CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4/9

Results from Sarnia, Lethbridge, and Seattle.

OHL WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Game 4: (1) Kitchener Rangers 6 @ (6) Sarnia Sting 2
Kitchener wins Best of 7 series 4-0

Steven Stamkos*, SAR:
Game: 0-0-0, -1, 4 PIM (cross-checking, goaltender interference)
Series: 4 GP, 2-0-2, -2, 10 PIM
Playoffs: 9 GP, 11-0-11, E, 20 PIM
Season: 61 GP, 58-47-105, +18, 88 PIM

The Rangers, who are now 8-0 in the playoffs, again denied Stamkos any kind of time or space with which to work and held the star forward scoreless for the third time in the series. That’s not to say Stamkos didn’t fight back, however. After the game was decided in the third period, Stamkos, while killing a 7 minute, highly-disputed Rangers power play that was awarded after a teammate came to Stamkos’ aid when he was hit with a flying elbow and knocked to the ice, sent a message of his own by knocking Rangers goalie Josh Unice to the ice chasing a loose puck. He then got in a scrum, but showed with his physical play and unwillingness to back down that he’s not purely a skill forward. In that realm, he drew comparisons to the Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier by the Sarnia play-by-play announcers.

Stamkos ended his junior career by receiving a standing ovation from the Sarnia crowd when he took the ice for his last shift with under 30 seconds left in the game. Stamkos repaid the crowd by picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone, darting between two defenders, cutting into the middle of the ice and while he was being knocked down – taking a stick to the head in the process – he got off a dangerous wrist shot as he was hitting the ice. Unice made a great save on the shot, but the effort drew more applause. Stamkos received a cut above the eye for the effort, however.

What’s Next for Stamkos: The next time we see Stamkos he will likely be pulling a Lightning sweater over his head at the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa in June. At this time it’s speculated he’ll spend next season in the NHL.

*Stamkos, though not Tampa Bay Lightning property, is the consensus No.1 pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Lightning holds the top pick.

WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Game 4: (3) Lethbridge Hurricanes 2 @ (5) Kootenay Ice 1 (2OT)
Lethbridge leads Best of 7 series 3-1

C Mitch Fadden, LET:
Game: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Series: 4 GP, 2-1-3, +1, 9 PIM
Playoffs: 10 GP, 4-7-11, -1, 13 PIM (plus 10 min misconduct)

After outshooting Kootenay 15-5 in the first overtime, the Hurricanes scored on their second shot of the second to gain a 3-1 lead in the series. The Game 4 winner was scored by second-year WHLer Dan Iwanski (1990). The 'Canes played without likely 2008 first rounder Zach Boychuk, who was out with an "upper body injury," though some in the press are speculating it's a concussion.

Game 5 is Friday night in Lethbridge where the Hurricanes can close out the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Game 4: (1) Tri-City Americans 3 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 2 (OT)
Tri-City leads Best of 7 series 3-1

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Did not play
Playoffs: 9 GP, 4-4-1, 2.70 GAA, .911 sv%

The top-seeded Americans are just one win away from the Western Conference Finals after scoring on their first shot of overtime to defeat the Thunderbirds 3-2 Wednesday. The game winner was scored at the 45-second mark by former Traverse City Lightning Colton Yellow Horn, his 6th of the playoffs. Riku Helenius, after stopping 42 shots Tuesday night, watched as Jacob DeSerres stopped 37 of 40 shots and earned the game’s Second Star in the loss.

Seattle again played without L.A. Kings’ first rounder Thomas Hickey, who took a knee to the head in the second period of Game 1. The day after the hit the Seattle papers said Hickey was cleared to return in the third period of Game 1, but he hasn’t seen the ice since.

Game 5 is Friday in Kennewick.