Gabe Klassen and Eric Jameison chase the puck in a hockey game. As the Winterhawks and Silvertips prepare for a second-round battle

And so, they meet again. The I-5 Rivalry has been renewed: after previously meeting in the first round of the 2023 WHL Playoffs, the Portland Winterhawks and Everett Silvertips are once again set to face one another in the postseason. This time in the second round of the 2024 WHL Playoffs, tonight will be the first game of the seven-game series.

Previous Match-Ups

Of course, last year’s series was a quick one for the Winterhawks, dispatching Everett in five games, courtesy of a Robbie Fromm-Delorme series-clinching overtime goal in Game 5. For Everett, it’s a scar that is relatively recent for their returning players, such as Austin Roest, Ben Hemmerling, and Kaden Hammell– one that they will certainly hope to avenge. Conversely, the Winterhawks and their age-20 players, James Stefan, Gabe Klassen, and Jack O’Brien, are looking to shake off their second-round boogeyman that has haunted them the past two seasons and advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

The Winterhawks and Silvertips matched up eight times in the regular season, with the Winterhawks decisively winning the season series 6-2. This will be the eighth time that the teams have faced each other in the playoffs, the I-5 Rivalry effectively renewed.


Amongst the news that Silvertips general manager and head coach Dennis Williams had accepted an offer to become the new head coach of Bowling Green State University’s men’s ice hockey team, the Silvertips dispatched their first-round opponent, the Vancouver Giants, in five games. The aforementioned Roest led the way in scoring for the Silvertips in the series with three goals and four assists, while Silvertips starting goaltender Tyler Palmer shut down the Giants’ offense with a goals against average (GAA) of 1.63 and a save percentage (SV%) of .937%. His efforts in the series, capitalized by a Game 5 shutout to send the Silvertips to the second round, earned him WHL Goalie of the Week honors.

The Silvertips have the distinction of being in the playoffs as well as picking first overall in the 2024 WHL Prospects draft. The blockbuster trade in which the Silvertips sent Olen Zellweger and Ryan Hofer to the Kamloops Blazers made this possible, with Kamloops’ first-round draft pick as well as their fifth-round pick this year going to Everett. Since Kamloops finished with the worst record in the WHL at 20-42-6, the Silvertips ended up with the first overall pick in the draft. It’s a near-certainty that the Silvertips will use the first overall pick on 14-year-old defenseman Landon Dupont, who was recently announced by the WHL as an Exceptional Status player. Since Dupont is an Exceptional Status player, he will be able to play the entirety of the 2024-25 WHL season as a fifteen-year-old.


Meanwhile, going southbound on Interstate 5, the Winterhawks also made quick work of their first-round opponents in the Victoria Royals, sweeping the series in four games. While twenty-year old and recent Edmonton Oilers signee James Stefan led the way in scoring for the Winterhawks, it was a particularly impressive series for Luca Cagnoni, scoring three goals and adding four assists in the series. Portland’s high-power offense made life easier for their goaltender Jan Špunar, who posted a .901 SV% and a 2.50 GAA in the series. Though the Winterhawks did sweep the series, Victoria certainly didn’t make it easy for them, with Games 1 and 3 decided by only one goal.

Of note, this series deviates from the standard 2-2-1-1-1 format because of scheduling conflicts at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Instead, the series will start in Portland but go in a 2-3-2 format. Games 3, 4, and 5 will be played at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

Though it might not be the primary rivalry along Interstate 5, these two teams are well familiar with one another, and that’s usually a recipe for an entertaining series, especially with a renewed rivalry. We will see two of the WHL’s top goaltenders between the creases and potential line matchups like Everett’s Roest and Hemmerling against Portland’s Cagnoni and Carter Sotheran. It will be a high-paced, intense matchup the whole way through.