Saturday, May 5, 2012

Stepping up

Only one game on the schedule for Friday night as Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings hosted the Portland Winterhawks in game two of the WHL Finals. Portland was going into this game missing their leading scorer Ty Rattie who was out after falling hard into the boards on Thursday night.

Add in that Edmonton had won 23 of their last 24 games as well as not losing on home ice since February and Portland was supposed to be in trouble right?

Our favorite Ryan Callahan clone Brendan Leipsic stepped up his game once again.  This time Leipsic scored two goals, including what proved to be the game-winning goal as Portland stunned Edmonton 5-1 to even the series at 1-1.

Stunned is the right word for it as Portland's Brad Ross taking advantage of a Edmonton mistake found Leipsic coming into the offensive zone. Leipsic deked Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoitat out of position then backhanded the puck into the net for a 1-0 Portland lead just 2:37 into the game.

It would be a lead that Portland never gave up as they ending the first period with the 1-0 lead. In the second, it was Leipsic again, this time intercepting a poorly made pass by Edmonton's Ashton Sautner and once again beating Brossoitat with another backhand to make it 2-0 for Portland.

The goals were Leipsic's fifth and sixth of the playoffs as Portland would eventually add two more goals to lead after two periods 4-0. Edmonton tried to get back into the game in the third but Portland held Edmonton off for the 5-1 win.

For the first time in this year's WHL Playoffs, Edmonton is finding itself tied after two games and having to go on the road having lost their home ice advantage. Edmonton did not play in Portland this season so this really will be there first test having to deal with adversity.

Portland did a very good job keeping Michael St. Croix and his linemates in check as they became non-factors as the game wore on. If Edmonton hopes of winning the series St. Croix and his linemates are going to need to find a way to become factors.

Game three Sunday night in Portland, starting at 6 PM local time.  And if you subscribe to the regional sports package on satellite you can see this game in the US on ROOT Sports Northwest.


We normally don't play the rumor game but over the last couple of years have learned to trust the words from the guys over at "Coming Down the Pipe." They had it interesting tidbit regarding Edmonton's coach Derek Laxdal.

"Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal has also been mentioned for that position, but TPS was tipped off tonight that Laxdal has good connections with New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano and could easily step in as as assistant on Long Island."

Having watched the job that Laxdal did this year with the Oil Kings, he would make an excellent addition to the New York Islander coaching staff. Laxdal is an excellent teacher and would greatly help the younger Islander players as they develop.

Saturday will be game two of the OHL Finals between Ryan Strome and Mitchell Theoret's Niagara IceDogs and the London Knights.  The two New York Islander prospects will be looking to take a 2-0 series lead.

Saturday will also be the opening of the "RBC Cup" featuring New York Ranger prospect Steven Fogarty and his Penticton Vees. It is a very interesting competition featuring teams representing four areas of Canada and the host team as they vie for the Canadian Junior A championship.

if you find yourself wanting to see more hockey all the games will be shown for free online with the details that can be found right here.

(Leipsic- Portland Winterhawks)

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