The games start for round 2 in earnest, with eight teams vying for the right to represent the WHL at the Memorial Cup.
Portland faces Seattle in one of those matchups. Still, due to a scheduling conflict being graduation ceremonies at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the Hawks will start game one in Kent on Saturday.
Portland will host the Thunderbirds on Sunday at 5 pm and Wednesday at 7 pm before the series switches to Kent and back and forth.
Both teams swept their first round series, with Portland taking out Prince George and Seattle blasting out the Kelowna Rockets. Since the trade deadline, Portland has primarily used goaltender Taylor Gauthier, and he has gone 6-2 in those games against Seattle.
It is a new season, but the record weighs heavily on both teams as they get ready to clash again.
Other matches include Vancouver, who caused significant waves in the WHL with a relatively quick exit of the Everett Silvertips. The Tips were the top team in the Western Conference but fell in six games to Vancouver. The Giants will now travel to Kamloops to face the Blazers, who were the number two team in the Western Conference as well as the BC Division champions.
Edmonton Oil Kings, who were battling off and on for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with Winnipeg ICE, but settled for the second spot. Edmonton, which quickly dispatched Lethbridge Hurricanes, now faces the Red Deer Rebels, who took six games to get rid of Brandon Wheat Kings.
Winnipeg Ice, who looked to be getting competition from Prince Albert Raiders, but took care of business quickly, will now face the Moose Jaw Warriors, who took out Saskatoon Blades in four straight.
Eyes will be on the Eastern Conference if Edmonton and Winnipeg meet, as they were the constant pair at the top of the CHL poll during the season.
Edmonton started the second round with a game against the Rebels and looked all of what they have been talked about with a solid 4-0 win. Red Deer started rookie Chase Coward, but he was replaced after the second period after giving up the four goals on 27 shots. Edmonton has been using Sebastian Cossa, who is their top goaltender.
Two players from the Hawks are listed in the top 200 in the final rankings from the NHL combine. James Stefan is ranked 157 and Matthew Alscher at 177. Several players are already signed or drafted from the Hawks, which is why only two are currently listed, though.
The Winterhawks make the news as alumni make splashes in the news.
Matt Bardsley, who was with the Hawks until his shot as the General Manager of the Kamloops Blazers, is now the GM of the Spokane Chiefs. Bardsley wanted to be closer to home with family, and the travel to Kamloops was tougher even still with the Covid crisis going on. After leaving the Blazers, Bardsley was a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers while being based out of Portland. The Chiefs’ acquisition of Bardsley is huge for that organization after the quick and humiliating exit from the playoffs this year by Kamloops. Bardsley had a strong record while in Kamloops for nearly three years and will definitely make an immediate impact with the Chiefs. Being that he has a full summer to assess talent and create a lineup, the Chiefs, who barely made the postseason this year, are going to be one to watch in the coming year or two.