The 2023-2024 WHL Playoffs Are In Full Swing, With The Portland Winterhawks Off To A Hot Start

With the jitters of being in the postseason now over and the playoffs now in full swing, the first two games are under the belt for both teams. Some surprises are coming out of the action thus far as well. 

In Portland, the Winterhawks chase the dream versus Victoria started with a Luca Cagnoni score that was met with a Victoria equalizer less than a minute later. Late in the second period, Victoria added another and closed the period leading by one. Three straight Portland goals within 8 minutes by Carter Southern, Gabe Klassen, and Luca Cagnoni gave the Hawks a 4-2 lead. Victoria scored a late powerplay goal and pulled Braeden Holt for an extra attacker, but couldn’t get the equalizer and gave the Hawks a 4-3 win. Portland outshot Victoria 34-25 and were 1-2 on the powerplay with Victoria 1-5. Just under 5000 took in the contest. Almost 7,000 took in the following night’s game. No word on how many took up the offer on the Winterhawks tattoo for tickets during Fan Fest. 

Portland came out swinging and scored three times in the first period, with James Stefan bookending Luca Cagnoni’s goal, leading to a 3-0 first-period lead. Stefan’s first was on the powerplay. 

Former Winterhawk Dawson Pasternak scored what would be the only goal for Victoria early in the second while on the powerplay. Just past the midway mark of the second frame, Josh Davies added another one to the powerplay, which was the only period they were outshot in. Nate Danielson’s early goal in the third frame put Portland up 5-1 and the win. Portland outshot Victoria 33-20 with them hitting 2-6 on the powerplay and Victoria 1-4 on theirs. The next three games will be played in Victoria, and chances are that Portland will capture the series on the road. 

Prince George Cougars are also facing three on the road in Spokane after demolishing the Chiefs 6-1 and a closer 7-4 game. Everett seemed to have a tough time at home versus Vancouver, losing game one 6-4 but coming back 2-1 in a close one. The next two are in Langley, and Everett needs a split to take back the series. 

Wenatchee heads to Kelowna after the Rockets snagged a split against the Wild. A crazy 8-6 game favoring the Wild gave way to a 3-1 Rocket win. 

Out East, the Saskatoon Blades split with Prince Albert after Prince Albert weathered a 44-22 shot barrage and beat the Blades 4-3. The Blades’s 4-1 victory the next night gives the Raiders a split heading back to Raider territory. 

Moose Jaw Warriors lead 2-0 in the series with Brandon Wheat Kings with 7-4 and a squeaker 5-4 in overtime. 

Swift Current Broncos took a pair at home versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes 3-0 and 4-3, giving them a 2-0 series lead heading back to Lethbridge. 

Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels are deadlocked at a game apiece after a 5-4 going to the Rebels and 3-1 to the Tigers, with the series now headed to Medicine Hat. 

Though it’s only fantasy and will not happen in a game, Portland placed three players on the First All-Star team. Luca Cagnoni, Jan Spunar, and Gabe Klassen are on the first US Division team, while James Stefan is on the US Division’s second All-Star team.  

The next action begins Tuesday next week, with all teams in action this week. Then, reseeding begins. This would only affect the Swift Current Broncos, as they have fewer points than a couple of teams in the East Division.

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About Stuart Kemp 353 Articles
Stuart Kemp is the Immediate Past President of 15 years of the Booster Club. and has been following hockey from his native Canada since he can remember, though he can't skate, but played road hockey for several years. Loving hockey and professional wrestling, he has traveled to most of the WHL cities and with wrestling, has seen four provinces and five states. It is true that every Canadian city with more than 500 residents has a hockey rink, well at least it looks that way. Stuart has had his hand in every facet of independent Professional wrestling as he debuted as an announcer in 1986 which started his career.

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