It may be a weird one in the next round as Portland has home-ice advantage due to a major upset in the US Division. Seattle was all packed to travel north to face Everett; instead, that bus is heading south. Kamloops was prepared to get their travel legs on come next week. Instead, they host someone closer to home.
As people know, Portland dispatched Prince George in 4 games, the same for Kamloops over Spokane and Seattle over Kelowna. The series left to be decided was Vancouver and Everett.
After the Giants scored a shocking 5 to 4 overtime win to start the series, the Silvertips came back with solid wins to lead the series 2-1. In what can only be described as a complete meltdown, Vancouver walloped Everett 11-6 in Langley, and then a 50 save performance in Everett by Jesper Vikman shocked the Tips in a 3-0 shutout before the Everett hometown faithful.
In game six, Everett played Vancouver with a shot total of 13-12, favoring Everett. However, the goals were all Vancouver, with three in the first 12 minutes of the game. In the second period, where they scored against Vikman, Everett was outshot 11-4, which tells most that they knew they were done. The third period was almost all Vancouver on the shot clock leading 15 to 7. Everett scored midway through the third period, but a pair of goals just over a minute apart late in the third period by the Giants spelled the end. Everett was able to get a goal with just over a minute left, but the damage was done. The final shots went to Vancouver 38-25, and both teams went 1 for 3 on the man advantage. The final was 5-3 score and a 4-3 series win for the Giants.
Never in the history of the WHL has a number eight seed; in this case, Vancouver defeated a number one seed in the first round of the playoffs. It is not a great exit for the Tips, who had a strong season throughout the year. Vancouver, which just barely made the playoffs this year, is now the lowest seed left in the playoffs.
What this means now is that Portland, who was looking at a pair of weekend games in Kamloops before heading home to two weeknight games, will now host Seattle with a pair of weekend games before heading to Kent and a pair of midweek games.
Though a schedule hasn’t been announced, games should be starting with Friday and Saturday in Portland, followed by Tuesday and Wednesday in Kent and either Friday or Saturday in Portland, Monday in Kent, and Wednesday in Portland if the series goes seven games.
Vancouver will be the least rested team with just four days from the last series to the second round.
Taylor Gauthier, with his solid performance in the final two games against Prince George, nabbed the Goaltender of the Week honors with a 0.50 Goals Against Average.