Birch Hills’ Ravndahl enjoying WHL experience

Photo by Keith Dwiggins/Portland Winterhawks. Portland Winterhawks defenceman Rhett Ravndahl.

It’s been a positive year in the Pacific Northwest for Rhett Ravndahl.

The Birch Hills product and former Prince Albert Minto is in his rookie season with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks, who currently sit in third place in the Western Conference.

Ravndahl, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday, says the experience of playing in the WHL has exceeded his wildest expectations.

“It’s a crazy experience. I love being here. I love the fans; I love playing hockey here and just being at the competitive level. It’s just been a great experience I’ve always dreamed of, and I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Ravndahl was selected by Portland in the fourth round, 83rd overall in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft.

Ravndahl spent parts of three seasons with the Prince Albert Mintos program, recording 25 points in 50 games played. He credited the Mintos for helping prepare him to make the jump to Major Junior hockey.

“The Mintos program was great. I came in my second year Bantam; I was an AP for them and they really liked me from the start. I really liked the organization. I knew it was right for me. I came in and my first year, unfortunately, was A COVID year, but we would have a good year, and the coaches are unbelievable. They knew about my WHL dreams, and they knew what to do to get me on to the next level.”

Back in January, Ravndahl and the Portland Winterhawks traveled to the Art Hauser Centre to take on the Raiders as part of the team’s Eastern division road trip. It was the first time the Winterhawks had traveled to play against the Eastern Conference since prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ravndahl says he had the date circled on his calendar months in advance.

“Oh, that was awesome. In October, we knew when we were coming down, we had our schedule. I was always looking forward to that game. It was a big game for me just to see everyone and play in front of all my family and friends was just huge. Really meant a lot to me and I think I got to show what I could do.”

There will be playoff hockey in Ravndahl’s future as Portland has punched their ticket to the 2023 WHL Postseason. The Winterhawks are one of four teams in the Western Conference to clinch a playoff berth with 11 games remaining in the season.

Portland is likely to finish with the third seed as they trail US Division leader Seattle and BC Division leader Kamloops in the standings. Ravndahl says the Winterhawks have had their sights set on the playoffs all year long.

“Ever since the season started, it’s always been in the back of our minds. We knew we were going to be a playoff team and these games coming up, they’re huge for playoffs, especially against Seattle.. So, it’ll be great to get us ready for our playoff run.

Ravndahl has posted four points in 24 games played with Portland this season.

@nathan_reiter14 •