Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hawks Take Third Western Conference Title in a Row With 4-1 Game 5 Victory

For the Third straight year, the city of Portland celebrated it's WHL team winning the Western Conference title. This is only the 6th time that a franchise has won 3 Conference titles in a row. It is only right that Portland did it their way, with great defense, timely saves and beautiful goals. Now they have just to wait for the winner of Tuesday night's Game 7 between Calgary and Edmonton to find out who their dance partner is.
Hawks Celebrating Their Third Straight Title

Portland opened the scoring with, Denny's WHL player of the week Seth Jone's 5th of the playoffs on the power play. Jones took a feed from Derrick Pouliot and blasted a point shot past a screened Cole Cheveldave and we were off to the races. Kamloops would have an answer in the first, 1 minutes later, when J.C. Lipon found bouncing puck at the side of the net. He wasted no time, getting his first of the series and tying the game.

Portland would take the lead in the second when a beautiful chip pass by Chase De Leo broke a 2 on 1 for his linemates: Taylor Leier and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Leier put home the Bjorkstrand pass, 4:23 into the period for his 7th of the playoffs. It could have been much worse for the Blazers in the period, but Cole Cheveldave made several spectacular saves and 15 total in the period.
Brendan Leipsic Shooting Saturday

Kamloops seemed to gaining momentum in the 3rd when Keegan Iverson took an ill advised penalty and they were rewarded with only their second power play of the game. Instead their most reliable player, over age: Brendan Ranford put the puck right on Ty Rattie's waiting stick at the Kamloops blue line. Rattie walked in alone and buried it short handed for the 3-1 lead. This seemed to take a lot of the wind out of Kamloop's sails and after Joel Edmondson took  dangerous hit in Preston Kopeck, the Hawks put the game away with their second power play goal of the night. It came after Cheveldave made a save on a Pouliot point shot and the puck ended up at the feet of Nic Petan, who buried it. 4-1 would be the series final and the final for the game, as the 9.742 went crazy.

Carruth was stellar again, making an amazing save on Tim Bozon in the 3rd and stopping 22of 23 overall/ Cheveldave, despite giving up 4 goals, had a solid night, stopping 37 of 41. Portland's power play wnet right on clicking, scoring on 2 of their 5 chances.

3 Stars:
#3- Mac Carruth- Though he stopped only 22 shots, he was stellar when he needed to be and was unshakable once again when Kale Kessy and other Blazers tried to get him off his game.

#2- Taylor Leier- Scored a big goal tonight and has been nothing short of amazing for the Hawks so far this playoff year. He wins so many battles along the boards, that he sets the tone for the rest of his line and team.

#1- Ty Rattie- The Western Conference Final MVP, to no one's surprise, finished with 12 points in 5 games and could have had many more.

Random Notes:
-Portland hosts Games 1 and 2 of the WHL Finals, this coming Friday and Saturday night at the Rose Garden.
-For the first time in recent memory, the WHL will not have their Commissioner host a press conference at the home of the team hosting the Final series. This cannot be to big of a surprise, as the WHL just fined and suspended the Hawks this year.
-The Colorado Avalanche won the NHL's draft lottery, meaning Seth Jones could go play for the team that he grew up cheering for.
-Joel Edmondon, was given two game misconducts after he left the bench to instigate a ruckus with the Portland bench.
-Edmonton could be without Captain Griffin Reinhart and Trevor Cheek, should they advance, as Reinhart is out for the year and Cheek is "doubtful."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Portland Dominates Defensively- Win 3-0 and Take 3-1 Series Lead

It was back to business as usual for the Hawks on Wednesday night in Kamloops as their defense once again dominated a seemingly over matched Kamloops squad 3-0. Portland got it's 2nd shutout of the series and 4th of the playoffs. They scored a couple first period goals and then road out the storm as Kamloops threw everything they had at the Hawks in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Games 5 goes Saturday night in Portland at the Rose Garden.

Seth Jones
Portland, for the 2nd game in a row was given a 5 on 3 power play. This, time it was Blazer's D-man Joel Edmundson taking down Nic Petan in front of the net from behind. Petan would get his revenge on the 5on 3, just 2:09 into the game when he banged home a back door feed from Ty Rattie, scoring his 7th of the playoffs.Then 11:43 into the game, Seth Jones used a Brendan Leipsic screen in front of the net, to score from the point, his 4th of the playoffs. The Hawks took a 2-0 lead into the 2nd, after out shooting Kamloops 12-6.

The Blazers would rebound and create their best scoring opportunities in the 2nd period, most coming from the top unit of J.C. Lipon, Tim Bozon and Colin Smith, as expected. They were foiled however, by an inability to finish in close, 2 posts and Carruth smothering any juicy rebounds.

Brendan Ranford
Nic Petan would make sure that they rued these missed chances, when he poked home a rebound off  a Ty Rattie shot for his 2nd of the game and 8th of the playoffs. Kamloops had a golden opportunity with 8:35 left in the game, when Keegan Iverson was penalized for charging. It was deemed by the linesman that Iverson checked Ranford high and to the head, meaning Kamloops had a 5 minute power play. Iverson was also given a game misconduct. Without Ranford, who left the game, their power play sputtered and Portland was able to coast to the Game 4 victory.

Carruth stopped all 29 shots he faced and Cole Cheveldave was 24 of 27. Portland finished 1/7 on the power play and Kamloops was 0/4.

3 Stars:
#3- Seth Jones- His calming presence once again anchored the Hawks defense. He also contributed offensively in this one, scoring once and setting up another.

#2- Ty Rattie- 3 assists take his career playoff points up to 88. He has 10 points in 4 games, in this series so far.

#1- Nic Petan- Was strong on the puck all night and won key battles, both in the faceoff circle and in the corners. His play on both ends of the ice has been really key to the Hawks ability to switch from defense to the attack seamlessly.

Random Notes:
-Iverson was not given a suspension for the Ranford hit, as it was deemed he made contact with Ranford's chest, not his head.
-Carruth got his 7th playoff shutout,  extending his team record.
-Rattie is now 3rd on the all time WHL playoff scoring list, behind former Blazer Greg Hawgood, who has 100.
-Iverson and Paul Bittner's physical play was key in the game and I could not see Coach Travis Green changing the lineup at all, unless injuries occur.
-Edmonton dominated Calgary 7-3, to know the series up at 2 games a apiece, heading back to Edmonton.
-Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton's Captain and the New York Islander's first round pick's foot was sliced by a skate in game 3 and it seems likely he is done for the season.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blazers Come to Life; Beat Hawks in Game 2: 5-1

Home cooking was very sweet for the Kamloops Blazers on Tuesday night as they handed the vaunted Portland Winterhawks their first road loss of the playoffs: 5-1. Cole Cheveldave was excellent for the Blazers and Tim Bozon showed his hand was healed with 4 points.
Cole Cheveldave

The Hawks would get their lone goal of the game, when they opened the scoring with a 5 on 3 power play goal 5:32 in, as Nic Petan found Ty Rattie all alone on the back door for his 14th of the playoffs. 11 minutes later,the Blazers would get their first goal in 134 minutes against Mac Carruth, when Colin Smith deflected a Tim Bozon shot past him to tie the score. This was the Blazer's first power play goal in 13 chances in the series.
Colin Smith

The second period would be where the game turned, as the Blazers scored 4 unanswered goals. First: Colin Smith corralled the puck behind the net and found a rushing Joel Edmundson for the 2-1 lead. Then, Shaun MacPherson made an ill-advised blind backhand pass that 4th liner Aaron Macklin gathered, going backhand wraparound by a sliding Mac Carruth for a 3-1 lead. After that Tim Bozon scored two in a row. First, Matt Needham took advantage of a tired Hawk's top unit and found Bozon all alone in front to make it 4-1. Then, Bozon scored his second of the game and 4th of the playoffs when a bad Taylor Peters play led to a breakaway goal. All 4 Blazer's goals were 16 minutes apart. Shots were actually tied at 11 in the period.
Tim Bozon

No goals were scored in the 3rd period, as Kamloops relied on Cole Cheveldave making several key stops. Portland outshot Kamloops 12-3 in the period.

Cheveldave stopped 35 of 36 shots and Carruth stopped 24 of 29. Kamloops was 1/5 on the power play and is now 1/15 in the series. Portland was also 1/5 in the game and is now 4/16 in the series.

3 Stars:
#3- Colin Smith- He got the party started for Kamloops with a nice tip for the first goal and a great feed for the second.

#2- Tim Bozon- 4 points in Game 3 are his most in a single playoff game this year. He had not scored a point since the first round.

#1- Cole Cheveldave- #1 with a bullet for me, as he stopped countless grade A scoring chances for the Hawks, including 2 breakaways.

Random Notes:
-Travis Green went with Joe Mahon and Paul Bittner in this one, sitting Keegan Iverson and Dominic Turgeon.
-Another point less night for the 2nd unit. They are really going to need to step it up for the Hawks in Game 4 Wednesday night.
-Kamloops went back to the Lipon-Bozon-Smith line in Game 3 and it worked, combining for 8 points.
-Tim Bozon had a goal disallowed in the 3rd after it was ruled that he deflected it in with a high stick.
-Calgary took down Edmonton 5-2 in Game in Calgary for a 2-1 series lead.
-Josh Hanson and Shaun MacPherson again showed that they were out of their depth, making costly turnovers against a heavy Blazer's forecheck. They forced the top 4 d-men to log some serious minutes late in the game, meaning they could be tired tonight.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hawks Shut Down Blazers on Way to 4-0 Game Two Win

Portland won their 7th in a row in these playoffs Saturday night, when they shut out the visiting Kamloops Blazers in front of 9,132 at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum. The play was much tighter checking in this one and there was not as much up and down play, but it still was an entertaining game, as is usually the case with Portland and Kamloops in the playoffs. Portland now takes a 2-0 series lead up to Kamloops Tuesday for Game 3.

Seth Jones opened the scoring 15:31 into the game, off a good rush, while both teams were changing lines. Jones saw that his path to the front of the net was cut off, so instead went around and slipped a backhand wraparound through Cole Cheveldave's 5-hole for his 3rd of the playoffs. That would be all the scoring the period, as both teams played a tight checking defensive style.
Seth Jones

The second period was when Kamloops created there best chances, twice getting pucks in behind Mac Carruth, that Portland Defenders Derrick Pouliot and Seth Jones had to pull away from the goal line. Things got worse for Kamloops, right after killing a penalty and Brendan Leipsic, with a terrific feed found, Ty Rattie all alone on the backdoor. Rattie pounded it home for his 13th of the playoffs to make it 2-0 after two periods.

Nic Petan
Just like in Game One, Portland got a quick 3rd period goal, this one on the power play as a terrific tic-tac-toe play developed between Rattie, Leipsic and Nice Petan. Petan finished the play scoring his 6th of the playoffs for the 3-0 lead. The Hawks would get one more on the power play, as Rattie hit the inside of the post and Leipsc found the rebound, poking it home for his 7th of the playoffs, closing out the scoring at 4-0.

After the last goal of the game, things again got out of control, as Joel Edmundson was given a Game Misconduct for chippiness away from the play. He then flipped off the Portland faithful on his way out of the gate. Then another Blazer's D-man: Tyler Hansen slap shot the puck, well after the whistle right at Portland D-man Shaun MacPherson. Taylor Peters took exception and he was given a 10 minute Game Misconduct, while Hansen was ejected. It should get very interesting for Game 3 on Tuesday.

Carruth stopped all 27 shots he faced and Cheveldave stopped 30 of 34. Portland was 2/8 on the power play and is now 3/1 in the series. Kamloops was 0/5 and is now 0/10 in the series.

3 Stars:
#3- Ty Rattie- 1 Goal and 2 Assists for Rattie makes 82 career playoff points, moves him up to 4th on the all time list, ahead of Brad Doran (Calgary 1995-2000).

#2- Brendan Leipsic- 1 Goal and 2 Assists for Leipsic, as he was possibly the best Winterhawk forward in Game 2.

#1- Mac Carruth- 27 Saves for Carruth and since the goal he gave up in game one was so early he has gone nearly 118 minutes in this series without giving up a goal.
Mac Carruth

Random Notes:
-Carruth set the WHL record career playoff appearances with 66. Again taking a record from former Red Deer Rebel Cam Ward.
-Rattie is also only 4 goals back of the WHL record, with his 43rd in Game 2.
-Brendan Ranford and J.C. Lipon were explosive in the first two rounds for the Blazers. But, in the first 2 games of this series, they are both pointless.
-Kamloops shook up their lines putting Cole Ully, Matt Needham and Chase Souto together again, breaking up the Ully-Ranford-Lpon pairing that had worked so well earlier in the playoffs.
-Joe Mahon and Dominic Turgeon were put into the lineup and Keegan Iverson and Paul Bittner were scratched.Mahon had not played since Game 5of the Everett series and Turgeon had not played since Game 1 of the playoffs.
-Ranford was shaken up after colliding with teammate Kale Kessy and did not seem to have the same jump after.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hawks Soar Past the Blazers for 4-1 Game One Win

7,079 present at the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum on Friday night were treated to a very eventful Game One Friday night. The first period was particularly fast paced and it only got more entertaining from there. Ending with the typical bad blood between the two squads.

The scoring was started from an unusual source for the Blazers: fourth line Center Joe Kornelsen. This was his first of the playoffs. He scored when Portland D-man Tyler Wotherspoon attempted to intercept a pass and instead poked it right onto the waiting stick of Kornelsen who roofed it glove side past Mac Carruth only 2:10 into the game. The First period was insanely quick paced, with both teams creating solid chances back and forth. Despite this, no other goals were scored until Chase De Leo fired a spinning shot at the net that Taylor Leier was able to deflect past the unprepared Cole Cheveldave with 4:57 left in the period. This was Leier's 6th of the playoffs. The eventual game winner was scored with 2:44 left in the period, when Ty Rattie was sprung for a breakaway. An out of position Joel Edmundson responded by hacking at Rattie and preventing him from getting a shot off. Rattie was thus rewarded a penalty shot that he roofed on Cheveldave ending the period, with a 2-1 lead for the Hawks.
Mac Carruth

No goals were scored in the second period, as both teams buckled down their defense and did not activate their defenseman into the play as much. However, both teams did strike one post apiece in the period.

Brendan Leipsic
Portland added their first insurance goal on the power play when Brendan Leipsic found an activated Troy Rutkowski in front of the net. Cheveldave made the initial save, but Rutkowski found his own rebound to make it 3-1 Hawks. Rutkowski now haw 3 goals in the playoffs. Kamloops responding, getting several chances from the Cole Ully, Brendan Ranford and J.C. Lipon line, but Carruth was able to turn all of them away. The Hawks then put the game away with 6minutes left in the game off a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal from Rattie, Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic, that finished with Leipsic going backhand roof on Cheveldave.

After the Leipsic goal, Kamloops seemed more interested in sending a message for the rest of the series then trying to make a late comeback. Kale Kessy was warranted a game misconduct after losing his temper and appearing to shove an official. He could be hearing from the league office for that one. Then, with 1:58 left in the game and both players heading to their benches, Chase Souto speared Rattie with the butt end of his stick. Rattie responded checking Souto from behind and sending him sprawling into the boards. Rattie could be chewing his nails waiting to hear what the league thinks of this incident. He was given 5 minutes for checking from behind and a game misconduct.

Carruth made 33 saves on 34 shots one goal and Cheveldave stopped 37 of 41.

3 Stars:
#3- Brendan Leipsic- He had 10 points in 4 games vs.the Blazers in the regular season and added 2 more in this game to keep the trend going.

#2- Mac Carruth- He was solid when he needed to be, stopping the last 33 shots he faced in the game, as Kornelsen's goal was on the first shot in the series.

#1- Ty Rattie- 1 goal and 2 assists for Rattie, he was the best player on the ice and should feel complimented that Kamloops has placed a huge target on his back moving forward.
Ty Rattie

Random Notes:
-Rattie is now in sole possession of 2nd place all time in WHL playoff goals with 42. He is only 5 back of the all time record holder (Mark Pederson 47).
-Kornelsen had a solid game for the Blazers and was even moved up into Tim Bozon's spot on the second line for the Blazers. This might be attributed to a lack of fitness, as Bozon missed all of the last round vs. Kelowna.
-Despite getting Bozon back, the Blazers continued to go with Ully-Ranford-Lipon. This was seemingly a good choice, as they were by far the Blazers best line in this game.
-A lot of scoutswere reported as being in the audience for Game 1. In Portland, no doubt to look at Ully and Matt Needham for the Blazers and Seth Jones, Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Preston Kopeck for the Hawks,all being draft eligible age in June.
-Portland was 1/3 on the power play and Kamloops was 0/5.
-The Hawks again decided to switch out Paul Bittner and Keegan Iverson with older players on the 3rd line, during the later stages of the game. This time Joey Baker and Preston Kopeck were moved up.
-Just like in the Spokane series, Portland had to have a decisive faceoff winning advantage. Colin Smith for the Blazers even intentionally lost some in the first and second periods.
-Edmonton knotted up the series with Calgary in Game 2 with 5 goals in the 3rd for a 6-0 win.




Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday News and Links

The Hawks and Blazers get going tonight at the Memorial Coliseum and there has been increasing interest across Canada about this rematch from last year's epic series.

Links:
-Paul Danzer's piece in the Columbian mentions that Taylor Peters does not play himself as a 3rd line grinder on NHL 13, but instead: "likes to put up the points."
-Article from Oregon Live talks about the impact that Kale Kessy has had on the Blazers this post-season.
-Sunaya Sapurji's piece from yahoo about Travis Green adjusting into his role as Head Coach.

-One note on this: it has been witnessed time and time again that someone who was an Assistant Coach on a team, struggles when given the reins of the same team. Because, generally the Assitant Coach is more a player's coach and attmepts to befriend the players. Thus, when he tries to take over the job, the players have a hard tiem respecting the sudden change. What Green has done this season, is all that more impressive because of this.

-Ty Rattie, is a jokester away from the rink and a driven, focused player with fire in his eyes with the puck on the stick, according to Paul Buker.
-Buzzing the Net's: Western Conference Final preview has the Hawk's winning a close one.
-Calgary surprised Edmonton last night in Game 1 with a 3-2 OT victory.
-To get you in the mood here's a couple videos that will give you a taste of the bitter rivalry between the squads.

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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday News and Links

So it is nearly time to end this awful layoff from playoff hockey. No WHL games have been played since Calgary finished off Red Deer last Thursday April 11th. Portland and Kamloops both last played on April 10th. This means that when Friday's Game 1 rolls around, they will both had 8 days off.
Colin Smith

This 8 day rest period could not have been better timing for the Blazers. They were missing their top two regular season scorers: Colin Smith and Tim Bozon for most of the Division Semi-Final sweep over Kelowna. Word is, that Colin Smith is skating in practice and is free of concussion symptoms. Bozon has also practiced, but did not participate in full drills as he is still nursing his hand injury. Smith should be good to go in Game 1 and Bozon will look to make it back for Games 3 and 4 in Kamloops next week.

Tim Bozon
The two of them coming back is huge for Kamloops, who got past Kelowna last round in a 4 game sweep, but two of those games went to overtime. Even though the Cole Ully-Brendan Ranford-J.C. Lipon top unit has combined for 48 points this playoff, they could use the scoring support against the Hawks and their scoring depth.

Portland added defensive depth to their roster with second round 2012 Bantam pick Defenseman Keoni Texeira. Texeira, in his 15 year old season, probably won't see any action unless pressed into it by injuries on the defensive side.

Former Winterhawk Andrew Ference was in the news yesterday after word got out that his wife and daughters were near the site of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Luckily they were far enough away from the blasts to escape harm. Ference has become one of the most visible athletes in Boston over his 5+ seasons in Bean-town.
Andrew Ference Hawk from 1995-99

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.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hawks Sweep Chiefs with 5-0 Game Four Victory

The Portland Winterhawks completed the four game sweep of Spokane and advanced to their third straight Western Conference Final and 14th in team history with a 5-0 victory Wednesday night. Mac Carruth got his second shutout of the series in the win.
Mac Carruth

Portland jumped out the lead for the fourth straight time when 10:53 into the game, Chase De Leo peeled the puck off of the end boards and walked in on Spokane goalie Eric Williams, picking the corner on him for his 4th of the playoffs.Then a couple minutes later Portland defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon was called for roughing and th the Chiefs went on a rare power play. It would be Portland that would get the important goal, once again, however, when Reid Gow failed to hold a Seth Jones clearing in at the line and then fell down trying to recover. Taylor Peters picked up the puck and skated in going forehand-backhand and beating Eric Williams for his first of the playoffs.

In the second period Portland started with a 5 on 3 power play after Tyler King was called for roughing and the Chiefs were caught with too many men on the ice. Portland would take most of whatever life the 4,012 in attendance still had when Ty Rattie buried a terrific backhand feed from Brendan Leipsic past a sprawling Williams. This period was more of a back and forth affair as the teams traded good scoring chances. Portand(15) and Spokane(10) combined for 25 shots in the period.


Taylor Peters

The third was more of tight checking affair as Portland played tough defense and kept the Chiefs from ever amounting a serious comeback. It would be Portland, not the increasingly desperate Chiefs, who got 2 goals in the period, both on juicy rebounds. The first came when Taylor Peters led a 2 on 1 rush and snapped a shot on Williams. The rebound came right to a waiting Joey Baker who buried his second of the playoffs. The last goal of the evening when Oliver Bjorkstrand fired a shot that Williams scrambled to make a fine save on. The rebound came right to Taylor Leier, who put it into the empty net for his 5th of the playoffs.

Eric Williams stopped 30 of the 35 shots he faced. Carruth stopped all 30 shots he faced. He extended both his team record for playoff shutouts(5) and his WHL record for playoff wins(41). Spokane was 0/1 on the power play and the Hawks were 1/4. Spokane finished the series 1/9 in the series and Portland finished 3/19.

3 Stars:
#3- Seth Jones- 1 assist in this one and was a +2. Tyler Wotherspoon and him were an impenetrable force for most the series, not allowing any direct shots at Carruth and clearing out any potential rebounds. They were fantastic despite a relentless fore-check from the Chiefs.

#2- Taylor Peters- 1 goal and 1 assist and played much better this series then vs. Everett. He played a much better defensive game and was un-stoppable at the faceoff dot. Spokane had only 2 true centers(Dylan Walchuk and Mike Aviani) and Portland exposed this by winning a majority of the draws.

#1- Mac Caruth- 30 saves for the shutout. He allowed only 3 goals in the entire series vs. the Chiefs. He is playing at the top of his game going into the Western Final and should be raring to go next Friday.

Random Notes:
-In the 10th playoff series vs. the Chiefs, the Hawks win makes them 7-3 overall.
-The Hawks outscored them 18-3 overall.
-Rattie's 41st playoff goal of his career makes him tied for 2nd in WHL history with Reg Leach. Leach played for Flin Flon from 1967-70. He trails Mark Pederson(47) by 6 for the record.
-Spokane scratched regular season leading scorer Todd Fiddler and 18 year old Jackson Playfair and put in two 16 year olds instead(Jacob Cardiff and Markson Bechtold).
-Cardiff and Bechtold had played a combined 11 games the entire season.
-Kamloops finished off Kelowna in a 4 game sweep with a 4-3 overtime win. Kale Kessy scored the winner.
-Kale Kessy, Brendan Ranford and J.C. Lipon are playing otherworldly right now and were in on all 4 goals in Game 4.
-Edmonton came back from a 2-1 deficit mid-way through the 3rd to finish off the Medicine Hat Tigers in four: 4-2.
-3 of the 4 Semi-finals ended in sweeps. The only series still alive is Red Deer vs. Calgary. Calgary leads 3-1.
-Portland's second straight Western Final vs. Kamloops starts Friday April 19th at the Coliseum.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hawks Take 3-0 Series Lead with 3-1 Win in Spokane

Portland took a commanding 3-0 series lead on Tuesday night and could finish out the series with a victory tonight in Spokane. The Hawks once again combined excellent defense with great goaltending, en route to a 3-1 victory over a desperate Chiefs squad.

The first period, like game 2 was a back and forth affair with both goalies coming up big time and time again. Portland had 13 shots and Spokane had 12. It was the Hawk's last shot of the period that would get by Spokane goalie Eric Williams, however. With under a minute to play in the period Spokane defenseman Reid Gow, threw a blind pass behind himself at the Hawk's blue line. It went right to a waiting Nic Petan who fed Ty Rattie for breakaway. As has been the case most times Rattie gets a breakaway, he buried it, this time going upstairs glove side, for his 10th of the playoffs.
Nice Petan

Portland would add to their lead 8:01 into the second, when after Troy Rutkowski hit him with an excellent pass right in front of Williams, Nic Petan simply stepped around the goalie and backhanded it into the empty net for his 5th of the playoffs. That one, would be the only one Spokane got back, on the power play when Blake Gal was able to tip a Reid Gow point shot past Mac Carruth to make it 2-1 going inot the 3rd.

The last period would be where Portland showed their strength defensively. Spokane, desperate to keep from going down 3 games to 0, accounted for only 9 shots and probably only one or two good scoring chances. This despite a power play in the period and the pulling of Williams for an extra attacker with 1:41 left in the game. Portland would add an empty netter off the stick of Taylor Leier after the guy with the same first name(Taylor Peters) blocked a shot and cleared it to center ice, where Leier was able to get a shot away.
Taylor Leier

Williams made 34 saves on 36 shots and Carruth made 25 on 26. The Portland power play sputtered in this one going 0 for 3. Spokane went 1/4 on the man advantage.

3 Stars:
#3- Eric Williams- Great aoaltending battle in this one, Williams kept his team in the game with several heart stopping saves and quite a few routine ones. His best was probably on Rattie in the first, when Rattie seemingly had an empty net to shoot at.

#2- Mac Carruth- Just a solid series all around for Carruth so far. He has not made many mistakes and has done a fantastic job of, at times, directing his defenders to spots where they can benefit the most.

#1- Nic Petan- 1 goal and 1 assist brings him to 14 points in 9 playoff games. He did not score any points in 29 playoff games combined as a 15 and 16 year old, so the improvement point wise is astounding.

Random Notes:
-Leier had a goal dis-allowed half-way through the 3rd, when it was ruled he deflected it in with a high stick. That makes 4 goals this playoff for Portland that have been dis-allowed after review by the officials
-Carruth has a 1.00 GAA after 3 games in the series, against Spokane.
-Portland, once more, struck a couple posts in this one.
-The Hawk's 40+ power play percentage coming into the series, has suffered in the series against Spokane going 2/15 on the man advantage.
-Portland had held Spokane without a power play goal for the first 6 opportunities they've had this series, before Gal's goal at 16:24 of the 2nd in this one.
-For the 3rd game in a row, Spokane mixed up their lines. They went with Dylan Walchuk centering Todd Fiddler and Mitch Holmberg on the top unit and Blake Gal centering Alessio Bertaggia and Jackson Playfair on the 2nd line.
-At least in the first, these line pairings seemed to work as Spokane kept up with Portland pretty well.
-Kamloops took a 3-0 series lead over Kelowna after J.C. Lipon scored the overtime winner in Game 3 for the 5-4 win.
-Edmonton rolled Medicine Hat 9-2 for a 3-0 lead behind 2 goals and an assist from Michael St. Croix.
-1 day after Red Deer won in overtime off a Matt Dumba overtime goal, Calgary answered back with an OT winner from Cody Sylvester for a 3-1 series lead.
-Portland goes for the sweep tonight at 7:05 pm in Game 4 in Spokane.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Do the Hawks Have the Chiefs Number?/ Monday News and Links

So Portland made relatively easy work of the Spokane Chiefs in Games 1 and 2: 7-2 and 3-0. Combine that with the last 4 games of the regular season match-up and the Hawks are 6-0 in their last 6 games and have outscored the Chiefs 31-6 over those games.

They have done this by committing to team defense and being successful shooting on Spokane goalie Eric Williams. The team defense was something that was spotty in the first round series with Everett. This was most likely because they dominated the flow of play so much that it was tough for them, at times, to make defensive adjustments on the rush. Portland has not dominated play nearly as much against Spokane. They were even out shot in Game 1. Spokane takes a lot of quick long shots trying to create rebounds in front of Portland goalie Mac Carruth. Carruth has not allowed rebounds right in front of net very much in this series and the Portland defense has done an excellent job of clearing out these rebounds and turning play in the other direction. This also helps Carruth get into the game more as well.
Mac Carruth

As far as the offensive side, that should come even more as Portland has gotten the better of goalies the more looks they have gotten at them. They struggled more with Eastern Conference squads in the regular season, because they were not used to shooting at them.

If Portland continues to play well in front of Carruth, blocking shots and clearing out rebounds, the Hawks should continue to have success in Games 3 and 4 in Spokane.

News and Links:
-Apparently, there was quite a bit of controversy over Keowna's Tyson Bailie's hit on Kamloop's Colin Smith in Game 1. Bailie was suspended for Game 2 and Smith sat out with an injury.
-Spokane's KREM.com makes the argument that too much rest has doomed the Chiefs coming into the series with Portland.
-Laurent Brossoit shut out the Medicine Hat Tigers in Game 2: 2-0. He has stopped 119 of the last 120 shots he has faced vs. the Tigers.
-In former Hawk News: Dan DaSilva scored a goal in a 2-0 victory for his Houston Aeros over Hamilton in the AHL. DaSilva has 5 goals and 5 assists in 16 games with Houston.
Dan DaSilva Hawk from 2002-05

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Carruth Gets the Shutout on Another Record Setting Night:: 3-0 in Game 2.

Mac Carruth set two different playoff records for the Winterhawks on Saturday night. By getting the 3-0 victory over Spokane, he is now the WHL leader in playoff wins with 39. Former Red Deer Rebel and current Carolina Hurricane Cam Ward had held the record previously. Also, with the shutout, his 4th career playoff shutout, he is now the franchise leader in that category as well. He had been tied with Lanny Ramage(1999-2003) for that honor. How many more franchise records will Mac Carruth make his own?
Mac Carruth

10.326 were in the Rose Garden to watch the Hawks take on the Spokane Chiefs in game 2 of their best of 7 series. Portland was up 1 game to 0 coming into tonight.

13:17 into the game, after a long stretch pass missed a speeding Oliver Bjorkstrand and went on net, Bjorkstrand corralled the puck behind the net and found Taylor Leier in front. Instead of shooting, Leier somehow found Chase De Leo all alone on the backdoor to open the scoring. This was a back and forth period that combined for 31 shots (20 for Portland and 11 for Spokane). Both goaltenders played exceptionally well in the opening frame.

Portland would add to their lead in the second off another broken play around the Chief's net. Ty Rattie attempted the backhanded wraparound but was turned aside by Spokane goalie: Eric William's stick. Nic Petan however pulled out the rebound and put it home for his 4th of the playoffs. This period was much tighter checking wise and the Hawks made more of a commitment to blocking shots and limiting the looks Spokane got at Carruth.

Seth Jones
The 3rd period was business as usual for the Hawks, who would first score to take the 3-0 lead, the play shutdown defense to take the 2-0 series lead. They would score with 10:58 left in the game when Seth Jones made an incredible interception on a 3 on 2 Spokane rush and went all the way down the ice with the puck. He then found Rattie in front of the net and Rattie found Brendan Leipsic all alone for the slam dunk goal. It was Leipsic's 5th of the playoffs and was the last goal scored on the night.

Mac Carruth made 27 saves or his shutout and Eric Williams stopped 40 of 43. Portland was surprisingly 0/4 on the power play and Spokane was 0/1.

3 Stars:
#3- Seth Jones-Had a great assist and was part of an amazing defensive effort by the Hawks. They all bought into the system and did an excellent job of keeping a majority of shots from a distance rather then in close.

#2- Brendan Leipsic- Was possibly the Hawks best forward all night. He was strong on the puck and helped create a very strong cycle all night for the Hawks.

#1- Mac Carruth- A night after Rattie set his record in style with a hat trick, Carruth did the same with a shutout. He faced 27 shots but helped his defense out by making sure any rebounds were pushed out strongly to the side and not right in front of his net.

Random Notes:
-7 posts were hit between the 2 squads as the Goalie's best friend made his appearance on both sides.
-Rattie has 39 career playoff goals and is 8 behind the WHL record of 47.
-In a much different game, the Hawks committed only one penalty all game.
-Don Nachbaur made an adjustment on his top line, putting in 4th liner: 6'1" 205 lb forward Jackson Playfair, in place of Adam Helewka. One has to think Nachbaur did this to give his top unit a little more size.
-Playfair is the Son of one former Hawk: Jim Playfair and nephew of another one: Larry Playfair.
-Playfair was given a 10 minute misconduct with 12 seconds left in the game.
-Game 3 goes Tuesday night at 7:05pm in Spokane.
-In the only other action Saturday night: Kamloops, led by Brendan Ranford's 2 goals, beat Kelowna 4-2 in game one.
Jim Playfair Hawk from 1981-83

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rattie Sets Franchise Record in 7-2 Game One Victory

Ty Rattie set the Winterhawks franchise record for playoff points at 72, in style with a 3rd period hat trick. His 3 goals put the game out of reach for the visiting Spokane Chiefs. Portland takes the 1-0 lead into the Rose Garden for tonight's game 2.

Mike Aviani
Portland's second line came out flying, showing a ton of confidence against the team they combined for 16 points in a game on. After a flurry of chances, Tyler Wotherspoon's point shot hit Chase De Leo's skate and ended up on the stick of Taylor Leier. Leier fired spinning shot on net and beat Spokane goalie Eric Williams to open the scoring 5:46 into the game. Spokane would answer less then 4 minutes later after good sustained pressure from their 3rd line. Mike Aviani finally beat Mac Carruth after receiving a feed from Defense-man Brenden Kichton. We would go into the locker-room tied at 1.

Derrick Pouliot
The second period would be far more eventful then the first, starting with a shot from Taylor Leier that Williams turned away. Oliver Bjorkstrand was all over the rebound however and backhanded it past the sprawling Chief's goalie. Spokane would answer yet again when on the power play, Mac Carruth could not play in the puck outside the trapezoid behind his net. Derrick Pouliot mis-judged the play and Spokane's Todd Fiddler beat him to the puck. Fiddler then went with a wrap around that he fired upstairs tying the game at 2. Portland would take over starting while 4 on 4 play was commencing. Pouliot fired  shot off William's pad right to a waiting Bjorkstrand for the 3-2 lead. Then the highlight of the night and possibly the year happened as Pouliot took the puck on an end to end rush, beating 4 different Chiefs on his way to sniping it upstairs on Williams for a 4-1 lead to end the second.

It would only get worse for Williams and Spokane in the 3rd, after Spokane's high tempo fore check caused them to be out of position on a 2 on 1 rush that Rattie finished only 47 seconds into the 3rd period. Rattie would score again 5 minutes later when Brendan Leipsic realizing Williams did not have his stick, brought it into the crease and fired a back door pass that Rattie put home. Rattie would finish the natural hat trick and franchise record setting goal, with 3:37 left in the game, receiving a sweet pass from Pouliot that he hammered home to end the scoring in the game at 7-2.


Carruth was much better in this game, then he was last series, showing he is probably better when facing more shots. He made 38 saves on 40 shots. Portland was outshot for the first time this playoff as they put 39shots on goal, of which, Williams turned away 32. Portland had by far the larger amount of quality scoring chances, however.

Portland's vaunted powerplay was not as good in this one, scoring on 2 of their 8 chances and giving upa short handed goal. Spokane was 0/3 on their pp opportunities.

3 Stars:
#3- Oliver Bjorkstrand- 2 very  for the Hawks in the early going and 1 assist as well.  His line helped set the tempo for the Hawks in the game.
#2- Derrick Pouliot- 1 very impressive goal and 3 assists. Besides the gaffe on the Fiddler goal,was easily the Hawk's best D-man in this one showing off his superb talent.
#1- Ty Rattie- It was Rattie's night on Friday and we were all their to witness it. He got the natural hat trick and the franchise record and had many more scoring chances come off his stick as well.
Ty Rattie

Random Notes:
-Several Cheifs lost their composure late in the game. Both Reid Gow and Jackson Playfair were given 10 minute misconduct penalties as the referees tried to control the game.
- Mac Carruth tied the WHL playoff record for victories, previously held alone by former Red Deer Rebel Cam Ward, at 38.
-Bjorkstrand has 7 pts in his last 2 games.
-Rattie has 28 goals in his last 28 playoff games.
-Rattie and Pouliot are now sitting in second place in playoff scoring with 13, one behind Kamloop'a: J.C. Lipon.
-Edgars Kulda had 1 goal and 2 assists for Edmonton in their 4-1 game one victory over Medicine Hat.
-Calgary took a 2-0 series lead over Red Deer with a 2-1 victory.

Friday, April 5, 2013

1)Portland vs. 4)Spokane Second Round Playoff Preview

Portland (57-12-1-1 in the regular season) vs. Spokane (44-26-2) in the second round of the playoffs. The series starts tonight at 7pm in Portland.
Spokane Celebrating Winning Game 1 vs. Tri City

Season Series At a Glance:
-Portland won 7 of the 9 games played and outscored the Chiefs 45-20 overall. Of the 9 games; 7 took place in 2013 proper, so both teams should know each other quite well. The two times Spokane beat Portland this year, were back to back games in February (5-2 and 5-4 respectively). Todd Fiddler, their leading goal scorer got a hat trick in the 5-2 game and Spokane's goalie Eric Williams stood on his head in the other. Despite these two losses, Portland mostly dominated play throughout the season series. Most memorable for the Hawks has to be the 8-3 victory on February 18th. In that game the Hawk's second unit of Chase De Leo-Oliver Bjorkstrand-Taylor Leier, combined for 16 points, their biggest night of the year. This was the taking off point for this line, as they have been consistent point producers ever since.

Spokane at a Glance:
Brenden Kichton
-Unlike Portland's last opponent, Spokane has not struggled in scoring goals. They have 6 very good forwards and other guys that will produce from time to time as well. Todd Fiddler had 42 regular season goals and Mitch Holmberg was right behind him with 41. Their star defenseman: Brenden Kichton once again led them and all WHL d-men in regular season points with 85 points. Many were surprised that he did not play at the AHL level as a 20 year old, as his rights are owned by the New York Islanders. The big question for Spokane has got to be on the defensive side. Besides Kichton and maybe Reid Gow, they have not gotten consistent defensive production. They use four 17 year olds back at the blue line and at one point this year actually moved 20 year old forward Blake Gal back to defense. if Spokane can get solid defensive play and Eric Williams stands on his head, they have the offense to make this a very good series. And of course, like any Don Nachbaur team, they will be well coached and make good adjustments.

Eric Williams
Spokane was 5th in the WHL in goals for and 11th in goals against. In the series with Tri City, they won 4 of 5 games and seem to be clicking on all cylinders right now. They chased a hot goaltender in Troy Trombley, then gave his backup: Luke Lee-Knight a hard time as well. The one game they did lose was in overtime. On the other side of the ice, Eric Williams was calm and collected, only allowing 14 goals in the 5 games with the Americans. Williams needs to be much better then he was vs. the Hawks in the regular season: 2-5 with a 4.34 GAA.

Random Notes:
-Mac Carruth was stellar vs. the Chiefs in the regular season with 5-2 record and a 2.11 GAA. He was porous at times vs. an offensively challenged Silvertips squad in the first round and needs to be much better vs. the Chiefs or this could be anyone's series.
-Alessio Bertaggia, the Swiss player that the Hawks got in trouble or having in their training camp last year, leads the Chiefs with 8 playoff points. Hopefully he won't make the Hawks pay for not clinging to him.
-Adam Helewka, a 17 year old rookie is one to watch,as he has been solid for the Chiefs, helping them round out a solid third line. He had 3 points in 5 games vs. Tri City.
-Brendan Leipsic was named Denny's player of the week and is currently 3rd in playoff scoring with 11 points.
-Calgary took game one from Red Deer 4-2 last night in Game 1 of that series.
-Portland needs the De Leo unit to be solid and at least match the production from the Chief's second unit, as Portland's top line should pace the Hawks, yet again.
-Portland was ridiculous on the power play in round one and looks to continue this trend. They were scoring on above 40% of their chances.

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.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hawks Playing Waiting Game/ Wednesday News and Links

Portland continues to have to wait to see who their second round opponent will be. This is because, Seattle, who had a 3 game to 0 lead in the series, has now dropped 3 straight, leading to tonight's game 7 in Kelowna. Seattle also had a a 3-1 lead in the first period at home last night, before losing after Myles Bell scored over 10 minutes into overtime.

Kelowna is the #2 seed and Seattle is the #7. Because the WHL, reseeds after each round depending on seed, the Hawks could play one of two teams. If Seattle wins, the Hawks will ge them. If Kelowna completes the comeback, the Hawks will get the #4 seed (lowest seed left) Spokane Chiefs instead. Spokane beat Tri City in 5 games and so has not played since last Saturday.

Portland has got to feel comfortable against either team as they have a 10-2 record vs. the Thunderbirds and a 7-2 record against the Chiefs. They outscored Seattle 64-32 in the season series and Spokane 45-20.

Regardless, Portland will start the second round Friday night at the Coliseum and Saturday night at the Rose Garden. Both games are at 7pm and tickets are now on sale.

If Kelowna completes the big comeback, then they will be one of only two WHL teams that have come back from a 3-0 series deficit to advance. The other team to do so: the 1996 Spokane Chiefs, led by future NHLers Trent Whitfield and Brent Podollan. They did it against your beloved Todd Robinson and Richard Zednik led Portland Winterhawks. Spokane was the #1 seed in the West and Portland was the #6, in that first round series.

If Seattle wins the series it will be the biggest upset in WHL history based on regular season points. Seattle had 50 less regular season points then Kelowna. The biggest upset so far was in 2007 when the Prince George Cougars, with Devon Setoguchi had 37 less points and beat the Everett Silvertips with Peter Mueller.

News and Links:
-Jesse Lees was knocked out of game 6 for the Rockets after a high hit to the head from Justin Hickman. Lees did not return and Hickman received a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. Connor Honey is already sitting out 3 games due to a hit he game Kelowna D-man McKenzie Johnston in Game 4. Johnston is out for the year. Regan Bartel has a piece about the hit and Game 6 here.
-Andrew Eide's article about Brandon Glover's 55 save performance in Game 6.
-Kelowna is down to 4 defenseman, if Lees can't go. One of their D-men is a 16 year old.
-In former Winterhawk news: Jason Labarbera made 39 saves on Tuesday night for his 3rd win of the season, 3-1 over the L.A. Kings.
Jason Labarbera Hawk from 1996-2000

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hawks End Eilvertip's Season in Game 6: 5-1

The Portland Winterhawks have not found a more comfortable place to play this post-season then Comcast Arena, Everett. After losing Game 5 at home, they journeyed up to Everett and easily dispatched the home team, in order to advance to the second round for the fourth year in a row. Everett has now lost in the first round six years in a row. Portland now awaits the outcome of the Seattle Kelowna series to see who they will face in round two. Seattle has a 3-2 series with Game 6 going tonight in Kent. If Seattle wins, Portland will play them starting Friday at home. If Kelowna comes back forces Game 7 on Wednesday and wins, then Portland will play Spokane at home on Friday.

Game 6 did not start well for the Winterhawks on Monday night, as on the power play, Ty Rattie made an errant pass then ended up on Everett penalty killer Reid Ptryk's stick. Petryk was off to the races and beat Mac Carruth, for the first short-handed goal of the series. Just over 5 minutes later, Taylor Peters was able to keep the puck in the Everett zone on a poor clearing pass. He got the puck to Seth Jones who made a move on the far boards before charging the net and roofing a backhand shot past Auston Lotz, to tie the game. Portland would then take a lead they would never relinquish when, with 5 minutes left in the period, Derrick Pouliot's point shot caused a rebound that found Oliver Bjorkstrand. Bjorkstrand quickly put it right back on net, beating Lotz for his second of the playoffs.
Oliver Bjorkstrand

Portland would turn up the pressure in period two, out-shooting Everett 20-4 and putting two more past Lotz. The first one would come, like many Portland goals in this series, on the power play, when Tyler Wotherspoon's pass deflected off a Silvertip right onto the stick of Bjorkstrand in the slot. Oliver quickly wristed it back Lotz for his second of the game. Not to be outdone, with a little over a minute left in the period, Seth Jones pinched in on a long rebound and snapped a shot past Lotz that knocked the water bottle off the top of his net.

Then, in the third period, Portland did not let up, scoring one more and limiting Evrett to an astounding one shot on goal in the frame. The Hawks just simply controlled the puck for the majority of every shift and if the Tips did get the puck, they were too tired to mount an attack. Taylor Leier would get the insurance 3:47 into the period, after a great cycle between him, De Leo and Bjorjstrand finished with him in prime position in the slot. Leier beating Lotz has got to be sweet redemption for Taylor, as Lotz has performed highway robbery on him many times thorughout the series.
Taylor Leier

Mac Carruth, in one of his best games in the series, stopped 12 of 13 shots. He will need to be ready for the next series, in which he is sure to face a bigger workload. Austin Lotz, in another great performance stopped 47 of 52. Portland was 2/5 on the power play and Everett was 0/3.

3 Stars:
#3- Austin Lotz- Not his best performance, but I have to give him a star based on how amazing he has played for most of the series. Everett does not win any games unless he stands on his head in Games 1 and 5.

Seth Jones

#2- Seth Jones- Has been shaky for large parts of this set but came to play in Game 6. He was more aggressive then he has been.Keeping pucks in at the point and not being afraid to go one on three. He finished with 2 goals in the game, his only ones of the series. Fitting for a guy that got booed every time he touched the puck.
 #1- Oliver Bjorkstrand- 2 goals and 2 assist in the game. He has improved so much this year. He no longer goes down as easy as he did at the start of the year and the chemistry that his line has developed is a pretty thing to see.

Random Notes:
-Taylor Leier had a goal taken away in the second after the referee ruled that he knocked the puck down with a high stick.I looked at the video and did not agree with this assesment, thougn it is a tough call to overturn, once you've made it.
-Brendan Leipsic also argued that he had put a puck past Lotz in the second period. Play was never whistled dead and the puck does appear to go, at least, on the goal line.
-Portland is 4-0 this series when they play Keegan Iverson and Paul Bittner, instead of Joe Mahon or Dominic Turgeon. Look for Coach Travis Green to keep Iverson and Bittner with Taylor Peters, as the fourth line played fantastic in Game 6. This line has been makeshift, but mostly has been Preston Kopeck centering Joey Baker and Adam De Champlain.
-Landon Oslanski, put on the ice, for the last 40 seconds of his WHL career, instead took a classless slash on the wrist of Seth Jones. He spent the last part of his career sitting in the box instead, a fitting end for a frustrating series for the 20 year old Defensman.
-Connor Cox, the other Tip's 20 year old, had an amazing series and, in my opinion, was their most consistent D-man.
-Lotz has most certainly increased his stock in this June's NHL draft with his performance this series.