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Helenius, Riku

Helenius Stops 42 shots in Thunderbirds' Loss

WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

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

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Loss, 42 saves on 45 shots
Playoffs: 9 GP, 4-4-1, 2.70 GAA, .911 sv%

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4/5

Game 2 summaries for Lethbridge and Seattle.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4/4

WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Game 1: (5) Kootenay Ice 3 @ (3) Lethbridge Hurricanes 2
Kootenay leads Best of 7 series 1-0

C Mitch Fadden, LET:
Game: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Playoffs: 7 GP, 2-6-8, -3, 4 PIM (plus a 10 min misconduct)

After winning 5 of 6 regular season games from Lethbridge, Kootenay took Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semi-finals series by turning a 2-0 third period deficit into a 3-2 win. Ben Maxwell (undrafted) scored his fifth of the playoffs to win the game for the Ice at the 13 minute mark of the third period. Game 2 is Saturday night in Lethbridge.

WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Game 1: (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 7 @ (1) Tri-City Americans 1
Seattle leads Best of 7 series 1-0

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Win, 29 saves on 30 shots
Playoffs: 7 GP, 4-2-1, 2.41 GAA, .913 sv%

The T-Birds chased All-WHL goalie Chet Pickard when they jumped out to a 6-1 lead less than 3 minutes into the third period then added one more for good measure on their way to a 7-1 win. Pickard led the WHL with a 46-12-2-2 record this year and is expected to be one of the first goalies taken at this summer’s draft. Colton Yellow Horn and Jason Reese had a short-handed breakaway for Tri-City with 30 seconds left in the first, but couldn't get the puck past Helenius. A goal there would have cut Seattle's lead to 2-1. Seattle got a hat trick from Ian MacKenzie (undrafted) to help them steal home-ice advantage from the Americans, who hadn’t played in 9 days after sweeping Kamloops. No.1 Tri-City was 5-4 against Seattle this year with both teams earning an overtime win. Game 2 is Saturday night in Kennewick, Washington.

Helenius, T-Birds move on to WHL Semi Finals

In a very exciting game seven of the Thunderbirds' first round of playoffs, Riku Helenius was named the game's number one star stopping 31 of 33 shots before 3,077 fans at Key Arena to lead Seattle to a 4-2 win.

This was a game where special teams and the goaltending of Riku Helenius was the difference between the closely matched teams of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets went 0 for 8 on the powerplay, including a minute and 44 second 5 on 3 and a four minute high sticking call. The birds also netted a short handed goal in this contest. Riku was very good when he had to be and Torrie Jung did not play for the Rockets. The Thunderbirds will now take on the Tri City Americans beginning Friday night.

Game 7: (5) Kelowna Rockets 2 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 4
Seattle wins Best of 7 series 4-3

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play
Series: 1 GP, 0-0, 3.82 GAA, .850 sv%

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Win, 31 saves on 33 shots, *First Star*
Series: 6 GP, 3-3, 2.65 GAA, .903 sv%

What’s Next for Jung: Torrie Jung had an up-and-down year that was “highlighted” by a constant fight for playing time. Just when Jung seemed to secure the No.1 goaltender spot from overager Kristofer Westblom, it seemed like he’d endure some bad luck and/or a losing streak. Barring unforeseen circumstances, a No.1 fight won’t be happening next year in Kelowna. Jung has put in his time for two years and next year the Rocket’s playoff hopes will be clearly on his shoulders. It will be interesting to see how Jung prepares for this new role this summer through offseason workouts and pre-season preparation. How he performs as a No.1 next year will determine his professional future. The Rockets were the second youngest team in the WHL this year and will return the league’s runner up for top scorer and Californian, Colin Long (100 points), as well as likely top-5 pick, defenseman Luke Schenn, who was reportedly impressive in the Seattle series. They will be one of the preseason league favorites and how Jung plays will go a long way to determining their 2008-2009 success.

*Chad contributed to this report. (And thanks to BP Guest Writer Ffan23 for the first-hand game report.)

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/29

WHL FIRST ROUND - WESTERN CONFERENCE

Game 6: (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 3 @ (5) Kelowna Rockets 4 (OT)
Best of 7 series tied 3-3

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play
Series: 1 GP, 0-0, 3.82 GAA, .850 sv%

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Loss, 28 saves on 32 shots in 72 minutes
Series: 5 GP, 2-3, 2.69 GAA, .894 sv%

Kristofer Westblom was back in the Kelowna nets and the Rockets survived a late game-tying power play goal by Seattle and won the game in the first overtime to push the series to a deciding game. Lucas Bloodoff scored the winner in crease traffic when he backhanded a rebound of his own shot past Helenius. Game 7 will be Tuesday night in Seattle.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/27

WHL FIRST ROUND -- WESTERN CONFERENCE

Game 5: (5) Kelowna Rockets 2 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 6
Seattle leads Best of 7 series 3-2

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: No decision, 17 saves on 20 shots in relief
Series: 1 GP, 0-0, 3.82 GAA, .850 sv%

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Win, 25 saves on 27 shots
Series: 4 GP, 2-2, 3.01 GAA, .900 sv%

Helenius reclaimed the No.1 spot for Seattle and though he gave up a goal 22 seconds into the game on the Rockets' first shot, he shut down Kelowna the rest of the way to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead in the series. As for Jung, he came into the game mid-way through the first period after Kristofer Westblom, who had a shaky Game 4, gave up 3 goals on 8 shots. Jung may be the favorite to start Game 6 for the Rockets Saturday night in Kelowna. Seattle has won 3 in a row in the series.

The game ended on an ugly note when Kelowna’s James McEwan, a former T-Bird, blatantly tackled Helenius after the final horn resulting in both teams getting involved in a shoving match.

According to the Seattle Times, Helenius, who was uninjured, tried to laugh it off.

"Their guys were chirping at me all series," Helenius told the newspaper. "So it was a little surprising, but I don't care that much."

Kelowna’s coach, Ryan Huska, responded to he incident by praising McEwan’s fiery nature: “That’s why he’s our leader.”

Ah, the WHL.

Just in case the McEwan tackle wasn’t dirty enough, Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier reports seeing this sign in the stands in Seattle regarding one of Kelowna’s defensemen:

Colin Joe illegally downloads.

Now that's just cold.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/25

Results posted for Lewiston, Lethbridge (another star for Fadden), and Kelowna/Seattle (Helenius back in net).

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/24

WHL First Round -- WESTERN CONFERENCE

Game 3: (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 3 @ (5) Kelowna Rockets 2 (OT)
Kelowna leads Best of 7 series 2-1

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play
Series: 0 GP

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Did not play
Series: 2 GP, 0-2, 3.09 GAA, .885 sv%

Seattle got back into the series when David Richard scored on the T-Birds’ 14th shot of overtime to narrow Kelowna’s series lead to 2 games to 1. Seattle made a change in net that could be permanent as Jacob DeSerres stopped 30 shots for the win. Kristofer Westblom stopped 37 for Kelowna while both Lightning drafted goaltenders watched from the bench.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/22

QMJHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN DIVISION

Game 2: (5) Lewiston MAINEiacs 0 @ (4) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 3
Cape Breton leads Best of 7 series 2-0

D Michael Ward, LEW:
Game: 0-0-0, 4 PIM
Series: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 4 PIM (was suspended for Game 1)

Cape Breton has won 4 straight over Lewiston in the past week, including regular season games. Game 3 of the series is Tuesday in Lewiston.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN CONFERENCE

Game 2: (6) Brandon Wheat Kings 3 @ (3) Lethbridge Hurricanes 4
Lethbridge leads Best of 7 series 2-0

C Mitch Fadden, LET:
Game: 0-2-2, -1, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Series: 2 GP, 0-4-4, -1, 0 PIM

Brandon scored early in the third to make it a 4-3 game but couldn’t come all the way back. Both of Fadden’s assists came on the power play. He’s been 2nd Star in both games so far. Game 3 is Tuesday in Brandon.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- WESTERN CONFERENCE

Game 2: (6) Everett Silvertips 1 @ (3) Spokane Chiefs 4
Spokane leads Best of 7 series 2-0

D Dane Crowley, EVT:
Game: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Series: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM

Spokane again got out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Game 3 is Tuesday in Everett and the Silvertips have a lot of work to do to get back in the series.

Game 2: (5) Kelowna Rockets 3 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 1
Kelowna leads Best of 7 series 2-0

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play
Series: 0 GP

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Loss, 23 saves on 26 shots
Series: 2 GP, 0-2, 3.09 GAA, .885 sv%

Kelowna will return home Monday for Game 3 with a commanding lead in the series and home ice advantage. Kristofer Westblom has played well as Kelowna’s No.1 with a 1.50 GAA and a .943 save percentage in two games. Five of Kelowna’s six goals in the series have come on the power play. The game winning goal Saturday was scored when a centering pass deflected off a Seattle skate and behind Helenius.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3/21

QMJHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN DIVISION

(5) Lewiston MAINEiacs 3 @ (4) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 8
Cape Breton leads Best of 7 series 1-0

D Michael Ward, LEW:
Game: Did not play (suspension)

King's pick Jonathan Bernier was lit up and pulled for Lewiston.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- EASTERN CONFERENCE

(6) Brandon Wheat Kings 1 @ (3) Lethbridge Hurricanes 2
Lethbridge leads Best of 7 series 1-0

C Mitch Fadden, LET:
Game: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, *Second Star*

After trailing 1-0 mid-way through the third period, Dwight King and Zach Boychuk scored on back-to-back power plays within a minute of each other to give Lethbridge the win.

WHL FIRST ROUND -- WESTERN CONFERENCE

(6) Everett Silvertips 2 @ (3) Spokane Chiefs 5
Spokane leads Best of 7 series 1-0

D Dane Crowley, EVT:
Game: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (unsportsmanlike conduct)

Spokane got out to an early 3-0 lead and never looked back. Kyle Beach returned to the Everett lineup and was scoreless with 2 PIM.

(5) Kelowna Rockets 3 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 2
Kelowna leads Best of 7 series 1-0

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play.

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Loss, 23 saves on 26 shots

One of the two Lightning property goaltenders in this series got the start for their respective teams, but Helenius and Seattle couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead and dropped Game 1. Brady Leavold (undrafted) scored the GTG and GWG for Kelowna. His GTG came with 14 seconds left in the second period.

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