An otherwise lovely Sunday evening ended with a thud in the opponent's end of the ice for Ty Rattie. He was face down. Two Edmonton Oil Kings were jabbing their sticks into the back of his neck, mushing his NHL-drafted grill into the ice, while he waited for the horn to sound ending the game.
It was Portland 4, Edmonton 3. The Winterhawks lead the best-of-seven WHL finals 2-1. And while I know there's Tuesday's Game 4 ahead, it's the chartered plane ride after that game that I'm already thinking about.
Turns out the WHL finals are a big deal. The pucks are brand new. The officials are said to be the best in the league. The Zamboni gets a tune-up. And also, it's the only road trip of the season that the teams utilize an airplane instead of a bus. Except, these are still tight economic times and the teams have agreed to share a single plane.
Sunday featured a pair of fights, two ejections, blood on the ice, and an Edmonton goal late that was being celebrated when Winterhawks captain William Wrenn was jabbed with a stick. Wrenn took exception. We know this because he immediately charged at the huddled, joyful Oil Kings and pile drove their little party into the boards.
The officials missed the whole thing. It so bothered Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal that he refused comment in the postgame news conference about the issue, but then stormed back toward the visiting locker room where he cornered the team video guy and asked him to pull up the exchange on his laptop.
The team huddled around just outside the locker room. The video guy fidgeted. Finally, on the computer screen, there it was -- the goal, the Edmonton celebration, Wrenn turning whipping around toward it all, and then -- nothing.
The Oil Kings camera man cut away.
"Are you (bleeping) kidding me?!?" Laxdal muttered. "Oh my (bleeping) God! What a (bleeping) joke!"
So yeah. These two teams are going to share an airplane on Tuesday night after Game4. The series is either going to be 3-1, Portland or tied, 2-2. And I'm thinking the poor pilots end up innocent bystanders if this series continues to heat up the way it currently is.
The post-game ritual here turned into a brain teaser. You remember that puzzle where a man has to figure out how to get a fox, a chicken and a sack of corn across a river? Well, the WHL people were faced with just that after the game, ushering Edmonton's players into the news conference while directing Portland's players around the back hallway, trying to limit the contact, presumably so nobody gets eaten.
Nobody did, far as we know.
The league has already informed Portland and Edmonton that there will be protocol for the shared plane ride, too. Edmonton will board first and take the back of the plane. Then, the league officials and media will board second and take the middle-plane seats. Then, Portland will board last and sit in the front section of the plane.
Fox. Chicken. Corn. All on one plane.
They took the same ride from Edmonton to Portland after the first two games of the series. Winterhawks media relations director Graham Kendrick reported after that uncomfortable flight: "Not a lot of socializing."
This was before the two teams starting trying to beat each other's brains in.
Heaven help that rig as it flies through the skies toward Edmonton. Let's hope, too, there are bathrooms in both cabins. Also, that the flight attendants have military training. Because Portland's Brad Ross and Edmonton's Joe Peddle, who fought and were ejected for game misconduct on Sunday, will be aboard. As will be Winterhawks defenseman Joe Morrow, who threw his gloves down as the Ross-Peddle fight broke out, shed a helpless official and whipped Edmonton's Keegan Lowe as if they were fighting in the Rose Garden Arena's back alley.
Explained Portland coach Mike Johnston: "The way Lowe came after Joe in Edmonton, I was happy how (Joe) stood up."
Explained Morrow: "I've got a short temper."
Not the ugliest hockey game in history. Not the most bitter rivalry, either. But man, get yourself a ticket for Game 4, and also, can someone with the E! Network get a production crew on that plane? I'd watch that show while waiting for Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Sunday was again the best-kept secret in the city. Despite another playoff sellout, the Winterhawks' front office refuses to open the 300-level and sell more tickets. And why should they? It would ruin the exclusivity and intimacy. On Sunday, there were 10,947 ticket holders who felt like they were in a monogamous relationship with the Winterhawks.
Wish there were seats on that airplane for them all.
Game three was nasty, If game 4 (tonight on shaw) is anything like 3, it could be a nasty ride.
Edited by Oregon Canucky, 08 May 2012 - 08:26 AM.