For the fourth straight year, the Portland Winterhawks will play in the Western Conference Final.
The Winterhawks have advanced to the conference final after a 5-1 win over the Victoria Royals in Game 5 of their second round series Thursday in front of 8,083 fans at the Moda Center.
The win sets up a conference final against the Kelowna Rockets, who were the only team to finish ahead of the Winterhawks in the regular season standings, with 118 points to Portland’s 113. The schedule for that series will be announced at a later date.
The Hawks opened the scoring with a power play goal at the 13:46 mark of the first when Taylor Leier picked up a loose puck in the crease and put it in for the 1-0 lead. They extended the lead with less than a minute to go in the frame when Adam de Champlain banked the puck in off the back of Victoria netminder Patrik Polivka from behind the goal line to give the Hawks a 2-0 advantage going into the second.
The Hawks made it 3-0 at the 10:31 mark of the second when Oliver Bjorkstrand snuck down into the slot and fired a shot past Polivka for his ninth goal of the playoffs. The Royals got on the board at the 15:11 mark of the period on a power play goal from Steven Hodges to cut Portland’s lead to 3-1 heading into the third.
From there Portland snuffed out any chance of a comeback attempt by the Royals, and extended the lead to 4-1 at the 12:22 mark on a goal by Chase De Leo, which went in off the skate of a Victoria defenseman. De Leo added another late in the third as the Hawks finished with a 5-1 win and a trip to the conference final.
Bjorkstrand finished with four points in the win, while De Leo, Leier and Derrick Pouliot each had two.
Brendan Burke earned the win with 31 saves on 32 shots. Polivka took the loss with five goals allowed on 40 shots.