Memorial Cup notes: No trouble keeping an eye on your dog in Saskatoon
Saskatoon and Portland have something in common the cities, anyway.
Saskatoon has lots of bridges. So does Portland.
Portland Winterhawks forward Taylor Leier, a Saskatoon native, is talking up the city to his teammates as they prepare for the Memorial Cup tournament there Friday through May 26.
Leier grew up going to Saskatoon Blades' games (the Blades, as host, are one of four teams in the tourney).
Leier had a conversation with Winterhawks general manager/coach Mike Johnston recently, and Johnston told him to enjoy every minute of the Memorial Cup in his hometown.
Saskatoon has about 300,000 people and "everyone knows everyone, pretty much, if you're my age," Leier says.
But Saskatoon and Portland differ in another aspect topography.
"It's flat. The prairie's like nothing here (in Portland)," Leier says.
Hawks defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who is from Weyburn, 3 1/2 hours drive time south of Saskatoon, put it best:
"You can see your dog run away for two days."
The first game in the Memorial Cup is London vs. Saskatoon at 5 p.m. PT Friday.
Portland's opener is 4 p.m. PT Saturday against Halifax.
Saskatoon plays Halifax at 4 p.m. PT Sunday, and Portland takes on London at 5 p.m PT Monday. On Tuesday, it's Halifax-London at 5 p.m. PT. Wednesday's game is Portland-Saskatoon at 5 p.m. PT.
Then it's on to the 5 p.m. PT semifinals May 23-24 and the finals on Sunday, May 26, at 4 p.m. PT.
All Portland games will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Northwest and KPAM (860 AM), and all Cup games will be broadcast tape-delayed on the NHL Network.
You don't have Comcast or NHL Network, or you want to go watch the Hawks' games with somebody else? Here are some establishments for viewing parties:
McGillicuddy's, 11133 N.E. Halsey St.; Sports Page, 8590 S.W. Hall Blvd., Beaverton; Brix Tavern, 1338 N.W. Hoyt St.; GameTime, 17880 Lower Boones Ferry Road, Lake Oswego; Sinnot's Lil' Cooperstown, 5851 N.E. Halsey St.; Kenton Station, 8303 N. Denver Ave.; The Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits, 2420 Columbia House Blvd., Vancouver, Wash.
The playoffs and Memorial Cup serve as good stages for signed and unsigned NHL players and NHL prospects.
Portland defenseman Seth Jones didn't exactly need the stage. He's projected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NHL draft.
But Winterhawks forward Nicolas Petan has certainly increased his NHL draft stock this season, despite his 5-9, 165-pound frame. And he could be another first-round NHL pick for the Hawks.
"He's been clutch all season for us," fellow Winterhawks forward Ty Rattie says. "For a 17-year-old, he came up huge, and it speaks to his character and how good of a player he's going to be. If I was an NHL GM, I'd be jumping all over him right now.
"Every NHL team wants a winner. I remember going to the (NHL) combine, and the first thing they say is, 'We want a winner, a guy who competes.' Nic Petan is right up that alley. He's going to have a successful NHL career, and his size doesn't matter, not with how fast and skilled he is."