Winterhawks win 2-1, lead WHL finals 3-1
EDMONTON The Portland Winterhawks are one win away from having Ron Robison, Western Hockey League commissioner, hand them the Ed Chynoweth Cup as champions.
And that could come Friday night at the Rose Garden, where fans would surely greet Robison with disdain and animosity, given that the commissioner levied extremely stiff penalties this season against the Hawks for purported excess player benefits.
The Winterhawks are rolling against Edmonton, beating the Oil Kings 2-1 Wednesday on the road to take a 3-1 series lead in the WHL finals.
Since dropping Game 1, the Hawks have outscored the Oil Kings 8-2 in winning three consecutive games.
Game 5 will be 7 p.m. Friday in an already sold-out Rose Garden.
In Game 4, Portland's Brendan Leipsic scored in the first period, set up by Nicolas Petan, and Troy Rutkowski added a second-period power-play goal on a slot slap shot.
Edmonton, just as it has in previous games, turned up the pressure, and drew within 2-1 at 4:45 of the third period on Mitch Moroz's batted-in goal in front of goalie Mac Carruth.
But Carruth rose up to help close out the Oil Kings, who have been playing without NHL prospect Griffin Reinhart on defense.
Carruth made 29 saves, and Edmonton's Laurent Brossoit had 19. Edmonton's slump continued on the power play, as the Oil Kings went 0 for 4.
The Winterhawks would advance to the Memorial Cup tournament in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with a win on Friday, and they would play for major junior hockey's biggest prize for the first time since winning the whole thing in 1998. The champions of the Quebec and Ontario leagues and host Saskatoon also will be in the tournament.
It would be Portland's fifth appearance in the Memorial Cup tournament. The Hawks won the WHL title in 1982 and appeared in the Memorial Cup that year, won the Cup in 1983 as the host team and also played host to the tournament in 1986. In 1998, the Hawks beat Guelph in overtime for the Memorial Cup title in Spokane, Wash.