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HomeSportsHart AttackHARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (The puck stoppers) April 29th, 2022 EDITION 886

HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (The puck stoppers) April 29th, 2022 EDITION 886

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Call me old fashion but I always prefer a great goaltending battle rather than a high-scoring game.

I will sign up for a 2-1 battle with both goalies among the three stars rather than a 6-5 game where both teams had a player with a hat trick.

That is likely a minority opinion but in my mind, there is always something special when goals are at a premium.

Which WHL first-round sweep would you rather have watched, Portland-Prince George or Edmonton-Lethbridge?

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The Winterhawks beat the Cougars by scores of 5-2 (last goal empty net), 2-1, 2-0, and 2-1 for a total of 11-4 for a combined 15 goals.

The Oil Kings whipped the Hurricanes by scores of 4-1, 4-0, 4-1, and 6-4 for a total of 18-6 for a combined 24 goals.

Taylor Gauthier of the Winterhawks has a playoff save percentage of .965, which is best in the WHL among goalies that have played more than one game, while Tyler Brennan of the Cougars is tied for third at .954.

Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa is 5th with a .936 save percentage while Bryan Thomson of Lethbridge is 10th at .913.

One could argue a sweep is a sweep but I would suggest Portland and Prince George were more competitive with better goaltending than Edmonton and Lethbridge.

The fact Gauthier and Brennan were former teammates and remain great friends off the ice added to the intrigue especially since both were at the top of their games.

The 18-year-old Brennan did not allow more than two goals in any of the four games (he did not start Game 1 and came in when his team trailed 3-0 in the first period) while the 20-year-old Gauthier, making his playoff debut after five years in the league, averaged a mere one goal against in the series.

One could make an argument that the Portland-P.G. series lacked the surprise element.

The goaltending at both ends was terrific as advertised and the better team (with 46 more regular-season points) won based on more firepower.

While the Cougars’ season is over, they can now cheer for Gauthier and the Winterhawks the rest of the way.

The further Portland goes in the playoffs, the more Prince George gets in return from that December 28th trade between the two teams that saw defenceman Jonas Brondberg and draft picks come to the Cats in return for Gauthier.

That is one deal that both teams would make again since it worked out for each side.

The Winterhawks likely would not be a contender without Gauthier while the youthful Cougars needed to give Brennan and his backup Ty Young more playing time.

Next up for Portland, time off to get ready for the second round next week.

The Winterhawks’ opponent has yet to be determined although there is a strong possibility it will be against the Kamloops Blazers.

If this is the case, Gauthier will be in another goaltending battle with Dylan Garand of the Blazers.

Both have NHL-signed contracts (Gauthier with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Garand with the New York Rangers).

They know each very well as former teammates while playing for Team Canada.

On paper, this would be the best second-round goaltending match-up.

Yet another series where each goal should mean something.

This is what the playoffs are all about.


Cat Scan podcast:


Taking Note:



The Oakland A’s drew crowds of 3,748 and 2,703 — their worst two gates since 1980 — in recent back-to-back games. Team publicists, not missing a beat, retroactively proclaimed them Social Distancing Nights.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times

The cash-strapped City of Oakland is rumored to be shifting funds from various departments, including public schooling, to keep the A’s. The latest proposal, I heard will keep the A’ in Oakland, but graduating high school seniors will be doing so from the 6th grade.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Evaluations of picks on NFL draft nights are like evaluating long-term relationships after a great Tinder first date. Some do result in long-term relationships. Some are in short-term relationships. And some … well, maybe it was a great night.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California

In Case You Missed It:

Philadelphia fans rained boos down on the court in Monday night’s Raptors-Sixers game. Nothing new there — except this time it was triggered by more than one big guy in red.

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).

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