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Portland advances to WHL final for 2nd straight year with 4-1 win over Tri-City - on Astini News

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Winterhawks swept their way into the Western Hockey League final thanks to a huge third period.

The Winterhawks exploded with four unanswered goals over the final 20 minutes to down the Tri-City Americans 4-1 and advance to the WHL final for the second straight season.

Second-seeded Portland won the best-of-seven series 4-0 over the Americans, the top seed in the Western Conference.

The Winterhawks will face the winner of the Eastern Conference final between Edmonton and Moose Jaw, which the Oil Kings currently lead 3-1. Portland lost to the Kootenay Ice in the WHL final last season.

Despite the series between Portland and Tri-City ending in a sweep, all four games were tied well into the third period and the first two went to overtime.

"What a battle tonight," said Portland head coach Mike Johnston. "It was such a tight, tough series. I give Tri-City a lot of credit, we had our hands full."

Tri-City led 1-0 after two periods, with Americans goaltender Ty Rimmer stopping all 40 shots he faced.

"Rimmer is one of the best goalies in the league, and he showed it tonight," Johnston said.

Cam Reid and Marcel Noebels broke the ice for Portland, scoring 1:06 apart in the third to get the rally started for Portland.

Reid walked in off the right wing boards and beat Rimmer over the blocker to tie the game at the 6:42 mark of the third on Portland's 46th shot of the game.

Noebels gave Portland the lead at the 7:48 mark on a feed from Ty Rattie. Noebels took the puck to his backhand side and lifted it over Rimmer's glove for his third of the series and fifth of the playoffs.

Reid and Noebels were each acquired by the Winterhawks at the WHL's trade deadline, with Portland surrendering three high draft picks to obtain the duo.

"Sometimes you have to make a move and overpay with draft picks," Johnston said. "But you can see right now that they can make the difference."

Reid, who left St. Cloud State during the NCAA season to join the Winterhawks, stated he's "never won anything like this in my life."

"The reason I came here was for this playoff run, and it's an unbelievable feeling right now," Reid said.

Sven Bartschi stole the puck from Tri-City's Zachary Yuen and beat Rimmer to make it 3-1 with 3:03 to play, then Brad Ross scored on a breakaway 26 seconds later to seal the victory.

As he did in a 3-1 Game 3 defeat, Tri-City's Adam Hughesman opened the scoring with a rebound goal on the power play. Brendan Shinnimin's wrist shot from the point caught Portland goalie Mac Carruth in the mask, and Hughesman pounced on the rebound to give the Americans a 1-0 lead late in the first period.

With Rimmer making 57 saves in the game, Carruth was a somewhat forgotten man on the other end of the ice. But for the second straight night, he held the Americans to one goal and stopped four breakaways that could've put Portland in a two-goal hole.

Carruth made 39 saves Thursday, and stopped 77 of 79 shots in Games 3 and 4.

"I don't think we could've done much more," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "Carruth was terrific, and their big guys scored big goals."

The Americans won their fourth division title in five years this season, but failed in a quest to reach the league final for the second time in three years. Tri-City has never won the WHL title.

"I thought we went toe-to-toe with (Portland)," Hiller said. "When they needed big goals they got big goals. They got great goaltending.

There's not much more than that."

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