Winterhawks shut down Kamloops in Game 2

Portland takes 2-0 lead as series shifts to Kamloops

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



PORTLAND — Seth Jones saw open ice and took it.

Brendan Leipsic saw open teammates and found them.

And the Kamloops Blazers had trouble finding space to do much of anything.

The result was a 4-0 win on Saturday for the Portland Winterhawks that gives them a 2-0 lead in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference finals, and plenty of momentum as the series shifts to Kamloops.

Leipsic and Rattie each had a goal and a pair of assists, and goalie Mac Carruth stopped all 27 Kamloops shots for his sixth career playoff shutout in front of 9,132 fans at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Games 3 and 4 are Tuesday and Wednesday in Kamloops. Game 5, if needed, will be on Friday at the Rose Garden.

Goals by Jones in the first period and in the second by Rattie had Portland up 2-0. The Winterhawks added a pair of power-play goals in the third period to seal the deal.

Kamloops hasn’t scored a goal since getting one at 2:08 of Game 1 on Friday. The Blazers are now scoreless on 10 power plays through two games, and Portland was sometimes more dangerous than the visitors when Kamloops had a man advantage.

“That’s a good power play on their side. It’s not easy to stop them,” acting Winterhawks coach Travis Green said. “We stick to our system. Our guys are smart players. They’re smart penalty killers. They understand their roles and they’ve done a good job so far.”

What Portland has done since the early moments of Game 1 is keep Kamloops away from the front of the net. The Blazers scored 41 goals through their first 10 playoff games, but their offensive leaders were blanked over the first two games against the Winterhawks.

“We’re just taking away their time and space,” Jones said. “We’re denying their cycle game. They really thrive off of down-low plays and cuts to the net. Our foot speed’s been really good and I think we’re taking away their low plays.”

Jones found his own time and space and turned it into Saturday’s first goal. After Joey Baker won a puck battle along the defensive wall, Taylor Peters fed Jones, and the defenseman carried the puck with speed into the attack zone. With Blazers’ defenders backing up, Jones kept the puck, circled behind the net and stuffed the puck past goalie Cole Cheveldave.

“I saw open ice. When they give you open ice you’ve got to take it sometimes,” Jones said. “I was toward the end of my shift, but I thought that was a pretty good time to jump into the play. I thought their defensive gap wasn’t that good, so I definitely took advantage of that.”

Portland’s top line took it from there, as Rattie, Leipsic and Nic Petan added goals.

Rattie’s second-period goal was set up by a nifty Leipsic pass through a Kamloops defender in the slot for Rattie to lift into the open side of the net. That play came just after a power-play expired.

“I just walked down the slot. It’s nice (Rattie) got it over the arm of Cheveldave there,” Leipsic said.

The goal was Rattie’s 13th of the playoffs and 43rd of his career, moving the 19-year-old to within four of the all-time WHL career record of Mark Pederson, who scored 47 times for Medicine Hat from 1983-88.

Leipsic also had the primary assist on the third goal. He took a pass from Rattie and shoved it to Petan for a wide-open finish on the power play 45 seconds into the third period that pretty much ended any hope for Kamloops.

“I just knew Nick was coming down the back door, I just put it on a tee for him to put it in the net,” Leipsic said.

Leipsic added his goal on a power-play midway through the third period, following a puck from Rattie to the front of the crease for the finishing touch.

From there, it was a matter of riding out Kamloops’ frustration and helping Carruth notch another shutout.

“Mac was good in net. I thought our defensemen were great tonight. And I liked how our forwards back-checked,” Green said.

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