Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's Winterhawks and Oil Kings . . . again!

1. The more things change, the more they stay the same. That is the case in the WHL where the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks will meet for a third straight spring with the Ed Chynoweth Cup on the line. . . . Only once before in WHL history have the same two teams met in three straight WHL championship finals. The Edmonton Oil Kings and Flin Flon Bombers did it from 1969-71. . . . The Bombers won the best-of-seven final 4-2 to cap the 1968-69 season, the third in league history. . . . The next season, Flin Flon swept the series, 4-0. . . . In the spring of 1971, the Oil Kings won 4-1 with one game tied. . . . Interestingly, the original Edmonton Oil Kings franchise now is the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The new Oil Kings entered the WHL as an expansion franchise for the 2007-08 season.

2. The Oil Kings and Winterhawks will open Saturday in Portland, with all games to be televised by Shaw. . . . Two years ago, the Oil Kings won in seven games. Last spring, the Winterhawks won it in six games. . . . This time, then, the final will last five games. . . . In the only meeting between the teams this season, host Edmonton won 5-4 in a shootout on Dec. 6.

3. You have to think Seattle Thunderbirds F Mathew Barzal will never again cough up the puck when he is the last man back in his zone. That’s what happened Saturday in Finland and the resulting goal by F David Kase gave Czech Republic a 4-3 OT victory over Canada in a semifinal game at the IIHF U-18 world championship. Canada had trailed 3-0 before coming back to force OT. . . . Barzal had a goal and an assist during the game, but chances are that he won't remember either of them. . . . Finland and the U.S. will meet today for the gold medal. Canada will play Sweden for bronze at 5 a.m. Pacific time.

QMJHL4. In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads got an OT goal from F Maxime Fortier and beat the visiting Val-d'Or Foreurs 4-3 on Saturday night. . . . The game wasn’t without controversy. After the game, Willy Palov of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald tweeted a quote from Val-d’Or head coach Mario Durocher: “The guys are really pissed because we think it was a hand pass.” . . . The Mooseheads lead the best-of-three conference final 3-2 with Game 6 at Val-d’Or on Monday. . . . The Foreurs once led this series, 2-0. . . . Halifax F Jonathan Drouin had a 13-game point streak ended. He leads the QMJHL playoff scoring race with 37 points in 14 games. Going back to the regular-season, Drouin had been riding a 26-game point streak. He had scored 74 points in those 26 games.

5. If you’re like me, you cringe every time you see Boston Bruins F Milan Lucic go into that chest-thumping routine.

6. Right-hander Brandon Morrow of the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t allow even one hit to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday. Unfortunately for Blue Jays fans, he walked eight. Oh, and he only lasted 2 2/3 innings. The Blue Jays, who led 3-0 early, ended up losing, 7-6, for their fourth straight loss.

7. How long before we file the Blue Jays with the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners?

8. Donald Sterling, who owns the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, would appear to be a serial racist. His latest faux pas has lots of folks, including those on TNT’s NBA panel, screaming for disciplinary action from the league. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated has more right here. . . . While the likes of Earvin (Magic) Johnson, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant spoke out against Sterling, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, through a team spokesman, declined to comment.

According to the Prince George Citizen, Andy Beesley, the city’s associate director of recreation and cultural services, is joining the Prince George Cougars as the WHL team’s business manager. Beesley has handed in his resignation, effective Friday. . . . Beesley has some hockey history with Prince George businessman Greg Pocock, who heads up a group that is in the process of purchasing the franchise from Rick Brodsky. . . . The Citizen’s story is right here. . . . There is speculation that former Cougars head coach Ed Dempsey will work with the new ownership group as an advisor. Dempsey spent two seasons (1995-97) as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, before moving on to the Cougars. He was their head coach for six full seasons before being fired on Oct. 6, 2003. . . . Vancouver Canucks D Dan Hamhuis, who is part of the new ownership group, played four seasons for Dempsey with the Cougars. D Eric Brewer of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who also is part of the Cougars ownership group, played one season under Dempsey.
Lake Superior State has signed Damon Whitten as the head coach of its hockey team, the Lakers. He replaces Jim Roque, who was fired in March. . . . Whitten has been an assistant coach for the last four years, working under head coaches Jamie Russell and then Mel Pearson at Michigan Tech. . . . The Lakers finished ninth in the WCHA this season and didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven):
(Edmonton wins, 4-1)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
Friday: Medicine Hat 3 at Edmonton 8 (7,694)
Sunday: Medicine Hat 1 at Edmonton 3 (5,763)
Tuesday: Edmonton 1 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,189)
Wednesday: Edmonton 4 at Medicine Hat 1 (3,832)
Saturday: Medicine Hat 3 at Edmonton 4 (8,408)
Edmonton: None.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, day-to-day; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
(Portland wins, 4-1)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland 4 at Kelowna 5 (6,218)
Saturday: Portland 5 at Kelowna 3 (6,341)
Tuesday: Kelowna 3 at Portland 4 (OT) (9,259)
Wednesday: Kelowna 1 at Portland 5 (9,744)
Friday: Portland 7 at Kelowna 3 (6,331)
THE FOURTH ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
WHL final, for the Ed Chynoweth Cup
(x - if necessary)
(all games televised by Shaw)
PORTLAND (2, West) vs. Edmonton (1, East)
Season series: Portland, 0-0-1; Edmonton, 1-0-0.
Saturday: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (Moda Center)
Sunday, May 4: Edmonton at Portland, 5 p.m. (Moda Center)
Tuesday, May 6: Portland at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 7: Portland at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Friday, May 9: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (TBA)
x-Sunday, May 11: Portland at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
x-Monday, May 12: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (TBA)
Portland: None.
Edmonton: None.

In Edmonton, F Brett Pollock broke a 3-3 tie late in the third period and the Oil Kings went on to beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-3. . . . The Oil won the Eastern Conference final, 4-1, and advanced to their third straight WHL championship final, each of them against the Portland Winterhawks. . . . This year’s final will open Saturday in Portland, with all games televised by Shaw. . . . Pollock scored twice in the game, giving him 10 goals in these playoffs, and also had an assist. . . . His second goal, the winner, came at 14:22 of the third period. . . . Pollock had seven points in the series, including five goals, three of which were winners. . . . “It was tough to see out there because his cape was flapping around on the ice,” Edmonton F Curtis Lazar said of Pollock in a story posted on the team’s website. Lazar was named the series’ MVP. “He’s had a great playoffs for us, and just to see the strides he’s taken this season – it’s awesome.” . . . The Tigers led twice, first when F Jacob Doty got his first goal at 8:49 of the first period. That was the first time in the series that Medicine Hat scored first. . . . Edmonton F Edgars Kulda tied it with his sixth goal, on a PP, at 4:18 of the second. . . . Tigers F Cole Sanford put his guys out front again, with his 10th goal, at 10:03 of the second. . . . The Oil Kings then scored twice, with Pollock finding the range at 14:03 and F Mads Eller getting his second goal of these playoffs, shorthanded, at 17:14. . . . Sanford pulled the Tigers even again at 1:57 of the third, setting the stage for Pollock’s winner. . . . Lazar, who drew an assist on the winner, was named the series’ MVP. He had six points, including four goals, in the five games. . . . Edmonton G Tristan Jarry stopped 16 shots. He wasn’t nearly as busy as Medicine Hat’s Marek Langhamer who was outstanding, with 48 saves. . . . The Oil Kings were 1-for-4 on the PP; the Tigers were 0-for-3. . . . Medicine Hat F Trevor Cox, who had 23 points in 17 playoff games, was scratched after suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 4. . . . The Tigers moved F Miles Koules into Cox’s spot alongside Curtis Valk and Sanford. . . . Edmonton F Henrik Samuelsson and Lazar each finished with one assist, leaving them tied for the franchise record for most career playoff points. Samuelsson has 48 points, including 17 goals, in 53 games; Lazar, who has 25 goals, has played in 60 games. . . . Edmonton D Blake Orban had one assist as he played for the first time since March 8. . . . The 50/50 winner went home with $27,744, assuming it was claimed.

From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts): “.828 - Over the past 3 years, the @EdmOilKings and @pdxwinterhawks are a combined 72-15 in the first 3 playoff rounds.”
From Seattle Thunderbirds G Danny Mumaugh (@DannyMumaugh): “Don't worry, I still love you, @Barzal_97”

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