on a great team. I do not know whether I would go so far as to say that, but Fucale has yet to turn 18 and may be out of  his depth if Portland can get him uncomfortable.

Can Portland Take Advantage of Halifax's Defense?:
-Halifax is lead by 19 year olds Konrad Abeltshauser and Brandon Duke, as well as, 18 year old Mac Weegar. Abeltshauser seems to be the one that puts up points consistently, but the other two are strong at providing shut down defense. A lot of critics say that Halifax's defense cannot keep up with the premier teams out there. That said they bring a lot of experience and played an amazing shut down first two series of the playoffs, proving that they are under-rated and should not be over-looked, even by a team as offensively gifted.

Random Notes:
-MacAulay is the only player on either team that has any Memorial Cup experience.
-Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon played with Mackinnon and Drouin on Team Canada at this year's world juniors, while Seth Jones played against them.
-Halifax became the first Nova Scotian club towin the QMJHL this year.

Friday, May 17, 2013

London Knights Take the Opener over Host Saskatoon 3-2

London, lead by 17 year old, 6'6" 229 Lb. D-man Nikita Zadorov's 3rd period power play goal, squeeked past the WHL's Saskatoon Blades 3-2. London also got goals from Center Brett Welychka and a goal and an assist from Right Wing Seth Griffith. Both of Saskatoon's goals were scored by regular season 47 goal scorer Josh Nicholls.

London now carries a 1-0 record into back to back matchups with Portland and Halifax on Monday and Tuesday, while the host Blades are 0-1 and play Halifax on Sunday and Portland on Wednesday of next week.

Saskatoon's streak of playoff games lost now reaches 5 over a span of almost 2 months. Andrey Makarov stopped 30 of 33 shots, while London's Anthony Stolarz stopped 27 of 29. London was 1/6 on the power play and Saskatoon was 0/2.

Random Note:
-Refereeing in tonight's games was WHL veteran Regan Vetter who is known by Hawk's fans as the guy that cost them a game in their 2011 WHL Final with Kootenay when he called 8 first period penalties on them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hawks Past at Memorial Cup: A Mixed Bag

The Portland Winterhawks won the WHL with a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings Sunday, taking the Final in 6 games. This is their 5th trip to the CHL's Memorial Cup in their 36th year in Portland. Let's take a look back at the other 4 trips to the premier event in Major Junior Hockey:

1) 1981-82: Lost due to tie-breaker after the double round robin round.
 WHL-Portland, OHL-Kitchener, QMJHL-Sherbrooke
Cup Winning Rangers Squad
-In their 6th season in Portland, the Hawks rode a team lead by Ken Yaremchuk, Brian Shaw, Gary Nylund and Randy Heath to the President's trophy(WHL Championship) after defeating the Regina Pats in the final 4 games to 1. In those days the host city, Hull, Quebec in this case, did not automatically qualify and it was a 3 team tournament. Portland made history as the first U.S. based team to qualify for the cup. They did not build on this history however, as they dropped their opening game to Kitchener 9-2, giving up a then Memorial Cup record fastest goal to start a game at 11 seconds to future NHL 1,000 point man Brian Bellows. The Hawks responded with a 6-5 win over Sherbrooke and then got revenge on Kitchener, dropping them 4-2. They were then doomed by a 7-3 loss to Sherbrooke in their final game. This was a back breaker because all 3 teams finished tied with 2-2 records. Portland failed to advance because of their poor goal differential. Kitchener beat Sherbrooke in the championship game 7-4 for their first championship. Hall of fame Defensemen Scott Stevens and Al Macinnis were also on the championship winning Rangers. Defenseman Nylund made the all tournament first team for the Hawks.

2) 1982-83: Won their first Memorial Cup.
WHL-Lethbridge, OHL-Oshawa, QMJHL-Verdun, Host-Portland
Cam Neely
-For the first time, 4 teams were involved in the Memorial Cup. Portland was chosen as the host before the season started and showed why drawing, a near Memorial Cup record 54,090 total fans to the tournament. Portland added rookie Cam Neely to the lineup and he joined Yaremchuk and Heath to lead the team in scoring. They were defeated in the WHL Championship by Lethbridge and Ron and Rich Sutter. In a weird WHL rule, at the time, Portland was able to trade for back to back WHL MVP Mike Vernon, which greatly helped shore up their Goaltending issues. As hosts, Portland was chosen as the first team outside of Canada. The Hawks opened their tournament with a 7-6 win over Verdun and then a 10-5 win over Oshawa. They were done in by Lethbridge 9-3 in their 3rd game, but advanced to the title game regardless even though they had the same record as Oshawa, because the tie-breaker had been changed to most goals scored this year. Oshawa won in the semi-final but was no match for Portland again, as the Hawks won 8-3, earning their first Championship. Alfie Turcotte was named the tournament MVP for the Hawks, Mike Vernon was named Goalie of the tournament and Heath and Yaremchuk were named to the tournament first team.

3) 1985-86: Lost in round robin.
WHL-Kamloops, OHL-Guelph, QMJHL-Hull, Host-Portland.
Jacques Martin
-New Westminster, B.C. was originally chosen as the host for this year, but was unable to host it as the "Expo '86," was being held at around the same time. So the CHL chose Portland as their backup plan as the previous one was such a success. Ray Podloski, Dave Archibald and Glen Wesley lead these Hawks as they lost to the eventual WHL champions: Kamloops Blazers in the Division Finals. Portland lost to Hull 7-5 in their opening game and beat Guelph 6-4 in their second. The Ron Shudra lead Kamloops Blazers proved to be Portland's achilles this season, as they first beat them 6-5 and then 8-1 in the tie-breaker game. The Jacques Martin coached and Gary Roberts lead Guelph Platers would eventually win over Luc Robataille and Hull in the title game 6-2, claiming their first cup. Bob Foglietta was named to the all tournament first team for the Hawks.

4) 1997-98: Won their second Memorial Cup.
WHL-Portland, OHL-Guelph, QMJHL-Val d'or, Host-Spokane.

Belecki Making Yet Another Save
-Portland won their first cup in 15 years, as they rode a balanced offensive attack lead by Todd Robinson, Brenden Morrow and Marian Hossa and a solid defense lead by Andrew Ference, Kevin Haupt and Goalie Brent Belecki. The Hawks won the Scotty Munro Trophy for best regular season record and were able to easily advance past the first 2 playoff rounds before being forced to 7 games by a resillient Spokane Chiefs squad. Spokane later hosted their first Cup and set an attendance record. The Hawks swept Brandon in the WHL Final and thus qualified for their 4th Cup. The Hawks went undefeated in the round robin format for the first time in team history: beating Guelph 6-2, Val d'or 7-4 and Spokane 4-2. They automatically advanced to the champoionship game where they awaited a very game Guelph Storm team. Portland overcame an injury to Marian Hossa to win in overtime on a Bobby Russell goal 4-3. Andrej Pokonicky was the Cup leader in scoring with 10 points in 4 games. He was also named to the all tournament first team with Hossa.

Portland has not qualified for a Memorial Cup since 1998, until this year that is. They have a long road in front of them, but are every bit the talented team that they need to be in order to win a short tournament where one loss may doom you.

An interesting note is that every time the Hawks have played in the current 4 team round robin with a host team, the host has been from the wHL, with this year's host being the Saskatoon

Monday, May 13, 2013

London Knights Win in Dying Second 3-2; are Last Team In Memorial Cup

London Wins OHL Title
Bo Horvat scored with one second left in regulation to win Game 7 of the OHL Final, meaning they are the last team to join Portland (WHL), Sakskatoon (WHL-Host) and Halifax (QMJHL) in this week's Memorial Cup. London will open the Memorial Cup with a game against the host Saskatoon Blades.

I will go further into the team previews later in the week.

Oil Kings Frustrated by Under-Performers

Edmonton claimed they were the under-dogs coming into the WHL Final with Portland, but I doubt any WHL fan, bought this line.

So what went wrong for Edmonton? Was the series lost all due to missing Griffin Reinhart and Trevor Cheek? Or, was there something more amiss?

Edmonton has a slew of top end talent, 11 of which were either drafter or signed by NHL clubs. Cheek and Reinhart were only 2 of these players. So what happened with the other 9 players?

1)Keegan Lowe(Carolina)- 1 goal and 1 assist (both in game 1) and was a -1 in the series. Lowe had 6 points in 7 games in the previous series with Carolina. Lowe had his hands full trying to deal with Portland's top line and trying to right the ship, as he was voted the team's replacement captain.
Leipsic scoring on Lowe and Brossoit
2)Martin Gernat(Edmonton)- 2 assists and a -3. Gernat was the most disappointing player in my opinion, as he scored 6 goals in last year's final and was a close second (imo) to Brossoit for Finals MVP. Gernat was paired with Ashton Sautner for the entire series, despite an apparent lack of chemistry.

-Laxdal made very few changes to the lineup in this series, which was puzzling with the Oil King's inept and struggling offense.

3)Travis Ewanyk(Edmonton)- 1 goal , 1 assist and a -1, for the 3rd line center. Ewanyk won a majority of his draws but really failed to get that many chances going for his line-mates: Mitch Moroz and Edgars Kulda.

4)Mitch Moroz(Edmonton)- 1 goal off a great deflection in Game 4, but was a -4 in the series. Moroz, whose size and checks make his line difficult to deal with, seemed to struggle keeping up with the speedy Hawk's second line.

Mitch Moroz
5)David Musil(Edmonton)- 1 assist and a -1 for the former Vancouver Giant, and was the other D-man that got the matchup with Rattie's line. Musil was also tasked with quarterbacking the power play. Musil was traded for near the beginning of the year and Edmonton gave 17 year old Mason Geertzen in the deal. Musil was virtually a rental player for the Oil Kings and just did not replace Reinhart as they needed him to.

6)Henrik Samuellson(Phoenix)- 2 goals(both in Game 1) and was a -4 in the series. Samuellson took a dumb penalty in Game 4 and seemed to really be fighting it all series long. His line with Curtis Lazar and Stephane Legault is by far the most talented one Edmonton throws at you. They have played together for almost 2 full years, but were not able to solve Carruth, Jones and Wotherspoon consistently.
Samuellson getting the worst of a collision with Taylor Peters

7)Stephane Legault(Edmonton)- 3 assists(all in Game 1) and was a -2 in the series. Legault created a few chances for his line, but whatever adjustments the Hawks made in playing against his line, worked.

8)Michael St. Croix(New York Rangers)- 3 goals and 1 assist and was a +2 in the series. St. Croix was one of the only Oil Kings that played up to expectations. He just seems to be consistent out there, never throwing up 3 goals and 2 assists in one game, but always crating and scoring when his team needs it. St. Croix finished with 26 points in the playoffs, good enough for 3rd. St. Croix's game winner in game 5 gave Edmonton more life then they probably should have had.

9)Laurent Brossoit(Calgary)- Finished with a 2.46 GAA and a 0.935 save percentage. Brossoit was the only reason that this was a 6 game series. He made timely save after timely save for the Oil Kings, but the Winterhawks were just too much.

So, 9 NHL drafted players for Edmonton and only 2 of them did not under-perform. The WHL final has got to be when you elevate your game higher then you played all season. This simply did not happen for the Oil Kings especially on the offensive side. This combined with Laxdal's inability to react by changing the lineup up, really seemed to be the formula for ending your season.

Even though they lost after making their second straight final, I would look for Edmonton to come right back for a 3rd in a row next year.


The Portland Winterhawks whose nickname this season has to be "Road Warriors," beat the Edmonton Oil Kings, winning the Ed Chyneweth WHL Championship cup in the process. Portland took the series 4 game to 2 and getting sweet revenge on the Edmonton team that defeated them the previous year. If that was not enough for these Hawks, Ty Rattie scored his 48th, 49th and 50th career playoffs goals, setting the WHL record with his 48th and then tacking on 2 more to further set himself apart.
Rattie scoring the record setting goal

Game 6 did not start well for the Hawks, as another bad bounce ended up behind Mac Carruth just 1:04 into the game. Travis Ewanyk threw a routine puck on net and it bounced off the skate and stick of Derrick Pouliot, giving Edmonton the 1-0 lead. Portland could have let down and get themselves ready for Game 7 the next night. Instead what happened next shocked the 7,000 plus Edmontonians present. Chase De Leo was given a 4 minute double minor for high sticking after his stick got up in the face of Henrik Samuellson. Edmonton's struggling power play had 4 minutes to get a couple goals and put the Hawks away early. Instead Nic Petan made an amazing play on much maligned D-man Martin Gernat, behind the Edmonton net. Petan picked Gernat's pocket and got the puck to a driving Ty Rattie. Rattie found the top corner and we were tied off of Rattie's short handed goal. Edmonton needed to settle down and slowly control play on the remaining power play. Instead they played desperate, turned the puck over again 2:47 later (still on the power play), with Rattie getting his 49th. Rattie found a loose puck, off a bad Edmonton pass and rushed the other direction, Rattie used Petan as a distraction and drove around behind the net, wrapping the puck around and beating Laurent Brossoit. At that point, down 2-1 after giving up 2 goals on one power play, Edmonton seemed shaken. A timeout seemed like the perfect thing to do for Derek Laxdal at this moment, but he did not.
A frustrated Laxdal after the game

In the second, Portland came out, took control and got an insurance marker 3:54 into the period. Mitch Moroz, who has not a great series for Edmonton threw a hit on Brendan Leipsic away from the play, earning an interference call. On the ensuing power play, Oliver Bjorkstrand took a great feed from Tyler Wotherspoon in the slot and slipped it through Brossoit's 5-hole, making it 3-1. The game would ultimately hinge on 2 plays late in the second period. First Curtis Lazar slipped free and got in on a breakaway on Mac Carruth. Carruth dove and poke-checked it from Lazar's stick before Lazar could get a shot off. Then mere moments later, Rattie really made it a night to remember when he took a great feed from Petan in the front of the net, outwaited Brossoit and flipped a backhand into the gaping net.
Carruth's save on Lazar

In the third, Portland showed why they only lost 2 leads in the final session, when they buckled down and played fantastic defense. Not giving Edmonton any great chances for the rest of the game. Even when Taylor Peters took a dumb penalty flipping the puck out of play, giving Edmonton another power play. Then, when they pulled Brossoit for an extra attacker, Taylor Leier intercepted a pass, juggled the loose puck and flipped it into the empty net and clinching the title.The Portland bench was rather demure until this goal and then the bench started jumping up and down. The celebration was mostly controlled, as this team knows they have one more goal in mind: hoisting the Memorial Cup.

The first game of the round robin series is against the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL on Saturday 5/18 at 4pm.

Carruth had a great series after a forgettable Game one: stopping 26 of 27 shots. Brossoit stopped 21 of 24 and was really not the reason they could not repeat. The real reason has to be that they went 0/16 in the series on the power play, with 3 short handed goals against. Portland went 1/2 in this game and 3/21 in the series.

3 Stars:
#3- Mac Carruth- Did not have to stand on his head in this series, as his team played textbook defense and just relied on him to make one big save and they would take care of the rebounds. Carruth is this team's old reliable as they play their best defense when this guy plays behind them and is at his best.

#2- Nic Petan- 2 fantastic feeds for Rattie goals and was considerate enough to pick up the record setting puck for Rattie to save. Petan's speed and strength on the puck really caused matchup issues for the Oil Kings Defensemen.

#1- Ty Rattie- How could it not be the best playoff scorer in WHL history? Rattie always seems to perform best when his team needs him too. Rattie was turned away time and time again in Game 5, but rebounded and solved Brossoit 3 times in Game 6.

Random Notes:
-This WHL Championship was the Hawk's 3rd. The last 2 were in 1982 and 1998. Of those 2 trips: Portland won the Cup in 1998.
-This week: I will take a closer look at Portland's previous trips to the Memorial Cup.
-Seth Jones gets another shot at the other 2 top 3 ranked pro prospects in the first game at the cup as Nathan Mackinnon and Jonathan Drouin play for Halifax.
-The OHL champ has not been decided yet, as Barrie plays London in Game 7 tonight.
-Rattie was named the WHL Finals MVP as he had 5 goals in the series.
-Rattie had 36 points in the WHL playoffs and finished tops in the league. Petan finished right behind him with 28 points.
-Carruth finished number one in the WHL with a 1.63 GAA overall.
-Portland outscored Edmonton 16-10 in the series.
-Preston Kopeck came out to celebrate the title and was sporting a cast on his left wrist. No word on how serious the injury is. Hopefully he can be back for Saturday's game. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oil Kings Survive in Over Time 3-2, Forcing Game 6

Edmonton lived another day, after Michael St. Croix scored seven minutes into over time in a 3-2 Game Five win, Friday night. Mac Carruth and Laurent Brossoit waged a goal-tending duel for much of the game, turning aside quality chance after quality chance, in which was easily the fastest paced game of the series.

Joey Baker, he of 1 regular season goal, drove the Edmonton zone off the opening draw and slipped a backhand shot past the left pad of Brossoit, for his 3rd of the playoffs, 15 seconds into the game. Baker's deceptive speed caught the Oil King's defense and he got right in on Brossoit before the fans even took their seats. Edmonton got some "puck luck," back when T.J. Foster's centering pass went off the back-checking Nic Petan's skate and past Carruth. The "shot," was set up when Dylan Wruck won a corner battle and got the puck to T.J. Foster at the side of the net for his 4th of the playoffs 10:14 into the first, tot tie it up at 1.
Foster battling Taylor Peters

No goals were put past the battling tenders in the second period, all the more impressive for Brossoit, who stopped 15 shots in the period.

7:01 into the third period, Mac Carruth attempted to sling the puck along the boards behind the net and it took another unfortunate bounce, ending up on Dylan Wruck's stick again. Wruck got it to St. Croix who was able to shoot the puck into the vacant net, as Carruth could not get back in time. Yet another unfortunate bounce for Carruth ,as he deserved a better fate then allowing the 2 "puck luck," goals. Portland was able to get that one back with a ferocious rally late in the game, culminating in Brendan Leipsic slipping a rebound past Brossoit with less then 6 minutes left in the game.
St. Croix after his winning goal

Over time was needed as both teams' quality chances were turned away by the experienced net minders. This was until, St. Croix took advantage of a loose puck and wired a shot over the shoulder of Carruth and into the top corner of the net. St. Croix's game winner means we will have at least one more game, as Portland's lead in the series is trimmed to 3 games to 2.

3 Stars:
#3- T.J.Foster- Seemingly the quickest Oil King, his play has really been the most consistent of any Oil King player.

#2- Dylan Wruck- Creating many opportunities for Edmonton, Wruck is another who creates matchup issues for the Portland Defense, as he is stocky and low to the ground, winning many battles on the boards.

#1- Michael St. Croix- The New York Rangers prospect was the hero for the visiting team in this one and played easily his best game of the series. St. Croix seems to go through long periods without being an affective player, but when he dialed in...look out.

Game 6 goes Sunday at 3pm, in Edmonton.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Portland One Win Away with 2-1 Game 4 Win

The Portland Winterhawks are just one win away from their 5th appearance in the Memorial Cup after dispatching Edmonton on the road, for the second night in a row. A commitment to team defense really showed for the Hawks as their relentless back-checking just would not allow Edmonton any clean looks at the net. Any clean looks they did get, were turned away by a stellar Mac Carruth. Edmonton seems to be holding their stick a little tighter now as they have scored but one goal (and that was nearly called back) in 174 minutes and 44 seconds of hockey. They also have not scored on their last 29 chances on the power play.

Portland opened the scoring when Nic Petan went end to end with the puck and blew by Oil Kings D-man Ashton Sautner, backhanding the puck on net. Sautner and the other Edmonton players in front could not corral it and Brendan Leipsic found it, flipping it past Laurent Brossoit or his 9thof the playoffs with 2:47 left in the first. There would be no more scoring in the opening period, because both Brossoit and Carruth turned away some very good opportunities. Seth Jones lead a 2 on 1 break and was turned aside twice by Brossoit's pad on one of them.
Leipsic Celebrating His Goal

Portland extended their lead in the second on the power play, only their second of the series. Some beautiful touch passing by Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic, set up Troy Rutkowski all alone in the slot. The Captain made no mistake filing it past Brossoit for his 4th of the playoffs. Edmonton really played a tight checking game in this period, as they seized the momentum, out shooting Portland 12-4. Of this 12, 3 or 4 were very good scoring opportunities. Carruth was there to stop all of them however.
Rutkowski Jubilant After His Goal Made it 2-0

The Oil Kings finally got a goal and it was a strange one. Cody Corbett, right after their power play ended fired a slap shot on net. Carruth let out a rebound high in the air that big Mitch Moroz deflected out of the air. He then deflected it again, this time into the net behind Carruth 4:45 into the period, for his 2nd of the playoffs. The goal was reviewed for several minutes, but there was not enough substantial evidence to show Moroz's stick above the cross bar, thus turning this into a one goal game. The Hawks really showed that they are a very poised team, because after the Moroz goal they buckled down their defense and made sure that Carruth saw every hot coming at him. He did not have to make any more amazing saves after the Moroz goal, as his defense, cleared out anything dangerous from in front of him. Curtis Lazar did have a glorious chance all alone on the back door, with Carruth out of position, but he put it wide. Carruth has only given up 2 goals in the lat 3 games of this series, against the team that finished the regular season with the second best offense in the WHL.
Carruth Turning Away Stephane Legault

Carruth turned away 29 of the 30 shots he faced and Brossoit stopped 19 of 21. The Hawk's powerplay got back on track going 1/4 in this one, while the Oil Kings went 0/4.

3 Stars:
#3- T.J. Foster- In my opinion he was the best Oil King player out there tonight. He created for his line mates and for himself. It is really a testament to Carruth that the kept him to the 1 assist.

#2- Brendan Leipsic- 1 goal and 1 assist for the wild haired little guy. He was just in the right place at the right time for his goal, whereas his assist was one of the more skilled plays of this series.

#1- Mac Carruth- Could it be anybody but the overage goalie and his beard that he named "Carol." Carruth stood tall for the Hawks and seems to be getting more and more comfortable and confident as this series keeps going. He is not getting as involved in the after the whistle shenanigans as he did in game 1.

Random Notes:
-Henrik Samuellson took one of the stupider penalties I've seen, when he lost control of his stick and high sticked Troy Rutkowski in the face with 55 seconds left and his team down one goal. Edmonton Coach Derek Laxdal looked irate on the bench after the penaltie. Samuellson simply cannot do that with his team about to pull their goalie for the extra attacker. He really continues to show a lack of discipline in this series.
-One of the keys that I highlighted after the Hawks regular season loss to Edmonton was that Portland's speed seemed to give a lot of Edmonton's D-men fits. That continued tonight as Nic Petan victimized Ashton Sautner on the Leipsic goal. Sautner has had a really tough series so far, especially against the Hawk's top line.
-16 year old Dyson Mayo and his partner Code Corbett, continue to get their fair share of the minutes, as Laxdal believes in spreading the minutes across his 3 D pairings. Travis Green has not done this for the Hawks as Josh Hanson got 3 shifts and Shaun Mac Pherson 2 in this game.
-Green is now showing greater confidence in 16 year olds Keegan Iverson and Paul Bittner, however. They were playing with Taylor Peters, with less then 2 minutes left in the game. That is the latest in a tight playoff game I've seen them play thus far. This goes to show that he is starting to trust those 2 more and more and for good reason.
-Preston Kopeck was a puzzling scratch for the Hawks, as he has played excellent this series. Though, it was probably time to get 16 year old Dominic Turgeon some WHL Final experience. I would look for him to be back in the lineup for Game 5.
-Speaking of Game 5, that goes Friday night in Portland and the Rose Garden is already sold out.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Portland Takes 2-1 Series Leads with 3-1 Game Three Victory

The Portland Winterhawks brought themselves two victories away from the Memorial Cup after a mostly textbook Winterhawk victory. The Hawks rode 3 first period Goals to a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Edmonton. This victory extended the Hawks astounding road playoff road record to 7-1.

Portland again got the jump on the Oil Kings out shooting them 10-8 in the first period of Game Three, but really getting all of the quality scoring chances. They opened the scoring only 4:39 into the game when after another big Taylor Peters helped really send the momentum in the Hawks favor, Oliver Bjorkstrand found Taylor Leier in the high slot. Leier beat Edmonton Goalie Laurent Brossoit or his 9th of the playoffs and a 1-0 Hawks lead. The one Goal advantage would be extended by the Hawks after less then 4 minutes later when Nic Petan made an excellent play at his own blue line, poking the puck away from Stephane Legault and starting a two on one break the other way. Petan found Ty Rattie who lasered it past Brossoit for his 17th of the playoffs and WHL career playoff record tying 47th. Portland was not done though and got one more when Troy Rutkowski gloved the puck out of his own net at one end and lead a rush the other way, finding Oliver Bjorkstrand, who found the net beyond Brossoit, stunning the Oil King's crowd. Portland scored 3 goals on their first 10 shots in the game, taking a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.
Rattie Taking on Brossoit

Edmonton got one back in the second after killing a penalty. They started a rush the other way and utilized a tic tac toe play between T.J. Foster, Dylan Wruck and Michael St. Croix for St. Croix's 11th of the playoffs and cutting the lead to two. Edmonton created many chances in the second but were turned away by an increasingly focused Mac Carruth.
Carruth Stopping Curtis Lazar

Carruth would get even better in the third, when Edmonton turned up the heat with 20 shots. He turned away every single one of them.On the other end, Brossoit did not have to make many saves, but they were all on fantastic scoring opportunities set up by the conservative playing Hawks.

Carruth stopped 38 of 39 shots, while Brossoit turned away 26 of 29.The Portland power play was 0/3, making them 1/13 in the series, while Edmonton was 0/1 and is now 0/5 in the series and 0 for their last 25 in the playoffs.

3 Stars:
#3- Troy Rutkowski- 1 assist in the game but nary a bad defensive play and the play he made keeping it out of the Hawk's net was astounding.

#2- Oliver Bjorkstrand- 1 goal and 1 assist for the increasingly effective Forward from Denmark. He is winning so many battles along the boards, especially compared with where he was at in Game one.

#1- Mac Carruth- Making a statement in this one by being un-characteristically quiet and stopping all variety of shots that the Oil Kings could throw at him.

Random Notes:
-Rattie tied Marc Pederson (1985-88 Medicine Hat) with the 47th of his career in the playoffs.
-Portland switched up their third line sending in Preston Kopeck in with Keegan Iverson and Taylor Peters.
-This is probably more a testament to Kopeck's great play this series then anything Btittner did or did not do.
-Edmonton, after not scoring a goal for over a game and a half, finally made an adjustment, moving Dylan Wruck up to their top line in lace of Edgars Kulda and it paid immediate dividends.
-Tyler Wotherspoon left the game at the end of the second period and beginning of the third after going out with a skate issue.
-Josh Hanson took his place with Seth Jones and coughed up the puck in a bad spot, nearly leading to a goal.
-Dyson Mayo, the 16 year old is playing a lot for Edmonton as they have been spreading their ice time far more evenly across their three defensive pairings.He was out their for one of Portland's goals.
-Edmonton seems to want to pair their top line with the De Leo unit and it did not seem to play off, at least early.
-Game 4 goes tomorrow at 6 Pacific time.