Rattie’s hat trick leads Winterhawks in playoff opener

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND — Ty Rattie was in regular-season form on Friday. Which is to say that the Portland Winterhawks forward was on target.

Rattie scored three goals as the Winterhawks opened the 2012 Western Hockey League playoffs with a 6-3 win over the Kelowna Rockets in front of 6,243 fans at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Game 2 of this best-of-7 playoff series is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum.

Rattie led the Winterhawks with 57 goals and 121 points during the regular season. Three goals on the first night of the postseason is a good opening statement.

“Another hat trick due to my linemates,” Rattie said, making it sound as easy as he made it look. “I don’t do much out there. I just get the puck and sometimes it goes in.”

Joe Morrow, Oliver Gabriel and Taylor Leier also scored for Portland.

Rattie scored the first two Portland goals off assists from Sven Bartschi as the Winterhawks shrugged off a 1-0 Kelowna lead. On the first one he finished a cross-ice pass from a difficult angle, lifting the puck over the glove of Kelowna goalie Adam Brown. On the second he tapped the puck past Brown after Bartschi barrelled through three defensemen to reach the crease.

Those high-quality goals were topped by the one that defenseman Joe Morrow netted with 1.8 seconds remaining in the second period, a laser that put the Winterhawks ahead to stay at 3-2.

Morrow knocked down the puck at the attacking blue line, side stepped one defenseman and had room and time to deliver.

“A little puck luck came my way,” Morrow said. “The guy tried to come hit me and I jumped out of the way. He flew by and I just tried to get to open space and get the puck on net and luckily it went in. That was a really good feeling to kind of change the momentum at the end of the period.”

Morrow also set up the next Portland goal, following his own shot and feeding Oliver Gabriel as Portland went up 4-2 early in the third. The Rockets pulled within 4-3 on a four-on-four goal from Colton Sissons with 11:56 remaining, But Leier punched in a rebound off the boards to make it 5-3 with just under nine minutes to play, and Rattie completed his hat trick off a feed from Marcel Noebels at 17:31 of the third period.

A fast start to the series, which figures to produce close games throughout, is a big deal for Rattie and his teammates.

“It puts in the back of their minds that we’re a real good team and we’re serious this year,” Rattie said. “We have 15 more wins to our ultimate goal.”

NOTE — Rattie wasn’t the only WHL forward to open the playoffs with a hat trick on Friday. Camas resident Trevor Cheek scored three goals for Calgary as the Hitmen beat Brandon 4-0.