The Portland Winterhawks didn’t have their top scorer for Game 2 of the Western Hockey League finals. One of the smallest players on the ice made sure they didn’t miss Ty Rattie on Friday.
Brendan Leipsic — the 5-9, 175-pound bundle of energy — scored two goals and the Winterhawks evened the best-of-7 series at 1-1 with a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings at Rexall Place.
Game 3 is 6 p.m. on Sunday in the Rose Garden.
Sven Bartschi also scored twice and Mac Carruth played a strong game in goal for the Winterhawks.
Leipsic scored the first two goals, including one in a three-goal second period that keyed the Portland win in Edmonton. Taylor Peters also scored for Portland, which led 4-0 after two periods.
Rattie, the leading scorer in the WHL playoffs, sat out Game 2. He crashed to the boards in the third period of Game 1 and did not return to that contest.
“Guys had to step up,” Leipsic said. “It was nice to get a couple of goals. But the nice thing is we got a win.”
Portland coach Mike Johnston talked after the win about his team’s experience with handling adversity, including lineup changes. In this case, 16-year-old center Nicholas Petan stepped into the right-wing position on Portland’s first line.
“I thought Nick Petan played great,” Johnston said.
Portland got consistent play throughout its lineup, and from Carruth. The goalie stopped 38 of the 39 shots he faced, often by being in position and letting pucks hit him.
“I definitely felt more comfortable tonight. Today the pucks just seemed to find me,” Carruth said.
Kristians Pelss scored a rebound goal 4:44 into the third period for the Oil Kings.
With the score 3-0 in the second period, Portland got a break when the puck bounced into their goal during a scramble at the side of the net. The goal was waved off on the ice, and that call was upheld after a video review — though one angle appeared to show the puck bouncing off Carruth’s leg and into the goal.
That break was multiplied when Peters scored at the end of a rush, converting a Taylor Leier pass at 18:38 of the second period to push Portland ahead 4-0.
Leipsic scored his second goal off an Edmonton turnover at 9:20 of the second period to give Portland a 2-0 lead. Just over a minute later Bartschi ripped the puck inside the left post with Portland on the power play to make it 3-0. He took a cross ice pass from Troy Rutkowski, perhaps the best defenseman on the ice in Friday’s game.
Leipsic scored the only goal of the first period, beating Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoit with a back-hand shot at the end of an odd-man rush. Brad Ross broke behind the defense and sent a pass to Leipsic in the middle.
“It was nice to see a couple go in (against Brossoit),” Leipsic said. “I know he’s had a really good playoff, so it definitely gives us some confidence now.”