Nino Niederreiter will play for a championship in 2010-2011. His Portland Winterhawks (Western Hockey League) defeated Spokane on Monday night by a 6-3 score and won their conference final four games to two. In the victory, Nino scored the final goal of the game to go along with an earlier assist.
Beginning on Friday night, Portland will take on Kootenay for the right to raise the Ed Chynoweth Cup. For Nino, it will hopefully give him a chance to experience and play under the pressure of truly meaningful games before he becomes a full-time NHL player. Nearly everyone I have spoken with expects that next step to come in October, 2011.
Niederreiter has had little trouble handling pressure to this point. As you'll recall, he followed a nine game NHL stint with a 70 point (41-29-70) regular season for Portland. Nino has been a major contributor in the playoff run that followed, scoring 8 goals and 15 assists in the sixteen games that ensued. He'll get at least four more games, we now know. If he maintains this pace, he'll likely finish as the WHL's playoff points leader.
Congratulations to Nino. It would be nice for his many fans, myself included, to see him win the Cup. But it will be infinitely nicer to see him donning the blue and orange sweater next season and scoring goals as the Islanders' newest young winger.
To follow Nino on Twitter, please check http://twitter.com/hawksnids22. To follow the author, click http://twitter.com/RealKenDick.