Playoff hockey is often referred to as the second season and this weekend's game certainly proved their point. Having been off for nearly a week, the Portland Winterhawks game on Friday certainly looked it for the Hawks as they struggled to keep up with the Everett Silvertips on Friday night. Though the shots would indicate otherwise (50-27 Portland), the quality shots weren't there and many were from the point, which allowed Everett goaltender Austin Lotz to see the majority of the pucks coming his way. Mac Carruth had a tough night with the 4 goals he allowed, but that was Friday, Saturday would be a different story.
The sold out Rose Garden on Saturday had a noise level pretty much throughout the game as that of a jet plane and the Hawks acted the part of the plane with speed, finesse and a great deal more toughness. The Tips, who had pretty much been given "carte blanche" with infractions that weren't called in game one, found themselves in almost revolving door penalty box trouble in game two. While the Hawks were only able to go 1 for 7 on the resulting powerplays, the racked up shots, while giving Everett very few. In fact, Everett was only able to muster a total of 4 shots on net in the first two periods.
The Hawks opened the scoring with captain Troy Rutkowski finishing off great work by Nic Petan and Ty Rattie early in the first period. The defencemen for Portland kept up the scoring into the second period as Shaun MacPherson worked with the strong checking line of Keegan Iverson and Taylor Perters to put the Hawks up by 2.
While the Hawks were nursing a 2 goal lead into the third, the fireworks would soon begin. Everett, desperate for some type of spark, got themselves involved with Hawks goaltender Mac Carruth and then with Hawks players along the boards, resulting in a number of roughing minors. Midway through the third period, the heat intensified as the battles became more brutal. It seemed every few minutes on a play stoppage, the rough stuff would happen and 2 near line brawls occurred resulted in very short benches by the end of the game. With 132 penalty minutes called in the game, the majority in the third period, the stage is set for what should be tough battles Wednesday and Friday in Everett for games 3 and 4. The Hawks would go 1 for 7 on the powerplay and the Tips 1 for 4. The Hawks have led in shots in the two games 84-38.
Saturday's 3 stars Troy Rukowski, Ty Rattie and Keegan Iverson.
Ic Chips: The other series have been equally as wild, with Western Conference matchups Kamloops up 2-0 in their series with Victoria, Seattle is shocking Kelowna 2-0 stealing both games in Kelowna and Spokane up 2-0 vs Tri City. In the Eastern Conference, Edmonton leads 1-0 in their series with Kootenay after a 9-0 drubbing in Edmonton on Thursday, Red Deer holds a 2-0 series lead over Prince Albert. Medicine Hat leads 2-0 over Saskatoon. Saskatoon will host the Memorial Cup, but may do so without winning a playoff series and Calgary holds a 2-0 series lead over Swift Current.
The Winterhawks next home game is Saturday March 30 at the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum. The two road games in Everett on Wednesday and Friday will be shown at three viewing party locations. McGillacuddy's on NE Halsey, Sportspage on SW Hall in Beaverton and Kenton Station in North Portland which is an all ages event.
The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club presented a $10,000 check to the Winterhawks Amateur Hockey Association Education Fund on Saturday, the largest ever donation in its 37 year history.
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, a 501(c)(3) Registered Charity that raises money for several local hockey charities in the Portland Metro area