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Carruth wins fifth game in a row as Portland reaches WHL Championship

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks
Mac Carruth (bottom, second from right) made 39 saves on 40 shots in a 4-1 victory as the Winterhawks clinched the WHL's Western Conference championship on April 26. (Photo courtesy of WHL/Bryan Heim)

Mac Carruth and the Portland Winterhawks continued their dominant postseason run by claiming their second consecutive Western Conference championship on Thursday evening with a 4-1 victory over Tri-City and advancing to the WHL’s final round against either the Edmonton Oil Kings or Moose Jaw Warriors.

Portland hosted Games 4 and 5 and used home ice to their advantage, outshooting Tri-City 108-79 in the final two games of the series. Carruth made 38 saves on 39 shots on April 25 in a 3-1 victory. He picked up where he left off the next night, stopping 39 of 40 shots as the Winterhawks scored four third-period goals and swept the series.

Carruth’s playoff record now stands at 12-3, with a 2.86 goals-allowed average and .920 save percentage. He is tied for the league lead with two postseason shutouts and 15 appearances, and paces all WHL goalies with 493 total saves on 536 shots faced.

With the Western Conference title secured, the Winterhawks look toward the WHL crown, their faltering point last season, when they won the first game of their championship series against Kootenay but lost the next four in a row, with two of the games decided in overtime. Portland could potentially face the Edmonton Oil Kings, who held the league’s best win percentage of the regular season (.743) and can clinch the Eastern Conference title with a win tonight.

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