Game Day – Game 4

Feels like November in Spokane today as I watch the snow fall outside my window – nothing accumulating, but still…it’s freaking April 29th for criminy sakes.  But…it does feel like hockey weather as the Portland Winterhawks look to extend their lead in the Western Conference Final to 3-1 if they can knock off the Spokane Chiefs again tonight.

Tonight is a pivotal game…if the Hawks win, they can head home knowing they have the opportunity to end the series on home ice tomorrow night in Game 5.  If Spokane wins, they know that they force a Game 6 back in Spokane on Monday night.  Either way, we shouldn’t expect anything different than what we saw in Games 1-3 – close, tight-checking, physical battle between two teams that are very evenly matched.

The difference in Game 3 for Portland was obviously the play of their penalty killers as the Chiefs had an overwhelming 9-2 advantage in power play opportunities but failed to score on any of them and they gave up a short-handed goal to Taylor Peters to tie the score at 1-1 late in the first period.  The Chiefs had the #1 ranked power play team in the regular season, and it wouldn’t be wise for the Hawks to give them nine more chances to show what they can do tonight.  Granted, the power play differential shouldn’t have been that great in Game 3, but that is history now and the focus will be on Game 4.

Peters played outstanding for Portland in Game 3, scoring the first goal and setting up Brendan Leipsic’s OT winner.  It was a simple play, a chip up the boards to spring Leipsic down the left wing and the 16 year old made a nice head deke to get James Reid moving before filing it top shelf.  Leipsic’s celebration and subsequent tackling by his teammates was quite the spectacle and even had some Spokane fans near the celebration saying it was a #1 type play…or at least, that is what I think they were signalling, but it was hard to tell from the press box.

Mac Carruth once again played tremendous in Game 3, stopping 41 of 43 shots to increase his league best save percentage in the post-season.  Plus, his little running feud with Reid during timeouts was high comedy.   Playoffs bring out some heated battles amongst rivals and the battle between the pipes has been a good one so far through three games.

Tonight has the makings to be a great game…we’ll bring it to you live on 95.5 The Game at 6:30 with the pre-game show featuring myself, Todd Vrooman and John Kirby.

Lastly…since I made such note of the small press box in Kelowna…I thought I’d share the rather spacious confines of the Spokane press box…Mr. Vrooman relaxing before Game 3…


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