Wotherspoon & Portland reach Memorial Cup final
Ty Rattie led the Western Hockey League in scoring in the playoffs, and he's kept that hot streak going in the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Rattie's goal at 8:32 of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and sent the Portland Winterhawks to a 2-1 win against the London Knights in a Memorial Cup semifinal game Friday at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The Winterhawks will face the Halifax Mooseheads in the championship game Sunday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet). Halifax defeated Portland 7-4 in round-robin play May 18.
The title game will feature the top three players in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft: No. 1, defenceman Seth Jones of Portland, against Nos. 2 and 3, forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of Halifax.
Tyler Wotherspoon also scored for the Winterhawks, and goalie Mac Carruth stopped 34 shots. Jones had an assist and a plus-2 rating; his plus-6 is tied with Wotherspoon for the tournament lead.
"We have one more 60-minute game left for all the marbles," Rattie told the Canadian Hockey League website. "This is what we've wanted right from the start of the season, and now the top two teams in the CHL are going to go head-to-head in the final."
London, playing one night after defeating the host Saskatoon Blades in the tiebreaker game, got a goal from 2013 draft prospect Max Domi, and goalie Jake Patterson made 32 saves.
It's the second straight year London had its season end by a 2-1 score at the Memorial Cup. The Knights lost in overtime to the Shawinigan Cataractes in the 2012 title game.
"It's tough," London captain Scott Harrington told reporters in Saskatoon. "Obviously not the result that we wanted. I thought we had some real good chances and bounces just didn't go our way -- a couple broken sticks on great opportunities to score. To lose 2-1, it's heartbreaking, but that's the way it goes sometimes."
The game was tied 1-1 midway through the third when Rattie, a 2011 second-round pick of the St. Louis Blues, walked the puck off the wall along the left side of the London zone, and from the top inside edge of the left circle fired a shot that beat Patterson over his glove for his tournament-best fifth goal. He has at least one goal in all four of Portland's games, and his eight points are tied with MacKinnon for the most in the tournament.
"He's a big-game player," Carruth said of Rattie. "He does all the little things right and he's always in the right position. He sneaks into little quiet areas and finds a way to score. He's got a great shot."
Rattie (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) is coming off a WHL playoff run that saw him put up league-leading totals of 20 goals and 36 points in 21 games en route to earning the league playoff MVP award.
After a scoreless first period, Domi -- No. 19 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters -- beat Carruth from the slot at 12:43 of the second to open the scoring. With the Knights on the power play, he skated the puck from inside the blue line into the high slot. He fanned on his first attempt, but took another whack at it and beat Carruth for his first goal of the tournament.
Just 2:08 later, Portland answered when Wotherspoon, a Calgary Flames prospect, fired a shot that bounced off the skates of London's Tommy Hughes and past Patterson at 14:51.
After Rattie's go-ahead goal in the third, Carruth helped preserve the lead. He stopped London forward Ryan Rupert on a loose puck in front with just over seven minutes to go, then stopped Blackhawks prospect Alex Broadhurst from in close. Carruth's best save came with 2:06 left, when he denied a backhand attempt from the slot by London's Olli Maatta.
"I thought it was his best game of the tournament, obviously," Portland coach Travis Green said of Carruth. "Just a great performance by the guy who we've leaned on for a long time now, which doesn't surprise us, but he sure came up big for us."
He'll have to come up big one more time for Portland, which will try to win its first Memorial Cup since 1998, when a team that featured current Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa and Boston Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference took home the championship. Halifax never has played in a Memorial Cup final.
'We know we're going to have our hands full, but I also know that with our team that when we play our best we're tough to beat," Green said. "I've got a lot of faith in our guys."
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor