Keegan Iverson’s Winterhawks Advance
After Sunday, five New York Ranger prospects are advancing to his league’s next playoff round. That is not a bad number considering there were 11 active prospects playing in North America and only one did not get to play in any kind of post-season playoff.
Keegan Iverson (2014 third) and his Portland Winterhawks became the latest to advance after they defeated the Everett Silvertips 3-2 to win their series 4-1. The Winterhawks advance to the WHL Western Conference finals where they will meet the Kelowna Rockets but more on that in a bit.
Iverson had two assists in this game one official and one that he did not get credit for but it was a key play that started what proved to be the series winning goal. Iverson was playing on Portland’s top line with Nicolas Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand for most of the game in a role that can be described as part Adam Graves, part Sean Avery and part Dom Moore.
Iverson does not have the heavy numbers that his linemates do (Petan was 1-2-3 and Bjorkstrand was 2-0-2) but he was the guy fighting in the slot opening space for his teammates, and my favorite play which was blocking a shot and moving the puck up ice to get a rush going which led to the series winning goal.
Iverson’s official assist was a secondary assist on Portland’s second goal, the goal that put them ahead to stay in this game. It was Iverson’s fifth assist of the playoffs and his seventh overall point.
Portland is looking for their fifth conference championship in five years and Iverson is looking for his third straight. Iverson has done everything the Winterhawks have asked of him to help them win and then some. He is just as key a player as anyone else on the roster and his playoff experience is going to loom large if the Winterhawks are to defeat Kelowna and advance to the WHL finals.
Kelowna is the one seed and has quite a loaded lineup so most will expect that Kelowna will be favored to win this series. I will pick Portland to win in large part that they have a lineup that has been in this position before so they know what is needed to do in order to win.
Nobody expected Portland to get this far but the transition from Mike Johnston to Jamie Kompon has been better than anyone could hope for. This is Kompon’s team now no question about it but the core was built by Mike Johnston and they have been in these situations before and have found ways to win.
That is Mike Johnston as in current Penguin’s head coach and the main reason to mention him is to hopefully talk some of the Ranger fans who are on the ledge after the loss in game two. You guys were not seriously expecting to take Pittsburgh out in four games were you?
Johnston and the Penguins are going to give the Rangers a fight in this playoff series and if the Rangers are serious about winning a Stanley Cup then they hopefully got the wake-up call from the game two loss. We will find out soon enough how badly the Rangers want to win the Cup.
In the meantime, the prospects are off until Thursday/Friday before they begin their next playoff round.