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.

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