Junior hockey roundup: Winterhawks to face Vancouver in playoffs

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



Portland Winterhawks

This week: 7:35 p.m. Friday at Seattle; 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Seattle (Veterans Memorial Coliseum); 5 p.m. Sunday vs. Everett (Veterans Memorial Coliseum).

Last week: Beat Seattle 7-3; beat Vancouver 4-1, beat Tri-City 3-2 in overtime.

Where they stand: At 51-13-2-3, the Winterhawks have 107 points. They have won their second consecutive U.S. Division title and third in four seasons. Portland is seeded No. 2 in the Western Conference for the playoffs, as Kelowna has wrapped up the league’s best record.

Vancouver first playoff foe: The schedule is set for the Winterhawks first-round playoff series against the No. 7 seed Vancouver Giants. Games 1 and 2 are March 21 and 22 in at the Moda Center, Games 3-4 are March 25 and 26 at Vancouver. If needed, Game 5 will be March 28 at the Moda Center, Game 6 on March 30 at Vancouver and Game 7 on April 1 at the Moda Center.

Burke returns: Brendan Burke returned to action in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win over Tri-City. Burke missed 12 games due to illness. Winterhawks coach Mike Johnston said after Tuesday’s win that Burke is the team’s No. 1 goalie. Corbin Boes, who played well in Burke’s absence, suffered a hip injury in last Friday’s game against Seattle. Johnston said that Boes should be available soon. Adin Hill, stopped all 12 shots he saw after relieving Boes last Friday against Seattle then made 28 saves on Saturday in a 4-1 win over Vancouver.

Poise and persistence: In Tuesday’s overtime win against Tri-City, Americans goalie Eric Comrie made 46 saves, including 22 in the first period.

“It’s good to have a tight game like that where we got down early in the third period. We just had to stick with it,” said Brendan Leipsic, who scored the winner 30 seconds into overtime. “I thought we stayed composed. That’s going to happen. In a playoff series you might run into a hot goaltender like that. You’ve just got to keep sticking with it.”

Dumba heating up: Matt Dumba scored two goals on wrist-shot lasers on Friday against Seattle, then on Tuesday forced overtime with a blast from the point. The Minnesota Wild prospect with one of the hardest shots in the WHL is up to six goals in 24 games since joining the Winterhawks in January.

Leipsic on his reaction if he is in front of the goal when Dumba shoots: “I try to get the (heck) out of the way.”

Cups on display: The Stanley Cup and the Lester Patrick Cup (the championship trophy from the old professional Western Hockey League) will be on display on the concourse of the Moda Center during the Winterhawks’ March 21 playoff opener. The cups will be displayed after the game at the new restaurant at the Rose Quarter, Dr. Jack’s.

In 1916, the Portland Rosebuds became the first United States team to compete for the Stanley Cup, losing Game 5 of the best-of-5 series 2-1 to the Montreal Canadiens. The Portland Buckaroos, original tenants of Memorial Coliseum, won the Lester Patrick Cup in 1961, 1965 and 1971.

Fans can also see the trophies at the Oregon Historical Society from 7:30-9 p.m. on March 20 and from noon to 4 p.m. on March 21. The Oregon Historical Society is hosting a “100 Years of Hockey in Portland” display through April 1.

Points race: Portland’s Nic Petan trails Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg by seven points for the league scoring title. Holmberg (116 points) had a nine-point week to pull ahead in the race. Spokane has two games remaining and Portland has three. The Winterhawks Oliver Bjorkstrand is third with 102 points.

Northern Pacific Hockey League

NPHL champions: In the league where the Fort Vancouver Vipers finished 0-40 this season, Bellingham won its second consecutive title. The Blazers beat the West Sound Warriors 6-5 in overtime in the fifth game of the best-of-5 series and will represent the league in the USA Hockey Junior Tier III National Championships in April in Connecticut.