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Know Your Foe: Portland Winterhawks vs. Victoria Royals WHL Playoff Preview

March 27, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Portland Winterhawks News Release

It's been more than a month since the Portland Winterhawks punched their ticket to the 2024 WHL Playoffs, but after picking up their 15th division title in team history and posting a stunning seventh straight 40-win season, the Rose City's finest are ready to open their 13th straight postseason appearance against the Victoria Royals this Friday.

Portland enters the postseason as the #2 seed in the Western Conference, just one point shy of Prince George in the top spot. The Hawks and Cougars cruised atop the conference for much of the year and certainly present as favorites for their half of the WHL bracket, but there are no easy games at this time of year.

With 68 games behind them, there's a new energy in the VMC as the Hawks hit the ice for practice this week. Their remarkable regular season will be celebrated in time, but there's a singular focus inside the Glass Palace.

"It's definitely a very exciting week. It's been a long season and we've worked so hard to get to this point, so I think with the buzz around the rink and the locker room with the guys, we're pretty fired up and we just can't wait for Friday," said forward Josh Davies.

Davies began his career with the Swift Current Broncos, logging 149 games and hearing his name called by the Florida Panthers at the NHL Draft in 2022. After joining the Hawks via trade last summer and posting career-best numbers across the board, Davies earned his first pro contract with the Panthers and has established himself as a true impact player with the Hawks.

Portland's veterans have enjoyed consistent trips to the playoffs throughout their WHL careers, but for some newcomers like Davies, this weekend's experience has been nothing but a dream for the last few years. The Broncos' 2018 championship led to some down seasons during Davies' time with that club.

"It means the world (to play playoff hockey)", said Davies. "I've waited four years for this opportunity and now that it's finally here, I honestly can't believe it. I'm just really looking forward to going to battle for these guys and hopefully bringing back a championship to Portland. There's no other team I'd rather do it with than these guys."

Josh Davies battles for position against Victoria players. (Keith Dwiggins)

The Winterhawks wrapped up the regular season on an 11-game point streak, including five straight wins on home ice. Portland took wins in 14 of 16 games at home from Jan. 1 onward, and the club's 27 home wins were the second-most among all WHL clubs.

That's no coincidence, but instead a by-product of the incredible environment Hawks fans created all year. With regular crowds of 6,000+, the Winterhawks enjoyed unrelenting support throughout the regular season - something they'll lean on heavily as they gear up for a long postseason run.

"(The fans) are definitely the backbone of our team," said Davies. "We wouldn't be where we are without our fans. Having them in the VMC every night cheering loud for us, I think that really excites the guys and gets us going. And then the big moments, the fans are the biggest part of it. So if they're cheering loud, I think we're going to come away with a very exciting result."

The first-round matchup against the Royals seems to be a sweet one on paper, with Portland owning a 4-0-0-0 record in the season series against Victoria this year, but a closer look reveals a dangerous opponent.

"They play a full 60 minutes. They're a tight group, smart players on that team with a lot of skill up front, and they play hard too. It's gonna be a tough matchup - I think we've got a lot of respect for their game," said forward Kyle Chyzowski.

Led by former Winterhawk Dawson Pasternak (72pts) and star 2025 NHL Draft prospect Cole Reschny (59pts), a young Royals team still boasts the high-end talent needed to keep pace with teams like Portland. But depth and experience are in the Winterhawks' favor despite the challenge ahead, with seven NHL-drafted players on the roster and 17 with playoff experience at the WHL level.

Through the last few years, the Hawks have weathered storms and learned from mistakes in the postseason, setting the stage for what should be a thrilling spring in the Rose City.

"I think it's the adversity we've been through," said Chyzowski. "As a group, a lot of us have been here for a while and have been through the ups and downs of this run. We've got a lot of resilience this year that maybe we didn't have a couple of years ago, and I think that's going to be the X-factor."

Cliché as it sounds, there truly is nothing like playoff hockey. Hits are harder, fans are louder and each individual battle looms large over the end result. But with a roster full of players ready to rise to the occasion, the Winterhawks are turning the pressure of the postseason into positive motivation.

"Everyone wants to be in those big moments, and that's something I think we'll thrive on. It's that chance to be able to score the big goal, make the big save - that's the best part about playoffs," said Chyzowski.

"You're going to get a little bit of nerves, but it's going to be awesome."

Series Schedule:

Game 1 - Friday, March 29 - @POR - 7:00 P.M.

Game 2 - Saturday, March 30 - @POR - 6:00 P.M. (Toyota Fan Fest - 3:00 P.M.)

Game 3 - Tuesday, April 2 - @VIC - 7:05 P.M.

Game 4 - Wednesday, April 3 - @VIC - 7:05 P.M.

*Game 5 - Friday, April 5 - @VIC - 7:05 P.M.

*Game 6 - Sunday, April 7 - @POR - 5:00 P.M.

*Game 7 - Tuesday, April 9 - @POR - 7:00 P.M.

Regular Season Results (POR went 4-0-0-0):

Victoria 4 @ Portland 5 (Mar 2 2024) OT

Portland 5 @ Victoria 2 (Feb 24 2024)

Portland 6 @ Victoria 2 (Feb 23 2024)

Victoria 3 @ Portland 4 (Nov 22 2023) SO

POR Leading Scorers in the Season Series:

James Stefan 3G - 3A - 6 PTS

Jack O'Brien 1G - 5A- 6 PTS

Gabe Klassen 2G - 3A - 5 PTS

Kyle Chyzowski 0G - 5A -5 PTS

Josh Zakreski 3G - 1A - 4 PTS

VIC Leading Scorers in the Season Series:

Dawson Pasternak 1G - 6A - 7 PTS

Tyson Laventure 3G - 3A - 6 PTS

Cole Reschny 3G - 2A - 5 PTS

Casper Evensen Haugen 3G - 1A - 4 PTS

Justin Kipkie 0G - 2A - 2 PTS


Tickets for the Winterhawks 2024 WHL Playoffs run are on sale NOW! Click here to purchase single-game tickets (more games will be added as they are announced/needed), or pick up a "Chase The Dream" Playoff Pass to secure your seat at EVERY potential home playoff game for just $175! Be there as your hometown Hawks chase a fourth WHL Championship!


The Winterhawks trust Riverside Payments for all of their credit card processing as the team's official credit card processors.

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