Wednesday 05.16.12 / 02:05 PM
Courtesy: Steve Ewen, theprovince.com
Ive seen some chatter on message boards suggesting that this years championship series between the Portland Winterhawks and Edmonton Oil Kings is the best WHL final ever.
Ive only watched two WHL finals firsthand, with the 2006 set between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors and the 2007 tilt featuring the Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers, so I decided to turn to Shaw play-by-play man and CKNW Sportstalk host Dan Russell on the idea of No. 1 championship series.
His pick? The 2007 duel between the Giants and Tigers, followed by the 1981 finale featuring the Victoria Cougars and Calgary Wranglers. (The Cougars, featuring Barry Pederson, won in seven.)
His top five round out with this years series between the Oil Kings and Winterhawks, followed by 2009 with the Kelowna Rockets and Calgary Hitmen (Kelowna beat heavily favoured Calgary in six) and 1984 with the Kamloops Blazers and Regina Pats. (Kamloops won in seven.)
Again, Im biased because 2007 was one of the series I witnessed firsthand, but it has to be hard to compete with a series that featured a Game 7 overtime decision in a jam-packed Medicine Hat rink that was filled at points with this eerie fog, since it was so warm. The referees had to more than once stop the game and have the teams do laps to clear the air.
It was a series that featured a bizarre set-up fight, with Medicine Hat pest Derek Dorsett goading Vancouvers Kenndal McArdle into a bout off an opening whistle, only to have Tigers blueliner Jordan Bendfeld skate up from the blueline and step in on Dorsetts behalf.
There was also Dorsett getting suspended for a game for biting the finger of McArdle during a scrum later on.
And there had been predictions beforehand that both teams were going to go through the motions, since Vancouver had the host berth for the Memorial Cup and both squads automatically qualified for the national tournament.
Brennan Bosch bagged the winner at 7:16 of the second overtime for a 3-2 triumph that marked the first time ever that a WHL final had ended in a Game 7 overtime. It was the first time the series had gone seven games since 1994, too.
It was as good a series as Ive been in, Giants bench boss Don Hay, the veteran skipper who, oddly enough, was coaching the Kamloops Blazers when they beat the Saskatoon Blades in Game 7 in 94, told the media that night.
This series was an intense as any series weve been in. In fact, its the hardest series that I remember being in.
I think were a better hockey team at the end of this series, even though we didnt get the result we wanted. How hard we had to work and compete is going to make every player and is going to make our team better.