The 17-year-old Bittner has 11 points in 17 playoffs games.

Portland Winterhawks forward Paul Bittner, a Crookston native, has been selected as the Western Hockey League's Denny's WHL Player of the Week for the week ending May 4. The 17-year-old tallied three goals and one assist along with a +3 rating over two game this past weekend.

Bittner, a top-line winger, helped the Winterhawks take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series against the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL Championship Series.

"It's an honor to be selected as WHL Player of the Week," Bittner told the Times Tuesday. "It doesn't do much to my confidence. I'm not focusing on that as I am the challenges we face coming up in games 3 and 4 here in Edmonton."

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Bittner recorded 22 goals and 27 assists for 49 points in 63 regular season games. He has tallied five goals and six assists for 11 points and is a +13 in 17 playoff games this season. Last year, Bittner had no points and was a -4 in 19 playoff games.

"One of the things that comes into play is experience," Bittner said about the difference this season. "I was able to play a lot in playoffs last year and into the Memorial Cup which helped me grow in the game."

Earlier this season Bittner was captured celebrating a goal by making a "C" with his hand, representing Crookston.

"And yes the 'C' I put up is for Crookston," he said. "I will never forget where I came from. My family, friends, everyone in Crookston who I cannot thank enough for their help to get to where I am now. It takes a village to raise a child. I am truly grateful, and cannot wait to see everyone when I return home for the summer after my work here is over not just on the ice, but also in my studies."

Bittner and the Winterhawks are looking to repeat at WHL champions. He feels confident they can get the job done.

"The team last year was one that could never be repeated, but this year is quite the same," Bittner explained. "We have a talented, mature, and experienced D-core, and our goalie Corbin Boes has taken the starting position and has played excellent since he took over. And our forwards are very much the same, experienced and deep. So we have a lot of depth and it comes to show in our play. I think we have won 42 of the last 45 games. We know we're gonna win, and we expect to win. That's the mentality we have coming into each game, and we know what we have to do to win."

Bittner is not eligible for the NHL Draft until next year but will attend it this year with his agency, Newport Sports Management, Inc., to get a feel for it. Newport Sports represents many of the top players in the NHL, including Zach Parise.

"I don't have much plans for the summer other than going to Philadelphia for the draft for 4 days, that will be an awesome experience as I head into my draft year the following season," Bittner said.


Follow Derek Martin on Twitter: