It was 20 year old Craig Cunningham’s entry shot that set up the game-winner last night at the Rose Garden, as late in a power play, Derrick Pouliot fed Cunningham in the left faceoff circle and Cunningham fired a low shot toward the net that Ty Rattie deflected home to give the Portland Winterhawks a 1-0 series lead in the WHL Final against the Kootenay Ice.
Some random thoughts…
– I’m not sure anyone expected the high-scoring race horse style that we saw in the first period last night that resulted in five goals and a 3-2 lead for Portland on Nino Niederreiter’s rebound with just 3.9 seconds remaining in the period. That style of game, you’d think, would favor Portland, but Kootenay didn’t look bad at it either.
– After that, it settled down and it was a much more controlled pace. Kootenay got better as the game progressed and the tying goal by Kevin King looked like it may be the momentum turner, but Portland had two strong shifts after the goal to stem the tide and force the OT.
– Both teams penalty kills were strong with Portland going 5 for 5 and the Ice perfect until Rattie’s goal in OT. The play that resulted in the power play for Portland had James Martin with a slew-foot type action on Ryan Johansen from behind. It was a dangerous play as Johansen didn’t see him coming.
– Sven Bartschi continues to play well…scoring twice in the first period to give him 4-4-8 in the last three games. His draft stock, as well as the other three potential early round selections, continues to rise as they are now performing on the biggest stage in the WHL. Listening to Sven’s post-game interviews shows me just how much his English has improved.
– It may not have been the largest crowd last night, but you guys were certainly loud! It should be a bigger crowd tonight, so let’s amp it up another notch and show those watching on Shaw TV in Canada and on CSN and Root Sports just why the Winterhawks have the best fans in the WHL!
Game time is 7:00 at the Garden…pre-game show at 6:35 on Freedom 970!