Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's Ice vs. Winterhawks

It made something of a ripple when Jeff Chynoweth, the president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, revealed almost a year ago that his WHL team wouldn’t take part in the CHL’s 2010 import draft.
“Although we have been fortunate in the past with the CHL import draft,” Chynoweth reasoned in a news release, “we feel that in this day and age it is becoming very hard to attract the top European players.
“Our team is eligible to return 19 players and there is no guarantee if we selected a player (in the 2010 draft) that he would be able to play in our top six forwards or top four defencemen.”
Chynoweth took heat at the time, with some people saying that he owed it to the fans to ice the best possible product and pointing out that the best teams almost always include an import or two on their rosters.
Well, the Ice has won the Eastern Conference playoff championship and the roster that has made it this far has neither a European nor an American influence.
Of the WHL’s 22 teams, only the Ice and the Tri-City Americans don’t include even one import on their roster. (The Americans did use 20-year-old G Alexander Pechurskiy, a Russian, in three early-season games.)
The Ice would have had the 43rd selection in the 2010 import draft, but it dealt the selection to the Brandon Wheat Kings, who used it on Danish F Mark Mieritz.
You may recall that last season the Ice did use two Czechs — F Dominik Pacovsky and D Petr Senkerik. Pacovsky was 19 and didn’t come back as a two-spotter. Senkerik didn’t finish last season with the Ice, as he was dealt to the Prince George Cougars.
The Ice will open the best-of-seven WHL championship final on Friday in Portland against the Winterhawks.
Portland’s roster includes two high-flying Swiss forwards in sophomore Nino Niederreiter, who has a team-high 23 points in 16 games, and freshman Sven Bartschi, with 21 points in 16 outings.
Gee, I wonder which team will have Don Cherry’s support?

The Winterhawks qualified for the final by doubling the Chiefs 6-3 in Spokane on Monday night. . . . Portland won the Western Conference final, 4-2. . . . The Chiefs, who scored first in each of the six games, led 2-0 before the first period was four minutes old, on goals by F Marek Kalus and F Mike Aviani, but couldn’t hold it. . . . F Sven Bartschi got Portland on the board at 8:17 of the first period and F Ryan Johansen tied it at 9:38 of the second. . . . F Craig Cunningham gave Portland its first lead at 10:38, but Spokane F Levko Koper tied it at 19:44. . . . However, the Winterhawks scored the game’s last three goals, with D Troy Rutkowski breaking the tie at 5:22 of the third and F Ty Rattie (14:07) and F Nino Niederreiter (17:41) adding insurance. . . . Johansen, with five goals and three assists in the series, was named the MVP. . . . Cunningham, Bartschi and D Joe Morrow each had two assists for Portland. . . . F Dominik Uher had two helpers for the Chiefs. . . . Portland G Mac Carruth stopped 24 shots, while Spokane’s James Reid turned aside 32. . . . Each team was 0-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Winterhawks are 7-1 on the road in these playoffs. . . . Portland last appeared in a WHL final in the spring of 2001 when it lost to the Red Deer Rebels, who went on to win the Memorial Cup in Regina. . . . The final against the Kootenay Ice opens with games in Portland’s Rose Garden on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Ice won 5-3 in Portland on Dec. 1. . . . The Ice will arrive in Portland having won 11 straight playoff games, one off the WHL record.
Dave Trimmer of the Spokane Spokesman-Review was at last night’s game. His game story is right here.

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