Oh What A Night

In News by Jess Rubenstein

Oh what a night it was as three New York Ranger prospects and their teams punched tickets to play in their respective league finals. All three teams swept their opposition and that was quite trick considering each team was facing one of the better teams in their respective conferences if not league.

In Kent Washington, it took two overtimes, a combined 108 shots before a 16 year old rookie would score his first career playoff goal to give his Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 win over the WHL’s defending champions the Kelowna Rockets. The Thunderbirds swept the Rockets out in four games as they head to their first WHL finals since 1997.

Seattle had to dig themselves out of holes they put themselves in starting with being down 2-0 after the first period. Ryan Gropp (2015 second) would get Seattle on the scoreboard with his third goal of the playoffs just 46 seconds into the second period. Gropp would take a pass from behind the Kelowna net and beat Kelowna’s goalie with a shot that was low on the glove side.

Kelowna though would get that goal back scoring at 4:59 to make it 3-1, a score that stood until Seattle would respond at 15:08 to cut the Rockets lead to 3-2. That score would stand until a questionable call against Seattle resulted in a power play goal restoring the two goal lead late in the third period. It did look bad for Seattle down two goals but they pulled their goalie with two minutes left in regulation.

Seattle would score to draw within one at 18:45 and then would force overtime with just three seconds left in regulation. The first overtime belonged to Seattle as they dominated out shooting Kelowna 21-5 but they could not score. The second overtime was also Seattle’s as they held a 9-1 advantage in shots until Ryan Gropp spotted Matthew Wedman in the neutral zone and the 16 year old rookie took the puck right to the Kelowna net where he scored his first career playoff goal and set off a wild celebration in Kent.

Gropp finished the night with a 1-1-2 as the power forward was 3-2-5 in the series. Now the Thunderbirds sit back and wait to find out who they will face in the WHL finals.

Ryan Mantha (2014 fourth) had the primary assist on his Niagara IceDogs second goal as the IceDogs defeated the Barrie Colts 3-2 to sweep the Colts out and earn the Bobby Orr Trophy as the winners of the OHL’s Eastern Conference. Mantha played a solid game in addition to his assist, he took five shots was a +1 with a “delay of game” minor but in the third period when Barrie was trying everything to tie the game helped keep them from getting that tying goal.

Mantha and his IceDogs are headed to their second trip to the OHL finals where they will face Daniel Benrhardt and his London Knights for the OHL championship.

Daniel Bernhardt (2015 fourth) did not score but his London Knights had little trouble with the Erie Otters knocking them out of the OHL Western Conference finals 5-1 earning the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as champions of the OHL Western Conference. Next up are the IceDogs in a rematch of the 2012 OHL finals.