Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Cloudy

65°F

Portland

Cloudy

Humidity: 81%

Wind: 3 mph

  • 29 Aug 2014

    Mostly Cloudy 77°F 59°F

  • 30 Aug 2014

    Partly Cloudy 76°F 57°F


Edmonton has balance, depth

WHL finals

Portland vs. Edmonton

Game 1 — 7 p.m. Friday, Rose Garden

Game 2 — 7 p.m. Saturday, Rose Garden

Game 3 — 7 p.m. Tuesday, Edmonton

Game 4 — 7 p.m. Wednesday, Edmonton

Game 5 — 7 p.m. Friday, May 10, Rose Garden

Game 6 — 4 p.m. Sunday, May 12, Edmonton

Game 7 — 7 p.m., Monday, May 13, Rose Garden

It's on — Portland versus Edmonton in a rematch of the Western Hockey League finals.

The Oil Kings, who beat Calgary 2-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, bested the Winterhawks in the seven-game WHL finals last season. Edmonton dominated Game 7, winning 4-1 on home ice and advancing to the Memorial Cup tournament.

Both Portland and Edmonton eyed returns to the WHL finals and were stocked with several returning players. Now it has happened. Portland owns home-ice advantage this time, with the first two games at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Rose Garden. A Game 7 would be at the Rose Garden on May 13.

"Home ice is important when you get to Game 7," Portland coach Travis Green says. "At that point in the series, you're tired, and the crowd can put you over the top at a certain point in the game.

"But, if you're not good early in the series, you don't get to that point."

Edmonton beat Portland 4-3 on Feb. 27 in the teams' only meeting this season. The Oil Kings outshot Portland 42-29 and got the tie-breaking power-play goal by Michael St. Croix with 1:03 remaining.

"You could see the guys in the room really wanted to win," first-year Portland defenseman Seth Jones says. "That was a pretty emotional game."

The Oil Kings went 51-15-2-4 (108 points) in the regular season to Portland's 57-12-1-2 (117 points).

Both teams sport pro prospects and standout goalies (Edmonton's Laurent Brossoit, Portland's Mac Carruth).

St. Croix (37 goals-55 assists-92 points), Dylan Wruck (22-63-85), Henrik Samuelsson (33-47-80) and T.J. Foster (27-47-74) were the leaders of a balanced Edmonton scoring attack, while Portland's Nicolas Petan, Brendan Leipsic and Ty Rattie finished 1-2-3 in WHL scoring.

Rattie leads WHL playoff scoring with 15-16-31. St. Croix has 10-12-22 and Stephane Legault 6-13-19 to lead Edmonton.

The Oil Kings also have defensive depth, which has been needed, as NHL prospect Griffin Reinhart has been lost for the playoffs (foot injury).

"They're quick, and they want to make plays like us off the rush," Portland D-man Troy Rutkowski says. "They're a challenging team to play against. It should turn out to be a good series. The first game will be about learning and watching what they do."

Brossoit has a 1.58 goals-against average; Carruth is at 1.62.

It's the first rematch in the WHL finals since the New Westminster Bruins and Saskatoon Blades met in 1975 and '76.