Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Well, look what we have here!

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  • Well, look what we have here. Hockey wouldn't be the same if the Kelowna Rockets and Portland Winterhawks didn't meet in an April clash in the WHL playoffs. Typically, these two franchises meet in the Western Conference final, but this year, the two post season rivals will meet in the second round. It is the 6th time - ever - that the franchises clash with the same goal of ending the other teams season. The Rockets and Winterhawks last met in the 2015 Western Conference final, with the Rockets advancing in six games. These two teams also met in 2014, also in the Western Conference final, with the Hawks ending the Rockets season. The Hawks also eliminated the Rockets in 2012 and 2011. If you want to go way back to the 1994 playoffs, the Winterhawks eliminated the Tacoma Rockets in the 1st round.
  • This series features the top two scoring teams in the Western Conference this season. The Rockets scored 283 goals to lead the Conference while the Winterhawks scored 278 times. The Winterhawks are led by draft eligible Cody Glass, who scored 32 goals and collected 94 points and is projected to be a first round NHL draft pick in June. Glass was the scoring leader for Portland while Kole Lind, also draft eligible this season, had the most points in a Rockets uniform. NHL scouts will compare the two greatly in this best of  seven series.    
  • On the blue line, the Winterhawks are aided by 19 year-old Edmonton Oilers draft pick Caleb Jones, who helped the United States beat Rockets forward Dillon Dube and Team Canada in the gold medal game at the most recently world junior hockey championship. The Dube/Jones match up will be fun to watch.
  • The two teams were separated by only 11 points in the Western Conference standings.
  • The Rockets and Winterhawks met four times during the regular season, with the Rockets winning three of the games. The Rockets beat the Winterhawks by scores of 5-3, 3-2 and 4-1, but in the last meeting, January 28th at Prospera Place, the Winterhawks stunned the Rockets with a 5-4 win. The Winterhawks scored  the game winning goal with 4 seconds left in regulation time. That was the difference between the Rockets raising a BC Division banner this season. Had the game gone into overtime, with the Rockets earning a point, a new banner would be waving high in the rafters at Prospera Place and would have not been claimed by the Prince George Cougars.
  • In the seasonal series, Nick Merkley and Tomas Soustal led the way with 6 points each with 3 goals and 3 assists. The Rockets power play was a huge factor in the team success, scoring 5 power play goals against the Winterhawks in 18 chances.
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  • Can we re-create the playoff battles between these two teams over the years when the Winterhawks had the likes of Ty Rattie, Brendan Leipsic and Mac Carruth causing the emotional tension to escalate with every passing game? No we can't, but with head coach Mike Johnston back behind the Portland bench, not all is lost.  


Big Slapper said...

Speaking of re-creating battles, let's not overlook the fact that all three games in the Rose City are scheduled for Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 5K in the old barn will certainly get loud but nothing like the previous atmosphere in the RoseModaGardenCenter.

Regan Bartel said...

Would have loved both games at Moda, but the old girl has some charm to it.

Fax said...

Question Regan ... do the local Starbucks in the Rose City just plan on an April visit (or two or three) from you?

I'm sure your felllow announcers (Keen, O'Connor, Martens) would love to visit Portland in April - as often as you do

Crazy that this will be the fifth time these two teams meet in the playoffs since 2011

Portland's comeback win in Kelowna ...seems to have given the Rockets a much needed "kick in the rear" - I have the Rockets as 22-5-1 since they gave away that game to the Hawks in January

Rockets are massive favorites to win the series (superior veteran talent up front) - but I'm thinking that the games should be entertaining and up-tempo

Looking forward to your broadcasts this weekeng

Regan Bartel said...

I haven't seen a snoozer of a series between these two teams --- ever. This one will be another classic. Any 40+ win team that knocked off the BC champs has my respect.

Ryan Manns said...

I live in Portland so I'll be at Games 3 and 4 for sure! Go Rockets Go!

Ray Taber said...

As a Winterhawks fan I am looking forward to another great series against the Rockets.
I'll be watching the away games and look forward to your commentary.
Nobody has commented on how the youngest team in the league just upset the oldest, purpose built team and sent them packing.
Rockets might have their hands full with out rebuild rookies.

By the way, Yours is one of the few broadcasts I don't cringe to listen to when the Hawks are playing away. You call a great game.

Thanks for all you do to bring the games to those who can't get out to them.

Go Hawks!

LadyDragonborn said...

I would have been sorely disappointed if we (Portland) had NOT met Kelowna in the playoffs! Our young team may fall this year (or they surprise everyone yet again), but playing against the Rockets in the post season has almost become a rite of passive for the Winterhawks! Looking forward to the series! Go Hawks!