(Photo: Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

*This was originally posted on May 8, 2022*

The Portland Winterhawks claimed a 1-0 series lead over the Seattle Thunderbirds, and they did it in a decently dramatic fashion.

Leading into this series, fans of both teams (and honestly most of the WHL) knew that this series was going to be the one to watch. The two teams have had a thriving rivalry and both had a competitive regular season. Getting past their respective first-round opponents with relative ease, both the Winterhawks and Thunderbirds knew that a bigger fight was coming in the second round.

Kicking off the scoring 9:28 into the first period, Jared Davidson continued his impressive playoff performance, drawing first blood for the Thunderbirds. Through six games this postseason, Davidson has picked up 12 points, four of which are goals. In each of the three games Davidson has scored in during the playoffs, the Edmonton-born forward has notched the opening goal in each of them. Including the first goal in both the series against the Kelowna Rockets and the Portland Winterhawks.

Davidson had previously told the Area 51 Sports Network:
“I don’t want to go home anytime soon. I like it here too much.”

He’s been proving that in every game. The only game in the first round that Davidson was kept off the score sheet was game four, where the Rockets walked away with a surprise 3-2 overtime victory.

(Photo: Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

Following Davidson’s goal, the Thunderbirds continued to successfully stifle the Winterhawks offense, holding them to just five shots in the first frame. However, the Winterhawks were hungry to prove they could turn the game around in the second period, and 8:44 after the puck dropped on the middle act, none other than Marcus Nguyen found the back of the net to tie the game. Clay Hanus exhibited some stellar play leading to the goal that Nguyen cashed in on.

Six minutes later, James Stefan would give the Winterhawks their first lead of the night on a play started on the stick of Ryder Thompson. It really seemed like Portland was hitting their stride, but with one minute left in the period, Matthew Rempe would strike back for Seattle and both teams would end the second period knotted up with two apiece.

It took 16:21 to break the tie, but Clay Hanus took a shot from the blue line that found the twine to take the lead late in the game, and the Winterhawks refused to let off the gas. While the Thunderbirds continued to put up a fight, with some good looks in the dying minutes of the game, Robbie Fromm-Delorme sealed the deal for Portland, scoring on the empty Thunderbirds net with just 12 seconds remaining.

In net, Taylor Gauthier made 23 stops on 25 shots in the win, while at the other end of the ice, Thomas Milic saved 20-of-23.

Following the team’s first-round sweep of the Prince George Cougars, Winterhawks defenseman Marek Alscher had this to say on what the mood was for the guys in the room.

“Of course, the first mood in the locker room was just a big relief that we made it, and then the second mood was like yeah, now we gotta prepare. We gotta do it again.”

So far, so good, but the Winterhawks still need to win three more if they want to continue to chase the Ed Chynoweth Cup and make a run to the ultimate prize of the Memorial Cup.

The two teams meet up again on Sunday, April 8, back at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum as the series heads to Portland for games two and three. Puck drop for Sunday’s tilt is scheduled for 5:00 PM PDT. You can listen to the game online or through the Winterhawks app. Watch the action on CHL TV.