The Portland Winterhawks will have a pair of local players in their lineup when the Memorial Cup gets underway tomorrow in Saskatoon.
Forward Nic Petan of North Delta and defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon of Cloverdale are among the leaders of the Major Junior hockey team which won the Western Hockey League championship last weekend. The Winterhawks defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-2 in a best-of-seven WHL championship series, qualifying for the four-team national championship tournament in Saskatchewan. The Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Halifax Mooseheads and the host Saskatoon Blades are also competing in the Memorial Cup.
For Wotherspoon, the Memorial Cup is the second major tournament of the season. The 19 year-old played for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia last January, and just missed a medal as Canada placed fourth.
A second-round selection in the 2011 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames, Wotherspoon completed his fourth season in Portland with seven goals and 30 assists for a career-best 37 points. The 6’2” 210-pound defenceman, signed to an NHL contract by the Flames in March, added another two goals and eight assists in 21 postseason games.
A product of Cloverdale Minor Hockey and the Valley West Hawks of the BC Hockey Major Midget League, Wotherspoon was named to the WHL’s second all-star team.
Petan had a breakout season with the Winterhawks this season. After netting 14 goals and 35 points in his rookie season in 2011-12, he was on Hockey Canada’s national team at the World Under-18 Championship in Slovakia in August and set a target of 30 goals for his second season in Portland.
The 5’9” 170-pound centre easily surpassed his expectations, scoring 46 times and adding 74 assists for 120 points to tie for the WHL scoring lead.
A first-team all-star, he’s added another nine goals and 28 points in the postseason. He had three assists, two of which set up shorthanded goals, in Portland’s 5-1 win over the Oil Kings last Sunday in Edmonton.
Portland will play their first game Saturday at 4 p.m. (PDT) when they face-off against Halifax. Other games at Monday against London and Wednesday against Saskatoon. All games will be broadcast on SportsNet.