Monday, March 19, 2012

Eastern Conference
Edmonton (1) vs. Kootenay (8)
Moose Jaw (2) vs. Regina (7)
Calgary (3) vs. Brandon (6)
Medicine Hat (4) vs. Saskatoon (5)
Western Conference
Tri-City (1) vs. Everett (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Victoria (7)
Portland (3) vs. Kelowna (6)
Vancouver (4) vs. Spokane (5)
In Portland, the Winterhawks beat the Seattle Thunderbirds 8-2 in the final game of the WHL’s 2011-12 regular season. . . . The outcome allowed the Everett Silvertips to finish eighth in the Western Conference, meaning a first-round date with the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Thunderbirds needed a victory in order to pull into a tie with Everett. Had that happened, the teams would have played a sudden-death game in Seattle’s home arena in Kent, Wash. . . . Portland will open as the No. 3 seed against the No. 7 Kelowna Rockets. That series starts Friday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. . . . Portland got three goals from F Oliver Gabriel, his second hat trick this season and the 13th by the Winterhawks. . . . Portland F Ty Rattie had two goals, giving him 57, and an assist. He finished third in goals and third in points (121). . . . The Winterhawks rested starter Mac Carruth, who led the WHL with 42 victories, and started Brendan Burke. Portland also scratched D Joe Morrow, F Brad Ross, F Brendan Leipsic and F Sven Baertschi, who was returned by the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Saturday. . . . Burke stopped 29 shots to earn the victory. . . . Portland had F Keegan Iverson, who signed yesterday (more on this below) in the lineup. . . .
After the game in Portland, Winterhawks D Troy Rutkowski (@TRutter2) tweeted: “Congrats to @cpickard1 on a great career in the #whl. 3 years with 2000 saves. Anyone who's played against him knows how good he is #theman”
However, the tweet of the week goes to Everett D Brennan Yadlowski (@BigBadYads) for this one on Sunday: “If Portland beats Seattle I’ll come in their room again . . . except this time to kiss every one of them #ptownforplayoffs”
Of course, Yadlowski served a 10-game suspension earlier in the season after entering the Portland dressing room following an on-ice altercation.
F Dillon Wagner, Seattle.
A note from a reader of the blog:
Thanks for the tip on Thom Beuning . . . what a refreshing upgrade, even in tough circumstances. Not the greatest scenario to describe tonight, but he is very good, and pleasant to tune to . . . even sounded like he could be a neutral site.
The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Keegan Iverson, a 15-year-old product of Breck High School in Minneapolis. Iverson had 36 points, including 13 goals, in 23 games with Breck this season. He was the only Grade 9 player on Breck’s varsity team that got to the state semifinals. Iverson has been on Portland’s protected list since last summer and was in its training camp prior to this season. “Keegan was outstanding in training camp for us last summer, and went on to have a terrific season at Breck. Signing him has been a big priority for us this season,” Mike Johnston, Portland’s general manager and head coach, said in a news release. “As a converted defenseman, Keegan combines physical play with tremendous offensive abilities. To thrive as a 15-year-old in Minnesota high school hockey is remarkable.” . . . More from that news release: “Iverson is the latest high-profile American player the Hawks have signed in the last year, joining recent signees Dominic Turgeon (Colorado) and Alex Schoenborn (North Dakota), along with last year’s signings of Brendan Burke (Arizona) and Chase De Leo (California), who are playing for the Winterhawks this season as 16-year-olds.”
F Brody Sutter, the captain of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, will join the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers early this week. The Checkers are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. They selected Sutter in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL draft. He had 60 points, including 30 goals, in 65 games this season.
Jesse Wallin, the general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, has been named head coach of the Canadian U-18 team that will play in the 2012 IIHF World Championship, April 12-22 in Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic. . . . The assistant coaches will be Gordie Dwyer, the head coach of the QMJHL’s P.E.I. Rocket, and Todd Gill, the head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . Ron Tugnutt, Hockey Canada’s goaltending consultant, will serve as goalie coach. . . . Canada’s team will comprise players from CHL teams that missed the playoffs or lose out in the first round. . . . Canada opens April 12 in Brno against Denmark. The Canadians will also face the Czech Republic, Finland and the United States in the preliminary round. . . . As an aside, Wallin told Greg Meachem, the sports editor of the Red Deer Advocate, that he and Gill have some history. “Todd was my defence partner in my first NHL game (with Detroit in 1999-2000), so it’s funny how the world kind of spins,”  Wallin told Meachem.

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