Winterhawks vs. Ice: WHL finals notes
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Portland Winterhawks vs. Kootenay Ice
WHL championship series
Game 1 - 7:30 p.m. Friday, Rose Garden (CSN)
Game 2 - 7 p.m. Saturday, Rose Garden (CSN)
Game 3- - 6 p.m. Tuesday, at Kootenay (CSN)
Game 4 - 6 p.m. Wednesday, at Kootenay (CSN)
Game 5 - (if necessary) 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13, Rose Garden (Root)
Game 6 - (if necessary) 5 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at Kootenay (Root)
Game 7 - (if necessary) 7 p.m. Monday, May 16, Rose Garden (CSN)
• To the winner goes the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a spot in the Memorial Cup, May 20-29 at Mississauga, Ontario, along with the host team St. Michael's Majors and the champions from Quebec and Ontario junior leagues.
• WHL playoffs: Kootenay beat Moose Jaw, 4-2 and swept Saskatoon and Medicine Hat; Portland swept Everett and beat Kelowna and Spokane, each 4-2.
• Head-to-head: The Ice beat Portland 5-3 Dec. 1, 2010, at Memorial Coliseum. "They worked hard, a staple of their game," Portland assistant coach Travis Green says.
• The Hawks have not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 12 and Jan. 14.
"We live in the moment," Green says. "We try not to dwell on things and not look too far ahead. I like the business-like approach our guys have taken."
• It's an eight-hour bus ride from Portland to Cranbrook. So, the Winterhawks have more road trips ahead after spending hours going to Everett, Kelowna and Spokane in the previous rounds.
"The schedule is tough, as they're trying to get the games in before the Memorial Cup," Hawk forward Craig Cunningham says. "This late in the season, tired is in your head. Things get tough, you think you're tired, you push through it if you want to advance."
• Cunningham, acquired midseason from Vancouver, will be playing in his second WHL finals after playing in his fourth conference finals.
"Both teams are four wins from a chance to play in the Memorial Cup, a special experience for every junior player," he says. "Only two teams left, and you're that close ... it's such a motivation."
• Spokane rewind: The Hawks won 6-3 at Spokane on Monday night to advance to the WHL finals for the first time since 2001.
"Spokane would be one of the most feared teams in the playoffs for any team," Green says, "with the pressure they put on teams, how hard they work, and they don't give up a lot of shots.
"Our guys really adjusted. I liked the way our guys competed and battled, worked hard, and our skill guys worked to get scoring chances and committed to both ends of the rink."
Portland's Mac Carruth gave up the first goal in every game of the Spokane series, but "he played really well for us, except one game (8-3 loss), but that's going to happen," Hawk forward Ryan Johansen says. "We stuck to our game plan, everybody playing the best they can play. We made sure pucks went on net."
Cunningham says Portland's depth and skill took over.
"We rolled three lines and six defensemen, and Carruth played very well," Cunningham says. "Spokane ran out of gas, and we kept coming at them in waves."
• This is the Ice's third WHL finals appearance - the club won in 2000 and 2002, and captured the Memorial Cup in 2002.
• Kootenay's general manager, Jeff Chynoweth, is the son of the WHL trophy's namesake.
• Kris Knoblauch is the Ice's first-year head coach, after serving for three years as an assistant.
• The Ice have allowed seven power-play goals in 14 playoff games, and they have scored seven short-handed goals.
• Nino Niederreiter (8-15-23), Johansen (11-11-22), Sven Bartschi (5-16-21) and Cunningham (7-9-16) lead the Hawks in playoff scoring.
• Carruth has a .927 save percentage in the playoffs.
• Portland is making its ninth WHL finals appearance. The Hawks won titles in 1982 and 1998, both followed by Memorial Cup victories.