The second round of the WHL Playoffs began this weekend with games scattered throughout the week for games three and four. The games, except one, have the series at 2-0, and one of those is the road team and one at 1-1 in a bit of a surprise.
The Portland Winterhawks went into Kamloops as the underdog against the Kamloops Blazers and picked up a hattrick and a loss in the first game.
Kamloops opened the scoring at 8:30, but saw James Stefan from Portland, tie it up just over a minute later. Kamloops blasted 17 shots Jan Spunar’s way to just 8 for Portland, but the score remained tied at the end of one.
Kamloops scored twice in the middle of the frame to take the lead, including the first of Jakub Demek’s first of two on the night. Two Minutes later, James Stefan scored his second of the night late in the period, but a late goal by Demek, his second of the night, restored the two-goal lead into the third period.
Just over a minute, Kamloops scored again, and then three minutes later, the Kamloops powerplay extended what seemed an insurmountable lead. Marcus Nguyen scored with less than three minutes left in the game, and James Stefan banged home a hattrick goal with two seconds left on the clock, but Kamloops skated away with a 6-4 win. Portland was 2-5 on the powerplay, with Kamloops 1 for 2 and outshot Portland 38-32.
The second night was a disaster for the Hawks, and Kamloops outshot Portland 42-29 and was brutal on the powerplay at 3 of 4 while blanking Portland on two attempts. Logan Stankoven scored twice and had an assist, while Caeden Banker scored once with two assists in a 5-0 win.
The games head back to Portland on Wednesday and Thursday, where Portland will seek at least a split to keep the series alive.
Seattle, in their series with Prince George, handed the Cougars 4-1 and 5-1 losses, respectively, as the series returns to PG for the first time in the second round since 2007. Ty Brennen, who has not played this series since what appeared to be an injury against Tri-City, signed a three-year entry deal with the New Jersey Devils.
Out East, the Red Deer Rebels have shocked Saskatoon Blades with two wins in Saskatoon 3-1 and 5-2. Red Deer scored twice in the first game and held Saskatoon to their first goal until late in the third period after a scoreless first period. The Rebels then tacked on the empty net goal with seconds left in the game.
Red Deer almost mirrored the result in the second game, scoring four goals straight, three in the second and one in the third, before Saskatoon got on the board. Saskatoon scored on the powerplay midway through the third, but Red Deer got that back three minutes later. Saskatoon scored on the powerplay with 12 seconds left but loses 5-2, and the series stranglehold goes to Red Deer with them in the lead.
The matchup people wanted to see was Winnipeg ICE vs. Moose Jaw Warriors. The ICE scored three straight times in the first period to control the game completely. However, Moose Jaw wasn’t going away quietly as they then scored three of their own, including a late first-period goal to tie the game at three midway through the second period.
The ICE scored twice in just over four minutes early in the third period and kept the Warriors off the scoresheet for the remainder of the game.
The next night Moose Jaw scored four goals in the first nine and a half minutes of the first period, chasing Daniel Hauser from the net. Mason Beaupit took over and shut out the Warriors the rest of the way. Winnipeg scored three times in the third period, but their comeback was snuffed out when Moose Jaw Josh Hoekstra scored the empty net goal with three seconds remaining. The series goes back Tuesday and Wednesday and is the only series guaranteed to go at least five games, with the fifth game back in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 22.
Not a great deal of surprises on victors, but lopsided scores remain a bit of a surprise.
It will be interesting to see how games three and four go.