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WHL Playoffs: Portland Winterhawks down two games, but look to rebound

The Portland Winterhawks started the playoffs with an optimistic attitude, considering analysts and fans were giving Portland a fighting chance to win the series against the Everett Silvertips. However; Everett had different ideas. Without their starting goaltender Carter Hart, they had to look to their back up Mario Petit to help them get wins against a resilient Winterhawk side.

Winterhawks
Winterhawks
Jimmy Budinski

The Portland Winterhawks started the playoffs with an optimistic attitude, considering analysts and fans were giving Portland a fighting chance to win the series against the Everett Silvertips.  However; Everett had different ideas. Without their starting goaltender Carter Hart, they had to look to their back up Mario Petit to help them get wins against a resilient Winterhawk side.

GAME 1: Portland Winterhawks 0, Everett Silvertips 3

Everett received more than they could imagine as Petit posted a shutout in game one, turning aside all 29 shots he faced. The shutout did not come without challenges though as Portland was given five power play opportunities to get on the scoreboard. Petit stood his ground as he was stellar in net, along with the Silvertip defense corpse who made life difficult for the Winterhawk attackers. Everett, as they have done most of the year, establishes a lead and then relies on their defense and goaltender to hold the advantage for the remainder of the game. Everett did not score until the 14:52 mark of the second period, but it would prove to be the game winner as Brandon Ralph netted the first goal of the young playoff year.  Everett would score two more with both goals coming from Everett veteran Dawson Leedahl, scoring one goal at the 18:13 mark of the second period and then again at 4:49 of the third period. Portland was never really given a chance to cut into the lead as Everett shut down the team with great goaltending from Petit. Everett would take game one by winning 3-0.

GAME 2: Portland Winterhawks 1, Everett Silvertips 3

In game two, Portland came out with a little more fire and "pep in their step" as they received a special team's chance just over two minutes in the game. Portland would capitalize on the man advantage by scoring a goal from Rihards Bukarts to take the early 1-0 lead in the first period. Unfortunately for the excited Winterhawk side, Brandon Ralph would end their first lead of the series with his second goal in two games just 2:18 later. Everett would gain the lead and never looked back as they received a goal from Matt Fonteyne at the 12:40 mark of the first period. The Silvertips would add another goal when Remi Laurencelle snuck a shot past Portland Goaltender Adin hill to extend the lead to 3-1.  The game would end with that score as once again, the Everett defense shut down the Portland offense and not allowing the Hawks to gain any chances for a comeback.  Everett would take a two game to none lead over the Portland Winterhawks.

What is the most amazing stat in these past two games are the shots on goals. In game one, Everett unleashed 51 shots on goal at the Winterhawk net minder Adin Hill.  Although Hill stopped 48 of those 51 shots, it shows what type of game Everett came to play to start the playoffs. Shoot as much as you can and see what you can get. Portland fired 29 shots in game one, but they were hard to come by. Only getting five shots on goal in the second period shows how tough it was for the Winterhawks to get any scoring opportunities to test the less experienced goaltender Mario Petit. In game two, Everett managed only 37 shots on goal, but they were hard and often, especially in the second period. The Silvertips stronghold when it comes to the defensive side is frustrating the Winterhawk team so much that holes and scoring chances open up on the offensive side. It is not common to get 16 shots on goal in one period, but Everett is able to accomplish this three different times thus far in the first two games. They have double digit shot totals in all but one period (third period of game two getting only 9) with the highest total being 22 shots on goal in period two of game one.

If Portland is to come back in this series, they must not allow Everett to get high total of shots on their goaltender.  Scoring is a must of course and the Winterhawks have only scored one goal in 120 minutes so far in this playoff year. So eliminating the shots to not tire Adin Hill in net, and getting more shot production and scoring chances on the other end, will get the young Winterhawk squad back into this series and possibly a chance to move on to the second round.

Next Games:

Game 3: 03/29-Everett @ Portland-7:00PM Moda Center

Game 4: 03/30-Everett @ Portland-7:00PM Moda Center

Game 5: 04/01-Portland @ Everett-7:35PM Xfinity Center (If Necessary)

Game 6: 04/02-Everett @ Portland-6:00PM Veterans Memorial Coliseum (if Necessary)

Game 7:04/04-Portland @ Everett-7:05PM Xfinity Center (IF Necessary)