Winterhawks finish off Everett to reach west final

Portland faces Kelowna beginning on Friday

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

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EVERETT — Oliver Bjorkstand did in the Everett Silvertips one more time, so his Portland Winterhawks are going to the Western Hockey League Western Conference finals for a fifth consecutive season.

Bjorkstrand scored twice in the second period on Sunday, providing the game-winning goal for the third time in the series as the Winterhawks beat the Everett Silvertips 3-2 at Xfinity Arena to win the best-of-7 series 4-1.

Portland will face the Kelowna Rockets in the conference finals, beginning on Friday in Kelowna.

While Bjorkstrand and linemate Nic Petan provided the offense, Winterhawks goalie Adin Hill was the hero with a series of athletic saves late in the third period to preserve the one-goal lead.

Twice Hill robbed Ivan Nikolishin with about six minutes left. Then, in the final minute when the Silvertips were playing with six skaters, Hill made a pad stop on a point-blank effort from Carson Stadnyk.

After Everett won the first game of the series, Portland won four tough battles, two of them in overtime.

A strong second period made the difference in Sunday’s series clincher. Bjorkstrand scored goals at 3:19 and 8:40 of the period off Petan feeds to give the Winterhawks a 3-1 lead.

The first of the second-period goals came after Bjorkstrand, Petan and Keegan Iverson kept the puck alive several times on a long shift in the attacking zone. Petan eventually took a shot from the left point and Bjorkstrand put the rebound home.

Bjorkstrand’s second goal came on the rush as he sent an up-ice pass from his own blueline to Petan at the attacking blueline. Petan waited for Bjorkstrand to enter the zone, sent the puck to him and Bjorkstrand scored from the high slot.

Portland played in Everett’s zone for long stretches of the second period. But Cole MacDonald found space in the high slot, and the defenseman scored with 1:07 left in the period to pull the Silvertips within 3-2 and set up a tense final period.

The last period featured several end-to-end sequences with scoring chances at each end, as well as several scrambling situations in front of Hill. But the Winterhawks goalie stopped all 12 shots he saw in the final period. The toughest of them came after Hill gave away the puck. He moved left to right to somehow deny Nikolishin who had an open net to shoot at. On the next Everett rush, Nikolishin had a shot from in close that Hill stopped.

A Petan goal on Portland’s only power play of the game put the Winterhawks up 1-0 6:43 into the game. He beat Silvertips goalie Carter Hart from the right circle. Jordan Wharrie tied it 1-1 converting on an up-ice rush after Hart denied Skyler McKenzie on a good wrap-around chance at the other end.

Petan had two goals and eight assists in the five games against Everett and has recorded a point in all 11 playoff games this season. Bjorkstrand had five goals in the series.

Portland was 3-1 against Kelowna during the regular season. But the last game between the teams was on Nov. 22, so those results don’t figure to factor into this series.

After playing on Friday and Saturday in Kelowna, Game 3 will be played on April 28 and Game 4 on April 29 in the Moda Center. The rest of the series, if needed, will be May 1 at Kelowna, May 3 at Portland and May 5 at Kelowna.