For a 3rd straight year the Portland Winterhawks and Edmonton Oil Kings will meet for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Each has a title in the last 2 years and have built up a healthy dose of dislike, even hatred for each other.
Portland will likely be the favourite on paper, but outside of Oregon most will be pulling for the Oil Kings as the Winterhawks have made few friends with their rule breaking actions in recent years.
|Oil Kings Captain Griffin Reinhart not going to touch the Eastern Conference Championship trophy|
Not since the original Oil Kings took on the Flin Flon Bombers in the 1969, 1970 and 1971 finals have teams met in back to back to back finals. With coach Patty Ginnell leading the Bombers behind the bench and Bobby Clarke on the ice up against Bill Hunter coaching the Kings and John Rogers policing things for Edmonton you know bad blood would have built up. Just like it has with the current Portland and Edmonton teams.
Players like Mitch Moroz and Henrik Sameulsson can play nasty with the best of them, and you know that Brendan Leipsic and Alex Schoenborn won't back down from any challenge. The key to the series might just be how Moroz and Samuelsson walk that fine line between being physically effective and losing control.
As far as match ups go Portland has the edge when it comes to skill, Edmonton has the size advantage. The Blue lines are pretty even now that Blake Orban has returned to the Oil Kings line up and could form a dandy of a shut down pairing with Griffin Reinhart, while Derrick Pouliot is playing on another planet then the rest of the blueliners. His 26 points in 14 games is 3rd in the league and leads all rear guards by 8.
For my money the key match up is in goal where Edmonton has the clear advantage. While Corbin Boes is playing at a high level, it's only been 4 games. Jarry owns a 1.86 gaa and a .929 save percentage while posting a 12-2 mark. The regular season numbers weren't close meaning Jarry has the historical advantage. Having said that Jarry was below average in the conference clinching game and if Boes matches Jarry save for save then I think Portland wins the series, if he can't then Edmonton prevails.
One final note, if you predicted this match up give yourself a pat on the back. I did during our WHL preview show and have the proof right here. Skip to the end to hear our predictions, and tweet me yours for the final. @duckmillard.