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Above the Glass

From the Dub: One and Done

I would be totally screwed right now if I gambled on sports. Round one of the WHL playoffs is almost over. Safe bets and sure things are not so certain. The Tri-City Americans swept the Kelowna Rockets out of playoffs on Thursday. The Everett Silvertips eliminated the defending WHL Champions. The Lethbridge Hurricanes have eliminated the Red Deer Rebels. The Portland Winterhawks blew a 3-1 series lead with a Game 5 overtime loss to the Spokane Chiefs. I can only imagine what round two is going to be like. 

Everybody's all Americans: For NHL fans, the Tri-City Americans are probably best known as the junior team where Carey Price got his start. Today, you'll hear names like Michael Rasmussen, Jake Bean and import player Juuso Valimaki. One name that may not be on your radar is Morgan Geekie. A late bloomer, he was drafted last year by the Carolina Hurricanes (third round, 67th overall).  He is an underrated player on an underdog team. The Americans swept the Kelowna Rockets out of the first round of playoffs. Geekie had a hat trick in a 5-3 win that eliminated the B.C. Division Champions. The Ams were the first team to reach the second round and Geekie is a big reason why. Other names to watch are Nolan Yaremko, Jordan Topping and goalie Patrick Dea.

All aboard: The Lethbridge Hurricanes were quite literally a train wreck in the 2013 - 2014 season. Players and executive leaders were leaving or being fired amid notorious on and off-ice troubles. It reached a crescendo when WHL Commissioner Ron Robison encouraged the team to sell. Former Hurricane and Lethbridge native Kris Versteeg even expressed interest in buying the team at one point. But shareholders of the community-owned team fought back and retained ownership. Huge changes were made on every level of the organization. It took a few seasons to get their house back in order, but today the Hurricanes are a force to be reckoned with.The Hurricanes finished second in the Central Division with a record of 33-33-6-0 and 72 points. The "Cane Train" has kept on rolling into playoffs, where they just eliminated the Red Deer Rebels. Lethbridge won the series 4-1. They will play the Brandon Wheat Kings in the second round.

Thunderstruck: The Everett Silvertips have dominated the U.S. Division all season. The Seattle Thunderbirds are the defending WHL Champions, but they qualified for playoffs as a wild card. I had pictured highlight reel goals, record-breaking penalties and a Game 7 fight to the death.  It was not to be. The Silvertips took the series 4-1. Carter Hart recorded a 4-0 shutout in Game 5. The goals were scored by Riley Sutter, Ondrej Vala, Patrick Bajkov and Connor Dewar. There's not much to say about this one. The Silvertips owned the whole season and they owned the Thunderbirds in this series.They will play the winner of the series between the Portland Winterhawks and the Spokane Chiefs.

Hail to the Chiefs: Proper credit must be given where it's due to the Spokane Chiefs. Heading into Game 5 on Saturday, the Portland Winterhawks led this series 3-1. Dennis Cholowski had put the Hawks up 4-3 in the third. The Hawks held on until 18:43, when Spokane pulled goalie Dawson Weatherill. Forward Skyler McKenzie lost a race to the puck for a possible empty netter. Just like that, the Chiefs changed the game. Defenseman Nolan Reid scored with 30 seconds remaining in regulation, forcing overtime. Spokane forced Game 6 with a 5-4 overtime win. The series moves back to Spokane on Monday, where the Hawks have a second chance to close it out. I have a feeling this one is going to Game 7 on Tuesday. Either that, or it's going to be another overtime barn burner in favor of the Winterhawks on Monday night. Stay tuned.  

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Comments

OlderThanChelios's avatar

For Wings’ fans, it’s nice to see Rasmussen rack up 5 goals and 7 assists and a +4 in just four games. But secretly I’m hoping Tri-City gets bounced in the next round so he can get into at leasat a few games with the Griffins in the playoffs.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/02/18 at 02:22 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Will Carter Hart be the guy to end all of the Flyers’ goalie woes?

Posted by ilovehomers on 04/02/18 at 02:27 PM ET

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I am secretly thrilled with the Tri-City Americans’ resurgence in the latter half of the season and playoffs. If they do get eliminated, I know you’ll enjoy watching Rasmussen in action. He may be our opponent here in Portland, but it’s a privilege to watch him play. As for Hart, he’s the Superman of goaltending. So, yes, he very well could be the guy to end the Flyers’ goalie woes.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 04/02/18 at 02:33 PM ET

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Cholowski looked great on Saturday.
On the ice in all key situations for Portland.
Great vision and outlet pass.
Shades of Seth Jones.

I don’t expect him back in Portland next year.

Posted by Ventr on 04/02/18 at 03:15 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Thanks for the update, Samantha!  I haven’t been able to catch a game during these playoffs so it’s cool to hear about what’s going on.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 04/02/18 at 04:36 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Samantha, are you able to watch these games on TV, streams, etc?

Posted by ilovehomers on 04/02/18 at 05:01 PM ET

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For those of you that can’t get to games or would like to watch the road games, you can do so on whl.ca: URL is https://whl.neulion.com/whl/  They. are covering all playoff games in the Dub. You have to create an account and then you can purchase individual games to view live or on replay.

As for Dennis, you’re quite right. The general consensus is that he’ll move on after this season. It’s been a pleasure getting to know him this year. Off the ice he’s just a really nice, friendly, professional player who is always well-spoken and smart.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 04/02/18 at 05:33 PM ET

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Ams fan here. Rasmussen is ready for the NHL, if there is room for him. Faceoffs are his only weakness, so I see him on the wing for awhile.
Geekie has been my favorite Am for two years. Plays in all situations, is very dynamic. Has a quick hard shot, and is a maestro on the PP.
I would be surprised if Bean and Valimaaki aren’t on the Canes/ Flames rosters next year.
There is a ridiculous amount of talent on the ice when Portland and the Ams face each other. (7 first rounders, and lots of lower picks)

Posted by pnwwing on 04/02/18 at 09:55 PM ET

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com