The Portland Winterhawks pulled into Kelowna a little after noon today after leaving after the 6-3 win in Game 2 last night at the Rose Garden, traveling to Bellingham, WA, and then moving on into British Columbia this morning. Once arriving, the team went through a spirited skate at the Prospera Place to work out the bus legs and to prepare for the all important Game 3 tomorrow night.
Some Monday thoughts…
– The decision came down this afternoon on Brad Ross, and it is three games for his major penalty in Game 1. Ross will be eligible to return for Game 5 on Friday night at the Rose Garden. No word on whether or not Zach Franko will be available for either Games 3 or 4 this week for the Rockets. The reports were that he had a broken nose, but from what I saw (and I’m no Doctor), it didn’t look broken and he didn’t have it taped as he was running video for the Rockets coaching staff for Game 2.
– It is only fitting that it took a 4 on 4 situation for the Hawks offense to break out in Game 2, scoring twice on that scenario in the second period to get the offense going. The Hawks outscored their opponents in 4 on 4 situations by a margin of 25-9 (including OT games) in the regular season. The two goals by Ty Rattie and Craig Cunningham were the first 4 on 4 goals in the postseason for the Hawks.
– Ryan Johansen got his first career WHL hat trick last night, and it came at a great time. In the playoffs, you need your best players to be your best players and last night the Hawks got what they expect from their top forwards.
– Riley Boychuk chipped in three assists, including a beauty to set up Joe Morrow for the big fifth goal in the third period. Boychuk has a reputation as a bruiser, but his hands do more than punch, that’s for sure.
– Johansen, Rattie, Morrow and Boychuk all had three point nights…and looking at the record books, it was the first time that a Hawks team had four three point scorers in the playoffs since that started to be tracked (and that goes back to 1991-92).
– The last hat trick in the postseason for Portland? Brandon Dubinsky scored all three goals in a 3-2 win in Seattle on April 1, 2006.
– The Hawks 52 shots last night was the most in the postseason this year and the 28 allowed in Game 2 were the fewest allowed in the postseason. The Hawks have yet to be held to under 40 shots in the playoffs this year.
– The 8,000+ crowd in the Rose Garden last night was loud and awesome. As John Kirby said in the final seconds last night, it feels like Winterhawks hockey is back…back to the level of excitement that we had for so many great seasons and the fans in the stands are a huge part of that. Let’s make it louder for Game 5 on Friday!
– The series now shifts to Kelowna and as much as like the Okanagan…I’m not looking forward to calling the games from the cramped booth with camera-blocked site lines. But, the broadcast crew will persevere as Todd Vrooman and I will get cozy in the press box and John Kirby will bring his insight on the roving wireless mic for the next two games. Both will be heard on Freedom 970, with the pre-game show starting at 6:35 each night.