Friday, April 1, 2016

Everett Controls Game, Series, Sweeps Portland with a 4-2 Game Four Win

Cole MacDonald had two goals in Everett's series clinching win
Everett had Portland backed into a corner Wednesday night in the Rose City. They had played three games so far against, Portland, where their style had stifled Portland's offense and their offense had scored pivotal goals at all the right times, leading to three straight wins. The Winterhawks were faced with possibly not just losing their first playoff series to a U.S. Division rival since 2005, but the first time they would be on the losing end of a sweep since losing four straight in the first round to Tri-City in 1999. There are a lot of similarities between that season and this one. That team was also loaded with NHL drafted talent and fell short of expectations. The Winterhawks have played in 30 playoff series since last being swept nearly two decades ago by the Americans.

In Game Four, Everett matched Portland's two power play goals from defensemen, with two of their own (from the same guy) and added a goal each from Brandon Ralph and Connor Dewar to end Portland's season before April for the first time since 2005.

Everett got an early five-on-three power play and while they could not score up two men, they did after one of Portland's penalized players had returned to the ice, but not into the play. The goal was scored when Cole MacDonald was set up with a one-timer that he beat a well screened Adin Hill with. This was the fourth straight game in the series that Everett scored first. Portland got a power play goal back moments later, as Blake Heinrich utilized good puck movement and a wonderful screen in front by Keegan Iverson to beat Everett goalie Carter Hart. This game marked Western Conference Goalie of the Year Hart's first entrance into the series as he replaced Mario Petit, who won the first three-games for the 'Tips.

The Winterhawks attempted to get the game into a more up-and-down style and were burned by the results. After a Portland chance failed, Connor Dewar and Patrick Bajkov burst out on an odd-man rush the other way and Dear sniped one past Hill for a 2-1 lead. Portland got that goal back too as Cody Glass, after getting his shot blocked, smartly found Keoni Texeira and the d-man beat Hart on the glove-side for the Hawks second power play goal. Keegan Iverson again provided an eclipse-like screen in front of the net, on Hart. As had been the case for the previous three games in the series, Everett took all of the momentum away from Portland, before the third period started. After Rihards Bukarts's backhand clearance attempt went straight out of play, necessitating a delay-of-game penalty, the Silvertips got another power play goal from Cole MacDonald. With only 32 seconds left in the period, Everett stacked bodies in the view of Hill, not allowing him to see the shot.

Everett again frustrated Portland in the third period, stacking up play along the boards and refusing to allow any good scoring chances on Hart. Cole MacDonald provided the second of two shot-blocks on slap shots from the point and his gutsy effort on Everett's penalty kill in the early-going allowed the Silvertips to slow any momentum Portland had to start the third period. The 'Tips then used their one good rush up ice in the third period, to add some insurance. Brian King and Brandon Ralph surged in on a two-on-one and Adin Hill let out a terrible rebound on King's shot, which Ralph tapped in for his third goal of the series. Portland earned a four-minute power play to end the game, but could not get any looks, nor did there seem to be much of a sense of urgency on Portland's part to get the puck on or near the net. The Silvertips again blocked shots and won board battles, to close out a series sweep of Portland.

Carter Hart was stellar in his first game in a couple weeks, stopping 29 of 31 shots and getting his first playoff win. Adin Hill, meanwhile was able to stop 30 of the 34 shots that he faced.

Game Stats:
Link here.

Game Notes:
-The last games for Portland or all three 20-year-olds and signed 19-year-old. Rihards Bukarts, Alex Schoenborn and Blake Heinrich all aged out of the WHL and Jack Dougherty, Dominic Turgeon and Paul Bittner will not return as NHL signed overage players next season. Adin Hill and Keegan Iverson are also both drafted by NHL teams, but neither is signed as of yet, so we will not know whether they will return next season quite yet.
-The award for most snake-bitten Winterhawk in the series goes to Rodrigo Abols. He had two great looks in tight in this one and was turned away on both of them. The latter was late in the third period and would have been a big goal. Abosls used his big frame and quick shot to get many great looking shots on Everett's goalies. Unfortunately, he was not able to bury any of them.
-Blake Heinrich, who has been one of Portland's most physical players all year, will likely remember two of the plays where he was not physical enough. There was the eventual game-winner from game three and a play in the early going that would have been a goal from Remi Laurencelle, if not for a great stop by Hill in game four.
-Everett's top line of Carson Stadnyk, Remi Laurencelle and Dawson Leedahl simply dominated Portland's top line all series. A big reason that this happened was the fact that Everett's top line has played together for the better part of two seasons, while Portland coach Jamie Kompon had just put Skyler McKenzie between Bukarts and Schoenborn, at the start of game three. Rather than put Cody Glass in that spot, where he played 20, or so, games, he went with a guy, who had not only not been used as a center most of the year, he had also not played a game between those two prior to game three.
-Jack Dougherty led the team with seven shots on net, in his final game with the team. He seemed dis-interested at times this year, but was pretty solid in the playoffs.
-He does not get my award for Portland's best d-man of the series though. Caleb Jones was the Hawks most consistent puck-rusher, as well as, shutdown d-man all series. The future is really bright for the Edmonton Oilers' signed d-man as he will return as a 19-year-old for Portland next season.
-It seemed to me like Everett had more drive and jump after every period break, media break and timeout in the series. What this says to me is that Everett's coaching staff was getting more buy in from their team, then Portland's coaches were able to get from theirs.
-Hats off to Everett, as every one of their players bought into the team's system and it showed as they did everything they needed to win each game and make the Winterhawks get into the ground and pound style, rather than the open-ice style they are sued to and prefer.
-The Silvertips get Seattle in the next round as the T-birds also swept Prince George.

Portland Playoff Stat Leaders:
  1. Bukarts, Glass: 3
  2. Dougherty, Jones and Texeira: 2
Shots on Goal:
  1. Dougherty: 15
  2. Bukarts: 13
  3. Schoenborn: 11
  4. Iverson and Abols: 10
  1. Iverson: 40
  2. Schoenborn: 35
  3. Doguherty: 31
  4. Abols: 29
  5. Heinrich: 27
Blocked Shots:
  1. Heinrich: 11
  2. Texeira: 10
  3. McKenzie: 6
  4. Veloso: 5
  5. Abols and De Jong: 4
Face Off % (Minimum 20 Draws):
  1. Overhardt: 69.57% (16/23)
  2. Glass: 59.09% (26/44)
  3. Turgeon: 56.86% (29/51)-in two games.
  4. Hughes: 47.83% (11/23)
  5. McKenzie: 33.33% (12/36)
Winterhawks in the NHL Thursday:
-Brandon Dubinsky scored his 15th goal of the year in Columbus's 4-3 loss to the N.Y. Islanders.
-Ryan Johansen scored his 14th on the year and then assisted on Nashville's other goal, in their 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
-Matt Dumba provided an assist for Minnesota in their 3-2 loss to Ottawa.
-Jannik Hansen finally hit the 20-goal mark for Vancouver and it was the eventual game-winner, as the Canucks beat San Jose 4-2.

Winterhawks in the AHL Wednesday:
Mac Carruth stopped all 23 shots he faced for Rockford against Chicago. The shutout was his first of the year and second career at the AHL level. The IceHogs edged Ty Rattie and Chicago 1-0.

WOW! What a save on a two-on-zero by Mac Carruth! That's a @HupyandAbraham Play of the Month candidate!
— Rockford IceHogs(@goicehogs) March 31, 2016
Winterhawks in the ECHL Thursday:
-Brett Ponich tallied assist number 14 on the year and Kalamazoo beat Greenville in overtime 4-3.

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