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Carruth notches second shutout, Portland advances to WHL conference final

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks

Mac Carruth exchanges a handshake with his Kamloops counterpart after registering a Game 7 shutout. (Photo courtesy WHL/Richard Galaway)

After going up 3-0 in their second-round matchup against Kamloops in the Western Hockey League Playoffs, Mac Carruth and his Portland Winterhawks hit a major speed bump, losing the next three contests and being pushed to the brink of elimination. In Game 4, the Winterhawks held a 4-1 lead after the first period, but allowed the next four goals to the Blazers and eventually lost 5-4. Game 5 was a 7-2 blowout loss on home ice. Kamloops engineered another comeback in Game 6, scoring five times in the third period to nip the Winterhawks 7-6.

Carruth was in net for all seven goals against in Game 6 after allowing 11 combined in the two previous losses. On Wednesday night the Winterhawks righted the ship with a 2-0 victory in Game 7, as Carruth made 32 saves for his second shutout of the WHL postseason. Carruth ranks third in the league in postseason minutes (647), first in shots faced and saves (339 of 372) and seventh in save percentage (.911).

Portland advances to the Western Conference Final against top-seeded Tri-City. The Winterhawks were 4-6-0 against the Americans in the regular season, losing the first five meetings in a row before winning the next four and dropping the season-series finale. Carruth appeared in all 10 tilts, stopping 237 of 269 shots for a .881 save percentage.

Tri-City will host Games 1 and 2 on April 20-21.

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