PORTLAND -- The Portland Winterhawks are going back to the WHL Championship series.
The Winterhawks won their third straight Western Conference championship with a 4-1 Game 5 victory Friday over the Kamloops Blazers at the Rose Garden in front of 9,742 fans.
The Hawks advance to the WHL championship series, and await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between the Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings, with Edmonton holding a 3-2 series lead. The championship series will begin next Friday, May 3 at the Rose Garden at 7 p.m., followed by Game 2 on Saturday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at the Garden.
The Hawks are the first team to win three straight conference titles since the Red Deer Rebels did it from 2001-03.
Ty Rattie was named series MVP after he posted four goals and eight assists for 12 points in the five-game series.
Portland got on the board first 7:53 into the first with a power play marker when Seth Jones fired a blast from the point through traffic that beat Kamloops netminder Cole Cheveldave to make it 1-0. It remained that way until there were just 36.2 seconds left in the period, when the Blazers’ JC Lipon scored from the side of the net to make it 1-1 going into the second.
Portland regained the lead 4:23 into the second when Oliver Bjorkstrand fed Taylor Leier on a 2-on-1, who beat Cheveldave to make it 2-1 for the lone goal of the period.
Midway through the third with the Hawks killing a penalty, Rattie picked off a Kamloops pass and went in alone on a shorthanded breakaway, beating Cheveldave to make it 3-1. Nic Petan added a power play goal at the 13:58 mark to give Portland the 4-1 win.
Mac Carruth was terrific in net for the Hawks, stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced. Cheveldave finished with 37 saves on 41 Portland shots.
The Hawks were 2-5 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill, with the shorthanded goal.