Courtesy of the Winterhawks
For the first time in a decade, the Portland Winterhawks are going to the WHL Finals after winning Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals by a score of 6-3 to punch their ticket to the championship series.
Ryan Johansen was named the series MVP, with five goals and three assists for eight points in the six games.
The Hawks will take on the Kootenay Ice in the WHL Finals, Portland’s first trip to the WHL Finals since the 2000-01 season.
The series starts this weekend in Portland, with Game 1 Friday at the Rose Garden at 7:30 p.m., and Game 2 Saturday at the Rose Garden at 7 p.m.
Tickets for those games go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. at ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations, the Rose Quarter box office and the Winterhawks’ ticket office at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Chiefs opened the scoring with two goals in the first 3:32 of the game when Marek Kalus and Mike Aviani gave Spokane an early 2-0 lead. But the Winterhawks struck back when Sven Bartschi scored at the 8:17 mark to get on the board and cut Spokane’s lead to 2-1.
Later in the period the Winterhawks thought they’d evened the game on a goal by Ty Rattie, until a video review where officials determined he kicked the puck in the net, keeping the score 2-1 in favor of Spokane.
But the Winterhawks wouldn’t need a video review on their next goal, when Ryan Johansen scored at the 9:38 mark of the second to even the game at 2-2. The Winterhawks then struck again just one minute later when Craig Cunningham made a highlight reel spin move and fired it past Spokane netminder James Reid to take a 3-2 lead.
However, with just 16 seconds left in the period, Spokane’s Levko Koper scored to even the game at 3-3 going into the third period.
But that would be Spokane’s last goal, as the Hawks scored three straight in the third period to close out the game and extinguish any hopes Spokane had of forcing a Game 7.
Portland regained the lead 5:22 into the third when defenseman Troy Rutkowski fired a wrist shot past Reid to make it 4-3.
The Hawks extended their lead later in the period when Rattie fired a blast past Reid for his second of the night, giving Portland a 5-3 lead, and minutes later Nino Niederreiter iced the game to give the Hawks a 6-3 lead that would stand as the final.