EDMONTON - Jordan Peddle scored the short-handed game winner Thursday as the Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Portland Winterhawks 3-2 in Game 1 of the Western Hockey League final.
Rhett Rachinski and Martin Gernat also scored for Edmonton. Curtis Lazar, who leads the Oil Kings with 16 points in the post-season, was held off the scoresheet.
Marcel Noebels and Sven Bartschi scored for Portland as the Winterhawks attempted to come back from a 3-0 deficit. Ty Rattie's assist on Bartschi's goal in the second kept him on top of WHL scoring in the post-season with 30 points.
"We came out with a pretty good first period and got up 3-0. I thought we gave up a bit of a weak penalty kill goal," Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal said. "You saw the firepower that Portland has, they have that great transition game. We have to refocus for (Friday) and Game 2."
Early in the third period Rattie was drilled into the side boards on a devastating hit by Edmonton winger Mitch Moroz. Rattie's head snapped back into the boards on the hit, which was ruled clean by the officials. He left the game and did not return.
"Ty's really good with the puck, he manages it well and keeps it to the outside," said Portland head coach Mike Johnston. "He got on one leg and was taken into the boards off-balance. He seems to be fine. We'll see how he is. You're always cautious (in those situations)."
Edmonton led 3-0 with Peddle's short-handed goal 14:30 into the second period with Lazar in the box for checking from behind. But Noebels scored 12 seconds later before Lazar's penalty could expire to give Portland life.
Bartschi scored less than two minutes later to make it 3-2 but Portland couldn't find the tying goal.
The teams combined to lose only four games in the post-season entering the final series, with Edmonton's lone loss coming on the road in Moose Jaw in the Eastern semifinals.
"It was a lot like the script we expected," Johnston said. "Our team got better as the game went along. The first goal set us back a bit but we started to play well in quite a few areas. We missed a few opportunities around the net.
"Certainly Edmonton's a dynamic team and you have to make sure you good on the backcheck. The two teams front to back are very similar in a lot of ways."
The game marked the first time the two teams have met in the playoffs since Edmonton's modern era franchise began in 2007. The original Oil Kings relocated to Portland in 1976, where Laxdal played during the Winterhawks' 1982-83 Memorial Cup season.
The two clubs only met once during the regular season, an 8-4 decision in favour of the Oil Kings.
The Winterhawks are appearing in back-to-back WHL finals for the first time since the 1982 and 1983 championships.