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WHL Conference Finals get underway Friday Night - Junior Hockey News
Published: Friday, 20 Apr 2012
By: Spencer Walsh
The Portland Winterhawks will attempt to repeat as the 2012 Kal Tire Western Conference Champion when they head to Kennewick to face off against the Tri-City Americans. The first two games will be played in Kennewick on Friday April 20th and Sat. Apr. 21st.
Both Portland and Tri-City were pushed to the limit in the second round. The Winterhawks defeated Kamloops in an entertaining seven-game series. Portland swept Kelowna in the first round. The Americans edged Spokane in a highly competitive seven-game tilt after sweeping aside Everett in the first round.
These two US Division rivals met ten times in the regular season. All of the games were decided in regulation with Tri-City winning six games. This is the first post-season meeting for the Hawks and Ams since the 2004 WHL playoffs. Tri-City eliminated Portland four games to one in a first-round matchup.
This series will showcase Tri-City's solid defense against Portland's potent offense. The Americans have only allowed 23 goals in 11 post-season contests. Portland scored 28 goals in their seven-game series triumph against Kamloops. Something will have to give here. If Tri-City goaltender Ty Rimmer is able to maintain his strong form in goal, then the Americans have a good chance to advance. Rimmer has posted a 1.98 GAA and a .922 save% so far this WHL post-season. Portland will rely on goalie Mac Carruth to thwart the Americans offensive attack. Carruth came up huge and shutout Kamloops in Game 7 to boost his Portland teammates to victory.
This figures to be a long and hard-fought series. I am not going to predict a series winner, however, I would be very surprised if this series didnt require at least a Game 6. We shall see.
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