PORTLAND -- It’s been a historic run for the Portland Winterhawks, who set team records with 57 wins and 119 points, plus road wins, shutouts and fewest goals allowed.
“It’s very exciting,” said Hawks star defenseman Seth Jones (pictured, above). “It’s been a great season and we’ve done a lot of good things this season, but none of it matters anymore right now, because this is when the real time to play is.”
The Hawks are playing so well, they are the top-ranked junior team in North America.
“It’s an exciting time of the year,” said Hawks Coach Travis Green. “You play the regular season to get to the playoffs, so I think it would be abnormal if there wasn’t some kind of pressure, but it’s how you handle that pressure and prepare for game one.”
It won’t be as easy as 1-2-3, but the Hawks did finish 1-2-3 in the WHL scoring race, thanks to the line of Ty Rattie, Brendan Leipsic and Nic Petan. The trio combined for more than 350 league points and 143 goals. Leipsic and Petan tied for the scoring lead with 120 points and Rattie was third with 110.
"Yeah, It’s an exciting line,” Rattie told KGW. “I’m lucky enough to play with two skilled players and they make the game so much easier for me, and it’s been a lot of fun."
Petan turned 18 on day one of the playoffs and had 46 goals and 74 assists during the regular season, “It’s just instant chemistry,” he said about the high scoring line. “We know where each other are and we know we can make those passes and we obviously know we can put the puck in the net.”
The fun is just beginning, because the Winterhawks have played 43 playoff games in the past two seasons. They are poised for another long postseason run.
“Everybody wants to win here and everybody feels this is the year," he said. “We’ve been to back-to-back finals and I think this is the year we think we can finally get over the hump and get to the Memorial Cup.”
The Winterhawks take on Everett in a 7-game playoff series to open the postseason. Games one and two are at the Rose Garden on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.