The Seattle Thunderbirds have had a target on their backs all season as defending WHL Western Conference champions.
On Monday, they lived up to the hype.
A 4-2 win over the Kamloops Blazers in Game 6 of the Western final in Kamloops clinched the best-of-seven series for the T-birds, who will face the Winnipeg ICE in the WHL championship starting Friday in Winnipeg.
T-birds right winger Nico Myatovic, an 18-year-old Prince George native, set up Jared Davidson early in the second period for the tying goal in Monday’s win. He now has two goals and two assists in 14 playoff games.
Myatovic got to the final last year in his rookie season and the T-birds pushed the Edmonton Oil Kings to six games before losing their chance to play in the Memorial Cup, a Seattle playoff run that lasted 25 games.
The T-birds are 12-2 this year in the playoffs, having swept the Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars in the opening two rounds.
The ICE have been equally dominant in the Eastern Conference. In 14-game run so far they defeated the Medicine Hat Tigers in a four-game series, beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 4-2 and eliminated the Saskatoon Blades 4-0.
The first two games of the final will be played in Winnipeg at Canada Life Centre, home of the NHL Jets, then will switch to Kent, Wash., for the Games 3, 4 next Tuesday and Wednesday, and if necessary, Game 5 on Friday. Games 6 and 7, if needed, would be played in Winnipeg.
Given that it’s a 2,232-kilometre drive from Kent, Washington, to Winnipeg, the teams will be flying to get to their games.
TSN will provide network TV coverage for all except for the first two games of the final.