The Portland Winterhawks closed out the Western Hockey League final in decisive fashion with a Game 6 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings Sunday at Rexall Place in Edmonton to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
The Winterhawks led by interm head coach and Castlegar native Travis Green and Trail forward Joey Baker eliminated the Oil Kings and Montrose’s Luke Bertolucci 5-1, booking their ticket to the Memorial Cup, May 17-26 in Saskatoon.
“We have a real special group,” Green told the Portland Tribune. “They stay with their game. It was a great series. We had to play well to beat Edmonton, and we did.”
Ty Rattie netted the hat trick including the game-winning goal, shorthanded, to snap a 1-1 tie at 7:15 in the first period to pace the Hawks to their first trip to the junior hockey championship since they last won it in 1998.
Portland, which moved to 3-8 in WHL finals after its third consecutive appearance, will be playing in its fifth Memorial Cup tournament, and going for its third Cup title — winning in 1983 as hosts and 1998 at Spokane.
In that year, Trail native Todd Robinson was the Hawk’s leading scorer, winning the Memorial Cup with the likes of teammates Marion Hossa, Brenden Morrow, and Andrew Ferrence.
Rattie was also named playoff MVP, setting the all-time playoff scoring record held by Medicine Hat Tiger Mark Pederson (1983-88) with his 48th tally on the first goal of the game.
It was sweet redemption for the Winterhawks, who have played without suspended coach and GM Mike Johnston since November, part of the extensive penalties levied against the organization by the WHL for what the league deemed excessive player benefits.
The penalties from the league office fueled the Winterhawk players, culminating in an outstanding season under acting coach and general manager Green and the Chynoweth Cup, handed to them by WHL commissioner Ron Robison.
“I’’m really proud of this group, proud of our whole staff,” Green said. “My heart goes out to a guy who’s waiting at home for us. We owe a lot to Mike (Johnston).”
The Oil Kings were down three games to one, but a 3-2 overtime win on Friday forced Game 6 in Portland.
Portland begins its quest for the Memorial Cup on Saturday with a game against the Halifax Mooseheads.
The Providence Bruins and Warfield’s Craig Cunningham are off to an impressive second series start, winning the first two games of the best of seven Eastern Conference semifinal over the weekend.
The Bruins clobbered the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins 8-2 on Friday, and followed that up with a 4-2 victory the following night.
The line of Jamie Tardif, Chris Bourque and Ryan Spooner produced four first-period goals and the Bruins took a 2-0 series lead with the victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Providence, R.I.
Cunningham picked up an assist and was named the game’s third star Saturday, while tallying a goal and an assist in the drubbing on Friday night.
Game 3 between the Bruins and Penguins goes tonight at 7 p.m.