PORTLAND -- The Winterhawks topped the Tri-City Americans 4-1 Thursday to win the WHL's Western Conference title for the second straight year.
They took the series four games to none before nearly 11,000 fans at the Rose Garden.
"Winning a conference Championship in back-to back-years, that's hard to do," said Winterhawks Coach Mike Johnston after the game. "Now, we have the big step ahead of us that we missed last year."
Just like the first three games in the series, this one was tight.
The Hawks had 40 shots in the first two periods but trailed 1-0. They finally tied the game on Cam Reid's goal at the 6:42 mark. Less than a minute later, Marcel Noebels found the net and the Hawks had the lead, the momentum and the fans going crazy.
"The third period was amazing," said Noebels after the game adding, "after the first goal, the crowd was into it and have so much energy for us. We showed character in the third and turned it around."
Sven Bartschi and Brad Ross added back to back goals less than 30 seconds apart late in the game to clinch it 4-1.
"It was great," says Bartschi, "with the people here too, great fans and everything. It was such an exciting game tonight."
There is more to come, because the Hawks will now take on either Edmonton or Moose Jaw for the WHL Championship.
Edmonton leads that series 3-1.
"Unbelievable," says Hawks Forward Ty Rattie, talking about winning the West. "It's an unreal feeling and stay tuned because we're not done yet."