Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hawks Soar Past Everett 11-4, are One Win From Advanving

Apparently a trip to Everett is just what the Doctor ordered for Portland in this series. The Hawks struggled at times with Everett at home, losing game one. Then they headed up I-5 and outscored them 18-7 in only 2 games.

Portland scored often in this one, opening with a goal from Ty Rattie 8:02 into the game. This was one that Everett goalie Austin Lotz would want back as Rattie shot from a bad angle and banked it off his pad and in. The top line for Portland smelled blood in the water and took advantage on the 5on 3 power play when Brendan Leipsic followed up a Nic Petan shot that Lotz made a great save on, making it 2-0. Then Chase De Leo converted the other power play with his second of the playoffs. Leipsic scored his second of the game with an assist to Rattie and the Hawks had a commanding 4-0l lead. Josh Winquist got one back for Everett when he picked the top glove side corner on Mac Carruth. What life that gave the Tips was short lived however, as Defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon wired one past Lotz to end the first period with a 5-1 lead.

Winquist scored his second of the game on a 5 on 3 power play for Everett only 2 minutes into the second period to get them back within 3 goals. Then the Ty Rattie show happened as he scored off consecutive long outlet passes from Derick Pouliot and Wotherspoon to make it 7-2. That would not be the last goal of the period as Wotherspoon fired home a point shot for his second goal of the game.

Ty Rattie
For the second night in a row Lotz would be pulled heading into the third period for Daniel Cotton. About 10 minutes into the period things got a little hairy, when Ben Betker slashed at Ty Rattie's wrist. Rattie had already hurt the wrist earlier from a Landon Oslanski slash and took exception with this behavior. He slashed Betker back and the game deteriorated from there. Carruth was pulled to keep him from getting injured, as he had already gotten tangled up 2 different times with Everett players. The top line didn't see the ice for the rest of the game and the second line saw very little time. Joey Baker, Taylor Leier and Josh Hanson all scored for the Hawks in the period, while Cole MacDonald and Reid Petryk scored on replacement goalie Brendan Burke to end the game at 11-4.

Carruth stopped 16 of 18 shots, while Burke stopped 3 of the 5 he faced. Austin Lotz made 21 saves on 29 shots, while Daniel Cotton stopped 6 of 9.

The Hawks were 3 of 7 on the power play while Everett converted 1 of the 6 chances they were given.

3 Stars:
#3- Tyler Wotherspoon- Lobbied for some late power play time in hopes of getting his first career hat trick, but was turned down by Coach Travis Green. He ended the night with 2 goals and 2 assists.
#2- Brendan Leipsic- 2 goals and 3 assists in the game. He really seems to have been woken up by some of the rough treatment he received in game 3.
Brendan Leipsic
#1- Ty Rattie- 3 goals and 2 assists. Everett's defense could not keep up with the speed the top line brought.

Random Notes:
-Carruth had a better game in this one, making several solid stops.
-Keegan Iverson threw a late hit after the final buzzer starting a late melee that ended with Nikkel throwing several punches at a prone Shawn MacPherson.
-Edmonton eliminated Kootenay with a 4-1 victory.
-Everett fans threw many items on the ice and at officials, seemingly more over frustration with the scoreboard then actual perceived missed calls.
-Leipsic's 4 first period points tied a franchise record held by Adam Deadmarsh and Ray Ferraro.
-Rattie now has 69 career playoff points, only 2 shy of Randy Heath's team record.
-The Tips gamble in putting two of their experienced defensemen up front seems to have backfired as Portland's relentless fore-check was more then their young d-men could handle.
-Game 5 goes tonight at the Coliseum in Portland.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Look Ahead to Game 4/ Friday News and Links

Portland restored order in their first round series on Wednesday night. They let Everett and the entire WHL know that yes this is the team that rolled up 57 wins in dominating fashion this year. After back to back games at home where Everett was either winning the game or coming close to it, the Winterhawks left no doubt after the 2nd period that game 3 and home ice advantage was theirs.

Ayrton Nikkel
How did they do this?  Besides playing well at both ends of the ice and moving around on the power play a little more, there wasn't that many differences in their play. Everett, however, played much worse in game 3. Particularly Austin Lotz, who had no chance on several of the Hawk's goals, but pulled the gaffe of the series so far on Portland's 6th goal. He really needs to make 3-4 remarkable saves to keep Everett confident that they can win the game. Also, defenseman Ayrton Nikkel had to have one of his worst games of the year. After starting out great leading the rush on Everett's first goal, he took two stupid penalties that led to pivotal Portland goals. Forward Kohl Bauml was also missing in action after playing great and creating chances in the first two games.

Everett will need to play much better against a Portland team that has thrived on the road all season, setting the WHL record for road wins in the process.

Mac Carruth has got to play much better in game 4. Two of the three Everett goals are probably ones he wants back. He seemed very frustrated with himself after the tips made it 5-3 in the 3rd.
Mac Carruth

News and Links:
-Everett top line forward Manraj Hayer blocked a shot and broke a finger Wednesday and will miss games 4 and 5. Mill Creek, WA resident and 7th round bantam pick, 15 year Daniel Woolfenden was at Everett's practice today.
-Yet another Spokane Tri City playoff game went to overtime last night with Blake Gal getting the winner in a 4-3 game. Spokane now leads 3-1 in the series. Luke Lee-Knight has taken Troy Trombley's place as Tri's starting goalie.
-Dylan Willick got the OT winner 17:47 into extra session for the 5-4 win, giving Kamloops a 3-1 series lead.
-Calgary ousted Swift Current 3-1 last night and 4 game to 1 overall, meaning there are no longer any teams left from the East Division in the playoffs.
-Kelowna could be without 6 regulars for Saturday's pivotal game 5 vs. Seattle (they are down 3-1 in the series).
Marcel Noebels Hawk in 2011-12
-In former Hawk news: here is a piece on Marcel Noebels' rookie season.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hawks Blow Out Everett 7-3; Take 2-1 Series Lead

It was a markedly different game from the first two games in the series on Wednesday night up in Everett. For one thing the first two games had audiences of 9,000+, this one had 2,000. Also, Austin Lotz, who had been the best player in the series so far, had a terrible game and was pulled after the 2nd period.

Portland overcame a little adversity on the way up to Everett after their bus broke down right outside of the rink. Once they got up to Everett and started the game Wednesday night, they had to immediately battle back from a one goal deficit as well.

Only 3:50 into the game, after Portland Defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon pinched down into the Everett zone, Everett broke out against the flow of play and 17 year old forward Dawson Leedahl executed a perfect 3 on 1, with Portland's Nic Petan forced to play defense and it was quickly 1-0 Everett. This lead lasted until 14:41 into the period, when after Ayrton Nikkel took a kneeing penalty, the Hawks got several excellent scoring chances, setting up Petan to bury it backdoor on a wide open net.

Oliver Bjorkstrand
The second period had been pivotal in the first 2 games and last night was no different. Portland would end up taking over the game after scoring 4 straight in the period. First at the 3:15 mark, Ty Rattie finished an odd man rush with his 3rd of the playoffs and it was 2-1 Portland. Then Nic Petan sniped one from the left faceoff circle, picking the top glove-side corner and the Hawks were off and running. Landon Oslanski would give the Hawks their second power-play of the night and Troy Rutkowski tapped in a loose puck in front, converting the Hawks second power-play. Oliver Bjorkstrand would join the scoring party after a great feed in from from a driving Chase De Leo and it was 5-1 to close the period.

Everett seemed to get a little jump in the 3rd period. Joshua Winquist and Dawson Leedahl scored only 21 seconds apart at the 6 minute mark and it was suddenly 5-3. Derrick Pouliot would all but seal the game with his first of the playoffs only 48 seconds after Leedahl's second of the game, making it 6-3. The way he scored the goal, took what energy the crowd had completely out of the building. He fired a weak wrist shot on Daniel Cotton, who had replaced Lotz, from center ice, in order to change defensive pairings. Cotton caught the puck and then promptly lost it into his own net, with no pressure from Portland.  Brendan Leipsic would further greet Cotton with a power play goal to close the scoring at 7-3 with 10:52 left in the game.

Mac Carruth had his worst game of the playoffs, giving up 3 goals on only 13 shots. Lotz gave up 5 goals on 24 shots and Cotton gave up two goals on 6 shots. Portland was 3/5 on the power play and Everett was 0/2.

3 Stars:
#3- Derrick Pouliot- Seems to play his best games up in Everett. Scored one goal and had 2 assists. Both he and his defensive partner: Troy Rutkowski had another great night, setting up chances and keeping Everett from getting any easy looks at the net.
Nic Petan

#2- Brendan Leipsic- Once again got involved in the after the whistle shenanigans early and was inspired to another great game. He finished with a goal and 2 assists.

#1- Nic Petan- Best game of the series so far for Petan, with 2 goals and 2 assists. He showed a lot of confidence and the puck seemed to be glued to his stick at times.

Random Notes:
-#2 Ayrton Nikkel: a mid season acquisition from Brandon was sat for games one and two in favor of 15 year old d-man Kevin Adam. One would think he will not see the ice again this series after taking 2 stupid penalties that led to two Hawks power play goals.
-Portland has seemed to adjust to Everett using Landon Oslanski on their 3rd forward line. He did not seem to be much of a factor all game.
Manraj Hayer
-Everett's Manraj Hayer, who had been playing on their top line, left the game with a broken finger after blocking a shot.
-Dawson Leedahl, playing in his 16 year old season, had 3 goals all year long and had 2 in this one, playing on the 2nd line.
-Portland's top line, as well as, Seth Jones and Tyler Wotherspoon did not play the final 10 minutes of the game.
-Medicine Hat shocked the Saskatoon Blades by sweeping the Memorial Cup champions with a 3-1 win. The Tigers were the 7th seed in the east and the Blades were the #3. They will now have almost 2 months off before hosting the Memorial Cup in mid-may.
-Kelowna beat Seattle 4-0 avoiding the sweep and sending the series back to Kelowna for Saturday's game down 3-1 in the series.
-Edmonton took a 3-1 series lead with a 4-0 win in Kottenay.
-Red Deer completed the 4 game sweep in Prince Albert with a 3-2 win.
-The WHL admitted that they missed the hand pass that led to Calgary's game winning goal in over time. Former Tri City American Brooks Macek gloved the puck into the crease and Victor Rask banged in the loose puck for the 1-0 win and 3-1 series lead. Now if they will only admit that they got the situation wrong in penalizing the Winterhawks franchise...
-Spokane is leading Tri City 2 games to 1, heading into tonight's game 4 in Tri City.
-Kamloops also has a 2-1 lead on Victoria going into tonight's game 4 in Victoria.

Monday, March 25, 2013

5 Differences in Games 1 and 2/ Monday News and Links

Portland played very differently in games 1 and 2. To me there were 5 major things Portland did better in Game 2:

Troy Rutkowski
Derrick Pouliot
1) Better defensive coverage- Particularly the Derrick Pouliot and Troy Rutkowski pairing. They were victimized quite often in game one and seemed to struggle with the more shifty Everett players- Kohl Bauml, Reid Petryk and Joshua Winquist especially. They were not caught out of position very often in game 2 and did a great job of stick checking any Everett player who attempted to carry the puck in.

2) Blocking shots- This is something that the forwards, particularity Ty Rattie with a nice block on a point shot, helped out with as well. Though, Seth Jones and Tyler Wotherspoon were the ones to really excel at this in game 2. This kept the amount and type of shots that Goalie Mac Carruth had to face to a minimum and from a distance.

3) Puck control- Portland has done a better job this year at controlling the boards against teams and Saturday night was no exception. They did not take as many shots, but the shots that they did take were mostly of a better quality then the night before.

4) Creating turnovers- Troy Rutkowski's pocket picking of Landon Oslanski to set up the Rattie goal is the biggest example, but Portland did force more turnovers Saturday night. They will continue to try and do this and should be able to, considering Everett is using two of their more experienced Defensemen as forwards in an attempt to use their size to wear down the Hawk's defense.

5) Back-checking- The forwards have, all year, come back into their defensive zone and pressured the Everett forwards, helping out in limiting shot quality and quantity. This is something that they have done well for most of the year and so is almost all effort based. They will need to continue to do this to advance in the playoffs.

News and Links:
-17 year old Luke Philp got the over time winner for Kootenay over Edmonton  on Sunday night. Their series is now tied at a game apiece.
-Vancouver Giant's coach Don Hay was named the Canada U-18 coach on Monday.
-Silvertip's blog looks at #38 Defenseman Kevin Davis, who played games 1 and 2 and is 15 in hockey years.
-There was an odd trade in the NHL on Sunday. Former Hawks Joe Morrow and Brendan Morrow(no relation), were traded for one another as Pittsburgh and Dallas swapped the two.
Brendan Morrow Hawk from 1995-99

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Portland Takes Game Two 4-1 to Knot Series Up

A sold out crowd of 10,947 watched Portland once again dominate play against the Everett Silvertips and pull out a solid victory this time 4-1 to tie the series up at one game apiece heading to Everett for games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Friday night. They now are guaranteed a game 5, which will be Saturday March 30th at home.

The Hawks started out dominating possession again creating 4 power play chances for themselves in the first period. The goal that they would sore was at even strength, however when Manraj Hayer fanned on a chance on one end and Nic Petan Brendan Leipsic and Ty Rattie started an odd man rush the other way. After the initial shot by Rattie, Defenseman Troy Rutkowski, jumping into the play would find the rebound and put it past Everett Goalie Austin Lotz for the 1-0 lead. This would be the only goal scored in the period,but it did not feel as devastating as game one because they only out shot Everett 9-3 in the period.

Shaun MacPherson
The second period is where the Hawks lost the game on Friday and it's where they won it last night. They dominated play out shooting Everett 9-1 and getting the second goal they needed for a little bit of a cushion. They scored their goal when, at the 8:04 mark, Taylor Paters retrieved an errant Shaun MacPherson point shot and got it back to him. MacPherson made a nice fake and utilized a Paul Bittner screen in firing it past Lotz's blocker, scoring his first career playoff goal and giving Portland a 2-0 lead.

6:43 into the 3rd, right after killing a penalty, Troy Rutkowski made a great play at center ice, picking Everett Defenseman Landon Oslanski and sending Ty Rattie in on the breakaway. Rattie buried it top shelf, scoring his 2nd of the post-season and giving the Hawks the 3-0 lead. Everett would get that one back, however, when on the power play, Joshua Winquist drove the Hawks net from the right corner, getting his own rebound and putting it through Mac Carruth's 5-hole. Any further come back would not happen though as Derrick Pouliot fired a point shot on the power play past Lotz's glove, closing out the scoring and the game 4-1.

The game would start to get a little ugly late, when Everett started to lose their head a bit. Down 3 goals, two of their better players, Landon Oslanski and Joshua Winquist, were awarded game misconducts for instigating fights late in the game. This would help destroy any opportunity they had at coming back in this game.

Austin Lotz did not stand on his head in this one, though he was solid with 30 saves on 34 shots. Carruth made 10 saves on only 11 shots. Portland was 1/7 on the power play and Everett was 1/4.

3 Stars:
#3- Derrick Pouliot- Played a much better defensive game, scored a big goal and even got involved in a couple scrums near the benches.
Troy Rutkowski
#3- Ty Rattie- Had a goal and an assist and helped his line have a much more consistent game in this one.
#1- Troy Rutkowski- The captain responded well from a poor game one, getting a goal early and feeding Rattie on his breakaway goal. He got involved in a scrum as well, showing some grit.

Random Notes:
-Portland had a goal taken away half way through the first period, when, on a 5-3 power play, Nic Petan put a rebound into Lotz's blocker. Lotz brought the blocker, containing the puck across the goal line, but, even after review was somehow not awarded a goal.
-Brendan Leipsic was one of several Hawks that had a much better game 2, getting into a late fight with a much larger Connor Cox. When Leipsic is involved in scrums, he is going to have his head in the game a little more.
-Everett, for the second game in a row, used Defensemen Landon Oslanski and Cole McDonald as forwards. Meaning they are short-handed in experience up front.
-Seattle upset Kelowna for the second night in a row 2-1 in over time. They now have a 2-0 lead over the 2nd seeded Rockets.
-Spokane won 6-4 over Tri City and Kamloops beat Victoria by the same score. They both have 2-0 leads in their series.
-Former Winterhawk Frazer McLaren(2003-08) scored a beautiful between the legs goal in Toronto's 3-2 win over Boston last night.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Silvertips Shock Hawks in Game One 4-3

No one gave the Everett Silvertips a chance against the Scotty Munro trophy winning Portland Winterhawks, in their first round series. For one thing they went 1-9 against the Hawks in the regular season. But, everything starts over in the playoffs and they proved that getting two different two goal leads, before holding on during a late Winterhawks barrage.

Portland seemed to feed off the crowd from the get-go and had 22 shots on Everett goalie Austin Lotz in the first period. Lotz made several key saves, but was also helped by the Hawks missing on great scoring chances. Portland would finally get one 9:34 in after Taylor Leier took several shots on Lotz, on the powerplay and Chase De Leo found a rebound to put in the open net. Portland could not find the net again in the first, despite dominating play. This would end up being key in the Tip's victory.

In the 2nd, the Hawk's worst dreams would come true when the Tips scored twice to take the lead. First, they scored a weird one at 3:07. when the puck went off Portland D-man Troy Rutkowski and past an out of position Carruth. Everett D-man Cole MacDonald would get credit for the goal as he was the player who crashed into Carruth while carrying the puck. Then with only 2:55 left in the period, 16 year old Tyler Sandhu beat the Hawk's Defense to a puck behind the net and found a wide open Joshua Winquist in the slot. Winquist wired it past Carruth and the 9300+ in attendance were quickly quieted.

Nic Petan and Joshua Winquist
It would go from bad to worse for Portland in the third period when 3:25 in, Everett's Ty Mappin took a long wrist shot from the point that Carruth gave a rebound off to his left on. Kohl Bauml beat the Hawk's Defense to the puck and backhanded it around Carruth's left pad to give Everett the 3-1 lead. Portland would answer the bell, however and they created a slew of offensive chances that Lotz turned away until Ty Rattie one-timed a great pass from Brendan Leipsic with 10:23 left in the game. The relief from the team and crowd was palpable. Portland then flew up the ice creating chance after chance, that Lotz somehow turned away. Included in these saves was a beauty he made on Taylor Leier. Leier had an open net to shoot at but Lotz dove across to make the glove save. The media timeout at the half-way mark of the period could not have come at a better time for the Tips, as the Hawks were buzzing all around the ice. Then off the timeout Kohl Bauml caught Seth Jones and Tyler Wotherspoon out of position and fired a wrist shot past Carruth's blocker to make it 4-2. Portland would pull Carruth and get a late powerplay to make it 6 players to 4 on the ice. They would take advantage after several great chances when Nic Petan put home the second rebound off a Seth Jones point shot to make it 4-3 with 16 seconds left. Time was their enemy then as they would not get another scoring chance, giving Everett the 4-3 victory. Everett now owns home-ice advantage in the series.

Portland out-shot the Tips 58-31. Lotz made 55 saves and Carruth made 27.

3 Stars:
#3-Taylor Leier- was easily the Hawk's most consistent player in the game, creating many scoring chances and nerly putting in a few of his own.
#2- Kohl Bauml- by my count only had a few shots on goal, but took advantage of two of them, scoring twice.
Austin Lotz
#1- Austin Lotz- he will need to be the #1 star again, should the Tips win any more games in the series. I predicted that he would need to stand on his head to give them a chance and he fit that title to a tee. He made several jaw-dropping saves and was helped by the Hawk's forwards missing key open nets.

Random Notes:
-Lotz made 65 saves in a regular season loss to Kamloops, so he has proven that he can stand on his head against a better team.
-Bauml made an odd play behind the net at 8:42 of the first, when he tripped Mac Carruth behind the net and then put the puck into the open net. The goal was obviously dis-allowed.
-Coach Travis Green made an interesting move by taking Paul Bittner and Keegan Iverson out of the lineup in favor of Joe Mahon and Joey Baker. Iverson and Bittner had been playing on the 3rd line with Taylor Peters.
-In another shocking game 1 win, 7th seeded Seattle beat 2nd seeded Kelowna 5-4 .
-Spokane beat Tri City 4-1 and Kamloops took down Victoria 3-2 in the other game ones in the Western conference.
-Portland is hoping this is not the start of a repeat of the 6 game loss to 8th seeded Prince George back in 1996-97.
-Game 2 is 7:00 tonight

Friday, March 22, 2013

Western Conference Award Finalists/ Friday News and Links

The WHL announced the Western Conference award finalists yesterday and the Winterhawks had several representatives among them. Goalie Mac Carruth, Defenseman Seth Jones and Center Nic Petan were all named to the WHL Western Conference first team and Defensemen Troy Rutkowski and Tyler Wotherspoon, as well as, wingers Ty Rattie and Brendan Leipsic were named to the second team.

Carruth is the Western Conference's candidate for the Goaltender of the Year award and Jones was the candidate put forth for the Rookie of the Year award. They will be going up against Red Deer Goalie Patrik Bartosak and Prince Albert Forward Leon Draisitl respectively, who are the Eastern Conference nominations.

Portland has already received the Scotty Munro trophy for best record in the WHL and Leipsic and Petan tied for the Bob Clarke trophy for most points.

Travis Green
The one glaring omission from this list is Head Coach Travis Green. Green took over a team that had just lost it's Head Coach and General Manager for the year. The team, filled with 16-20 year olds could have collapsed, but instead set team and WHL records on their way to the best record in the league. How does Ryan Huska, the Kelowna Rockets Coach, receive the Western Conference nomination for Coach of the year instead? The obvious answer is that the WHL awards these nominations and would not want to acknowledge that their decision to suspend Mike Johnston for what they perceived as violating league rules, did not have the negative effect that they thought it would. Green instead stepped right in and helped steer a talented, but very young, team right through this adversity and has them sitting pretty heading into the playoffs.

The player of the year finalists will be announced April 18th.

Notes and Links:
-Ex-Winterhawk Cam Lanigan led the 7th seeded Medicine Hat Tigers to a surprising victory at 2nd seeded Saskatoon 4-1 in game 1 last night.
-The Washington Capitals sent a shot across the bow to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, setting a timeline for them to adjust their sweaters, as they look to similar to the Caps'.
-Nick Patterson's piece about what it would take for Everett to "perform a miracle."
-Article in the Columbian about the first round series with Everett.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

1) Portland vs. 8) Everett First Round Preview

Portland (57-12-1-2 for 117 points) will take on the Everett Silvertips (25-40-3-4 for 57 points) in the first round of the WHL playoffs, starting Friday in Portland.

A Look at the Regular Season Series:
Portland won 9 of 10 games in the regular season vs. Everett. Besides the loss on March 2nd, the Hawks only had one of their wins be by one goal. Nic Petan led the Hawks in points vs. Everett with 18 points, while Brendan Leipsic and Ty Rattie had 17 and 13 respectively. Seth Jones led the Hawks with an impressive +12 in the series.On the goaltending side; Brendan Burke actually had a 7-0 record vs the Tips with a 1.86 GAA and a .927 save %. This was surprisingly better then Mac Carruth's 2-1 record with a 2.68 GAA and a .911 save %. Though those also are really good statistics.

Everett was led in points by 20 year old Defenseman Landon Oslanski and 19 year old forward Reid Petryk with 7 points. Forwards Manraj Hayer and Joshua Winquist, as well as, Defenseman Connor Coxall followed with 6 points in the series. Though both Goalies Austin Lotz and Daniel Cotton, had some pretty terrible games vs, the Hawks, Lotz was the first star in Everett's one victory. Lotz had a 1-5 record vs.Portland with a 4.77 GAA and an .879 save %. Cotton had an 0-4 record with a horrendous 5.19 GAA and a .874 save %.

Everett at a Glance:
Ryan Harrison
Austin Lotz
The Tip's hopes in this series seem to rely heavily on 17 year old goalie Austin Lotz. Lotz got better and better as the year went on and at one point had stopped 83 of 85 shots over 3 games, including against the top 2 teams in the WHL (Edmonton and Portland). His team hopes that he can weather the storm of the Hawk's offensive push and they can respond by getting power play chances and capitalizing on them. Their formula on the power play, relies heavily on the heavy point shots of Oslanski and Cox and finding Kohl Bauml between the faceoff circles. 20 year old Forward Ryan Harrison(32 points this year), was on the team for both the sweeps by Tri City last year and Portland the year before, but could miss at least games 1 and 2 in Portland. Harrison has to be hoping he can get into this series and make the impact, he was not able to make the 2 previous years (2 total points). It has been reported that the Tips could also be missing 17 year old Forward Logan Aasman(4 total points). Defenseman Austin Adam(4 points, -12) and Forward Lucas Grayson(-8) have also spent a lot of time out of the lineup, but are expected back. This will only help Everett's depth, which has been put to test this season, with a lot of injuries.

Injuries have helped 16 year old Tyler Sandhu(33 points this year) get more playing time as he has been playing on the top line with Winquist(51 points) and Hayer(40 points). He scored a hat trick vs. Tri City, while playing with these experienced players. Everett follows up with a second line of 16 year old Left Wing Dawson Leedahl(9 points)-18 year old Center Kohl Bauml(36 pts)-19 year old Forward Reid Petryk(40 pts). Because they are over-matched in the Forwards department, they will hope that Defensemen Ben Betker and Oslanski will be able to shut down the Rattie-Petan-Leipsic line. Considering Leipsic or Petan both, individually come within 1 point of matching the entire point output of Everett's top line, this could be a tall order.
Reid Petryk

To get a sense of the matchup, one only has to look at the fact that Portland had 334 goals for(1st in the WHL) and only 169 goals against(2nd in the WHL) and Everett has 172(last in the WHL) and 268(6th worst), respectively. Everett has struggled mightily in scoring goals this year and will have to hope that Lotz can stop the Hawks barrage of shots long enough for them to score.

Random Notes:
-Mac Carruth did not play in the last 3 games of the year but should be good to go on Friday according to Interim Coach Travis Green. Considering Burke's record vs. Everett, Portland should be okay even if they decide to rest him.
-It will be interesting to see if Keegan Iverson and Paul Bittner continue to play with Taylor Peters on the Hawks 3rd line or Green decides to go with Preston Kopeck and Adam De Champlain, as he did for most of the middle part of the season.
Leier in last year's playoffs
-Taylor Leier had an outstanding playoff last year, so look for him to bring the same energy this year.
-Look for the Hawks coaching staff to put the Wotherspoon-Jones and Troy Rutkowski-Derrick Pouliot pairings out there for a lot more minutes, when compared with the regular season.
-Losing to Everett even once in this series, will be perceived as a failure to the Hawks.
-Not So Bold Prediction: Hawks in 4.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jones vs. Sandhu Trade Dividends/ Wednesday News and Links

On April 23rd 2012, the Portland Winterhawks made big news when they traded for the rights to negotiate with top pro prospect 17 year old Defenseman Seth Jones, who was playing for the U.S. National Developmental Team at the time.

Shortly thereafter, Jones signed with the Hawks, irking all Everett Silvertips fans, because he had refused to sign with them despite being taken 9th overall in the 2009 Bantam draft. Tips General Manager (and now also coach) Garry Davidson, a former scout with the Hawks, knew the Hawks prospects inside and out and was able to get 4 players of his choice for Jones. These included: 16 year old Forward Tyler Sandhu, 18 year old Defenseman Ben Betker, 16 year old Forward Mitch Skapski and 18 year old D-man Reece Wilcox. These players have helped a group of players that was lacking a lot of young u[-and-coming talent and from Sandhu, Betker and Skapski, at least, have even paid some immediate dividends.

Sandhu, a 5'10" 155 lb Center, drafted 42nd overall in the 2011 Bantam Draft had 19 goals and 14 assists for 33 total points this season. He has recently gotten a lot of top line minutes with Ryan Harrison out for the Tips and has shown a ton of offensive upside.
Tyler Sandhu

Betker, a 6'5" 200 lb D-man, at 18 was not going to crack the talented Defensive group the Winterhawks have and has benefited from some time among the top 4 in Everett's Defensive pairings. He had 1 goal, 5 assists, was a -21 and had 100 pims this year. He has fit into a role as a solid defensive Defenseman for Everett, getting a lot of penalty kill minutes.
Ben Betker

Skapski, a 5'9" 150 lb left wing, has shown flashes of something good for the Tips, but only got into 34 games this season, spending most of that time on either the 3rd or 4th line. He scored 2 goals this year, including one in the last game of the season, a game in which Sandhu had a hat trick.

Reece Wilcox, an 18 year old D-man, chose to play with Cornell University after being picked in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL draft by the Flyers.

Sandhu is looking like the real deal for Everett and could be somebody Portland really regrets giving away, especially with all of those draft picks that the WHL took away from them this winter. But, Jones has been as advertised for the Hawks, after getting used to the change in play the WHL brings, he has been part of one of the best Defensive pairing Hawks fans have seen. He fit right in with Tyler Wotherspoon and has been on the ice more and more, as the season progressed. He will be key in how far the Hawks advance this year and should feed off the boos he will receive from Everett fans in the first round.

Seth Jones
Jones led rookie Defenseman in scoring 14 goals and 42 assists despite missing 11 games, some of them due to winning gold at the World Junior's. He is widely believed to be the #1 pick in this June's NHL draft and has impressed me by getting better, seemingly with each game. It's sometimes hard to believe that this young man from Plano, Texas, just turned 18 years old.

Time will tell whether or not this was a good trade for the Hawks, but if Jones leads them to a Memorial Cup winning run, it will be hard to look back and say that Portland Coach/G.M. Mike Johnston didn't win this one.

-Portland finished 2nd in the CHL top 10, finishing in the top 10, all 26 weeks of the season.
-Ryan Harrison could be out for the first round series against the Hawks, dealing another blow to their upset hopes.
-The WHL had their bantam draft drawing this morning the Regina Pats won, meaning they will get the #2 pick. Vancouver get's the #1 pick due to their record.
-Nic Petan was named CHL player of the week to go with his WHL player of the week honors.
-Piece from about Petan changing the curvature of his stick going into this year. Gee from 35 to 120 points, guess that was the right move.
 -Petan's top 10 goals video:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday News/ Links

Portland is getting ready for their first round mathcup against the Everett Silvertips starting Friday in the Rose Garden in Portland. Everett has lost in the first round of the playoffs for 5 straight seasons, including sweeps at the hands of Tri City and Portland the last 2 years. Portland has advanced past the first round for 3 straight seasons.

Portland is 9-1 against Everett this year and has outscored them 50-22 overall. The playoff schedule will be:
-Friday 7:00 pm @ Portland (Rose Garden)
-Saturday 7:00 pm @ Portland (Rose Garden)
-Wednesday(3/27) 7:05 pm @ Everett
-Friday (3/29)7:35 pm @ Everett
-Saturday (3/30)7:00 pm @ Portland (Coliseum)-if necessary
-Monday (4/1)7:05 pm @ Everett-if necessary
-Wednesday (4/3)7:00 pm @ Portland (Coliseum)-if necessary

So if it gets there, the Hawks will play games 5 and 7 in the Memorial Coliseum. All of Everett's home games will be at Comcast Arena. Portland is 5-0 at home vs. Everett and 4-1 on the road. Portland goalie Mac Carruth's leg injury is being called a :"slight muscle pull." He should be ready for Friday.

-Kelowna could be without captain Colton Scissons for some time. They have actually fared quite well without him.
Tyler Sandhu
-One of the pieces Portland gave Everett for Seth Jones last year: 16 year old Tyler Sandhu, got his first career hat trick on Sunday.
-Small Thoughts at Large has the Hawks winning in a sweep.
-In former Hawk news: Andrew Ference got a goal in the Boston Bruin's 4-1 win over Washington this weekend. Ference has 1 goal and 5 assists and is a +5 this season. The following clip is one of my favorie Ference moments:

Andrew Ference- Hawk from 1994-99

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hawks Record Setting Regular Season Comes to a Close

No recap for Saturday and Sunday night's games, as I was out of town. Here are some quick points:

Nic Petan-120 points

Brendan Leipsic 120 points

-Portland beat Seattle 6-5 in a 6 round shootout Saturday night, clinching a matchup with Everett in the 1st round. They set a franchise record for points: 115 and a WHL record for road wins: 29. Nic Petan had a goal and 4 assists, while Brendan Leipsic had a goal and an assist. Because they did not play the following night, Leipsic and Petan finished tied for the league lead in points (120 each). Leipsic won the goal scoring title with 49. Roberts Lipsbergs scored 4 times for the T-birds. Mac Carruth did not dress again, as the Hawks went with Brendan Burke, backed up by 17 year old Jared Schamerhorn. Derrick Pouliot and Chase De Leo were the shootout scorers for Portland.

-Portland followed up their record setting Saturday, with another one on Sunday. They got their 57th win of the year, which set a franchise record, by beating Spokane 6-1. Ty Rattie had a goal and 2 assists, so he finished 3rd in league scoring (110 points). Portland sat the following players: Preston Kopeck, Nic Petan, Brendan Leipsic and Derick Pouliot, in preparation for the playoffs. Portland was presented the Scotty Munro trophy for the WHL's best record before the game. Carruth again did not dress, but should be in the lineup for Friday's playoff opener vs. Everett. Oliver Bjorkstrand, with 1 goal, lead rookies in scoring this year with 31. Both Joe Mahon and Taylor Peters received 10 minute misconducts for instigating fights in the game. Spokane sat Mitch Holmberg, Alessrio Bertaggia and Brenden Kichton.

News and Links:
-Piece about what Mike Johnston's been up to this year.
-Preview of opening playoff series with Everett.

I will have an in-depth playoff preview of the series with Everett on Thursday.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hawks Beat T-Birds in a Crazy One 8-4; Tie Team Record for Points

113 points in a season had been standing as the Winterhawks team record for points until Friday night when the 2012-13 squad, setting records left and right, took down Seattle at home 8-4, tying the record.

Brendan Leipsic had a hat trick and Ty Rattie kept pace with 2 of his own as the Hawks have 2 more games Saturday and Sunday night, with the opportunity to set the team record in points and at least tie the team record in wins (56, also set by the 80-81 team). They currently have 55 wins.

The scoring was opened 11:51 into the first period, when Nic Petan found Leipsic all alone on the backdoor for a beautiful goal. Less then 6 minutes later, Leipsic picked Seattle Defenseman Shea Theodore's pocket, going in on a 2 on 1 break with Ty Rattie, before he buried it short side, beating goalie Danny Mumaugh and making it 2-0 Hawks. Seattle would finally show some life with 19.5 seconds left, when Seth Swenson buried his own rebound on the powerplay,ending the period, cutting the lead to 2-1.

Seattle would shock everyone present when they swiftly tied the score 1:20 into the 2nd period when Portland goalie Brendan Burke mis-handled the puck, leading to Swenson finding Justin Hickman all alone. Portland got that one right back 2:50 into the 2nd when Petan fed Ty Rattie between the faceoff circles for a one timer that got past Mumaugh. Seattle would answer again when Taylor Green won a battle behind the Portland net and got it to over-ager Adam Kambeitz, who banged home his 14th of the year, tying it again at 3. The game would remain tied until 2:01 left in the 2nd when Oliver Bjorkstrand stole the puck from Seattle D-man Jesse Forseberg and burst in on a 2 on 1 break with Preston Kopeck, who he used as a distraction as he buried it on the short side.The Hawks would never trail again.

The 3rd period would be as lively as a lot of 3rd periods in the lopsided years of the Seattle-Portland rivalry. Portland would quickly create some separation in the game when Taylor Peters carried in the puck short-handed, creating space for Brendan Leipsic to receive the puck one-timing it past Mumaugh, making it 5-3. Then at the 12:07 mark, Adam De Champlain threw a hard check near the Seattle bench and was jumped by Seattle captain Luke Lockhart, The fight that commenced carried into the Seattle bench, where Andrew Johnson, after the fight was over threw a hard right across De Champlain's face from the bench. Portland took advantage of the 5 on 3 powerplay scoring twice: first, Rattie got his second when Petan fed him back door. Then Tyler Wotherspoon slapped home his 7th of he year, making it 7-3. Roberts Lipsbergs got one back at the 14:25 mark, but then Joey Baker, became the last Winterhawk to score a goal this year with only 35 seconds left in the game on the powerplay, closing the scoring at 8-4.

Danny Mumauch, in for the suspended Brendan Golver, gave up 8 goals on 36 shots. Burke stopped 31 on 35.

Jesse Forseberg, Luke Lockhart, Mitch Elliot and Justin Hickman all received 10 minute game misconducts late in the 3rd and some of them could be hearing from the league next week.

3 Stars:
Brendan Leipsic
#3- Nic Petan- 3 assists in the game, all of them on beautiful feeds.
#2- Ty Rattie- 2 goals and 1 assist in the game and both goals came from Petan.
#1- Brendan Leipsic- Grabbed ahold of the WHL goal scoring lead with a hat trick in this one, keeping himself one ahead of Rattie.

Random Notes:
-Portland was 3 for 8 on the powerplay, despite not playing their top line for most of the 3rd, when they were getting a lot of pp opportunities.
-Leipsic;s short-handed goal is the 15th one that Seattle has given up this season.
-Taylor Leier and Seth Jones were both healthy scratches as coach Travis Green is going to rest a few players before the playoffs start.
-Preston Kopeck was bumped up to the 2nd line, in Leier's place and played really well, seeming to mesh with Bjorkstrand and Chase De Leo.
-Things could get harry in Seattle tomorrow night as the Hawks are playing the 2nd of aback to back with Seattle.
-Prince George lost to Kamloops 5-2, meaning that they are eliminated from the playoffs. Portland will play either Seattle or Everett in the first round.
-Everett remains 3 points back of Seattle, losing to Victoria 4-1.
-Leipsic now has 48 goals and 118 points, leading the league in both. Rattie has 47 goals and Petan has 115 points.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Top 10 Winterhawk Seasons

Every once in awhile, I will have a top 10 Winterhawk's list. My opinion is factored in these lists, as well as stats and the overall success of the team.

Because of the success of this years Portland Winterhawk's squad(going for team records in wins and points), it got me thinking about the most successful years of the franchise. Today's top 10 list will look into those teams and rank them accordingly. Note: this year was not factored into the list.

Honorable Mention:
1980-81 Season
Jim Benning
Finished the regular season second in the West Division with a 56-15-1 record for 113 points. Both wins and points still stand as franchise records. This franchise record was over shadowed by a crushing sweep from the Victoria Cougars in the Western final. This team was lead by Jim Benning and Ken Yaremchuk with 139 and 135 points respectively.

#10- 1988-89 Season
Won the regular season Western Conference title with a 40-28-4 record for 84 points. They were swept by the eventual Memorial Cup champion: Swift Current Broncos in the WHL Championship. Dennis Holland set the team record, that still stands today, when he scored 167 total points.

#9- 2000-01 Season
Marcel Hossa and Jozef Balej
Finished second in the West Division with a 37-27-5 record for 82 points. This team made a nice run to the WHL finals before falling to the 2001 Memorial Cup champion Red Deer Rebels in 6 games. This was Mike Williamson's first full year as Portland's head coach. Leading the team in scoring was Marcel Hossa with 90.

#8- 2010-11 Season
Ryan Johansen
This team would continue the Mike Johnston re-birth era with it's first 50 win season in 23 years winning the West Title with a 50-19-0-0-3 record for 103 points. This Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter lead team would make a deep playoff run before they were upset in the WHL final by the Kootenay Ice 4 games to 1.

#7- 1992-93 Season
Adam Deadmarsh
After 3 straight seasons of either missing the playoffs or losing in the first round, Adam Deadmarsh and Colin Foley lead this team to a 45-24-3 regular season record, winning the Western Conference title. They would only lose 1 game over the first 3 rounds of the playoffs, in Ken Hodge's last season behind the bench, before falling in 7 games in the WHL final to the Swift Current Broncos.

#6 1986-87 Season
Dave Archibald
They went 47-23-2 for 96 points. 17 year olds Dennis Holland and Dave Archibald would lead the Hawks to the WHL final, getting sweet revenge on the Kamloops Blazers on the way(Kamloops had ended Portland's season 3 straight years in the playoffs). They would lose in 7 games to the eventual Memorial Cup Champion: Medicine Hat Tigers.

#5 1978-79 Season
This year the WCHL would shorten it's name to the WHL and in only it's 3rd year Portland would go 49-10-13 for 111 points and win the West Division. Mike Toal, with 121 points and Perry Turnbull, with 118 points would pave the way for the Hawks to make a deep playoff run, all the way to the WHL championship where they would lose in 6 games to Brandon.

#4 2011-12 Season
Ty Rattie
 Portland finished second in the Western Conference and U.S. Division to Tri City, with a 49-19-3-1 record, but would win when it mattered, sweeping the Americans in the Western Conference Final. This would set up a match up against the Edmonton Oil Kings, where they would play an epic series that ended with Edmonton winning the 7th game at home. Ty Rattie finished 3rd in league scoring with 121 points.

#3 1981-82 Season
Ken Yaremchuk
Portland would advance to it's first Memorial Cup this year after finishing with a 46-24-2 record for 94 points, lead by Ken Yaremchuk's 157 points. They would defeat Regina in 5 games in the final heading to Hull, Quebec for the Cup. Kitchener of the OHL and Sherbrooke of the QMJHL would prove to much, however, as the Hawks would finish with a 2-2 record, losing in the tie-breaker game to Sherbrooke 7-3.

#2 1982-83 Season
Mike Vernon
A year after losing in the Memorial Cup, the Hawks would have another great season: finishing with 50-22 record for 100 points. They would advance all the way to the WHL final, before tasting defeat again, this time in the form of a 4 games to 1 loss to Lethbridge. The Hawks were hosting the Cup, however, and after taking advantage of an odd league rule and poaching the league's best goalie: Mike Vernon, they would win the Memorial Cup with an 8-3 win over the OHL's Oshawa Generals.

#1 1997-98 Season
15 season after winning their first cup, the Hawks would hoist the chalice again. This time they finished with a 53-14-5 regular season record, lead by career scoring leader Todd Robinson's 109 points and stellar play from goalie Brent Belecki. The Hawks would advance after sweeping Brandon in the WHL final and would then go on to win the Cup after defeating the OHL's Guelph Storm in overtime in the final.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Carruth Health Watch/ Thursday News and Links

No news has got to be good news considering Portland goalie Mac Carruth's injury on Tuesday night. He left the game with 9:44 left after stretching out trying to make a save on Victoria forward Logan Nelson's breakaway chance and did not come back in. The Hawks had the game in hand though and coach Travis Green could've been playing it safe with the goalie he is going with in the post season. No injury has been reported by the Winterhawks at this time.

Mac Carruth
Carruth has had an incredible season thus far and has to be in contention for Western Conference and WHL goalie of the year awards. He is second in the WHL with a 2.06 Goals Against Average and 3rd overall in Save % with .929. He also is tied for the league lead in shutouts with 7. Despite splitting time with Brendan Burke, Carruth also is one of only 8 goalies in the WHL with 30 wins (Burke has 21).

One has got to think that the Hawks will go with Burke in their 2 remaining home games: Friday vs. Seattle and Sunday vs. Spokane and if Carruth is not 100%; Saturday night in Seattle. These games, will most likely, be the last action Burke will get before next season.

Random Notes/ Links:
-With the Rutkowski signing today, the Hawks have 8 players whose rights are owned by NHL teams:
  • Goalie Mac Carruth(Chicago)- Drafted in the 7th round-2010.
  • Forward Ty Rattie(St.Louis)- Drafted in the 2nd round-2011.
  • Defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon(Calgary)- Drafted in the 2nd round-2011.
  • Defenseman Derrick Pouliot(Pittsburgh)- Drafted 8th overall-2012.
  • Forward Brendan Leipsic(Nashville)- Drafted in the 3rd round-2012.
  • Forward Taylor Leier(Philadelphia)- Drafted in the 4th round-2012.
  • Forward Taylor Peters(Dallas)- Signed by Dallas on March 4th.
  • Defenseman Troy Rutkowksi(Ottawa).
-Portland will continue to be a hot spot for NHL scouts as Seth Jones, Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Brendan Burke are all likely to be drafted in Philadelphia this June.
-The 8 players is 2nd most in the WHL to Edmonton (9).
-I guess WHL commisioner Ron Robison will not be in attendance to award the Hawks the Scotty Munro trophy for the WHL's best regular season record (Surprise, Surprise).
-Carruth has kept his head in the game more this year, allowing him to have a career year.
-Portland's first round opponent has yet to be decided. Prince George is still 4 points back of Everett for the 8th seed with 3 games left for both teams. Seattle has 2 games left, but has clinched a spot, being 7 points ahead of P.G. and 3 of Everett for the 7th seed. Portland is 9-1 vs. Everett, 4-0 vs, P.G. and 8-2 vs. Seattle (2 games left vs. the T-birds).
-Seattle's Brendan Glover will be serving the 2nd game of his 2 game suspension Friday in Portland, meaning the Hawks will most likely get rookie goalie Danny Mumaugh. Glover was suspended for charging down the ice and fighting Everett goalie Austin Lotz, despite an official's attempts to stop the fight.
-In former Hawk news: Defenseman William Wrenn scored his 2nd of the year for the AHL's Texas Stars in a 4-3 win over Abbotsford.
William Wrenn Hawk from 2010-12

Rutkowski Signs with Senators

The Ottawa Senators made it official today, when they signed Portland's Captain; overage Defenseman Troy Rutkowski to a 3 year entry level deal.

Rutkowski was drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft by the Colorado Avalanche, but became a free agent last year when the Avs chose not to sign him.

Troy, signed one week after Taylor Peters inked a deal with the Dallas Stars, is having his best offensive season to date with 20 goals and 41 assists. He has had at least 45 points in 4 of his 5 seasons in junior hockey. 

Troy Rutkowski: new Ottawa Senator
Rutkowski set the team record for games played when he reached 327 in January. He currently is sitting at 348 games played including 237 games in a row. He missed one game over the last 4 years and that was to attend a pro prospect game.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Portland Ties WHL Record with Win at Victoria 4-1

Portland tied the WHL record for road wins in a season at 28 with a 4-1 win in Victoria on Tuesday night. The Hawks will get a chance to break the record on Saturday night in Seattle.

With the win the Hawks sweep the season series with Victoria 4 games to 0, outscoring them by least 3 goals in each game.

It was Victoria, however, that showed a lot of jump in the first period getting 7 of the first 10 total shots and forcing Hawks starting goalie Mac Carruth to make several big stops.They would open the scoring with 28 seconds left in the opening period, when 19 year old winger Taylor Crunk shot the puck from below the goal line off of Portland Defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon's skate and past Carruth for his 3rd of the year and just his first goal since December 28th 2012.

The Winterhawks would come to life in the 2nd period out-shooting the Royals 17-4 and snapping the twine 4 times.

Ty Rattie, with his 45th of the year, would tie the game when he snapped a shot over Victoria goalie Coleman Vollrath's right shoulder from the left faceoff circle on the powerplay.

Then 10:21 into the period 16 year old Dominic Turgeon scored his 3rd of the year off a nice backdoor feed from enforcer Joe Mahon. Brendan Leipsic, not to be outdone by Rattie made it 3-1 with his 45th of the year, one timing a slick pass from Nic Petan off the rush. To close out the scoring in the period and the game, Taylor Peters would score on a shorthanded breakaway, off a great feed from Taylor Leier.

Portland Interim Coach Travis Green
The  Hawks would predominately send out their 3rd and 4th lines in the 3rd period, content to ice the game. This was tested, however, when Victoria's Logan Nelson picked off a Josh Hanson cross-ice pass and appeared to file it top shelf past Carruth. Portland coach Travis Green, upset by the call, asked it to be reviewed and was rewarded when the replay clearly showed the puck going off the cross bar and out. The goal was dis-allowed, helping the protect the Winterhawk's 3 goal lead to close out the game.

Carruth stopped 20 of 21 shots and Brendan Burke came in to make 5 saves on 5 shots. Coleman Vollrath stopped 40 of the 44 shots he faced.

3 Stars:
#3- Derrick Pouliot- 1 assist and proved he is nearing 100% with several beautiful plays on a 4 on 4 in the 3rd period.
#2- Mac Carruth- Set the tone for the Hawks early with several key stops and his only blemish was off his own team-mate.
#1- Ty Rattie- 1 goal and 1 assist in another multi-point night. Rattie, with the 2 points is now 6th all time in franchise scoring with 342 points.

Random Notes:
-Tyler Wotherspoon, on his 20th birthday was +1, to make him +60 on the year (2nd behind Petan's +64).
-Victoria goalie Patrick Polivka is out for the nest couple weeks with a lower body injury.
-Second night in a row for the Hawks to get 44 shots against the Royals.
-Carruth left after Nelson hit the post, when he appeared to strain something. He was spotted bent over in the tunnel leading to the locker room.
-Seattle wrapped up a playoff spot for the first time in 3 years with an 8-3 win over Tri City.
-Saskatoon came back to beat Edmonton 3-2 in the shootout, in a matchup of the top 2 teams in the East.
-Saskatoon's Josh Nicholls is tied with the Hawks top line(Rattie, Leipsic and Petan) for most goals in the league. All four players have 45 goals.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Final Week for Scoring Chases

Brenden Leipsic
The Hawks have several players involved in scoring races with only one week of action left in the regular season. Below are the scoring races:

Overall Points:
  1. Brendan Leipsic(Portland) 4 Games Left- 44G- 70A- 113 Points
  2. Nic Petan(Portland)          4 Games Left- 45G- 66A- 111 Points 
  3. Colin Smith(Kamloops)     2 Games Left- 41G- 62A- 103 Points
  4. Ty Rattie(Portland)           4 Games Left- 44G- 58A- 102 Points
  5. Justin Feser(Tri City)        4 Games Left- 42G- 59A- 101 Points
  1. Nic Petan(Portland)           4 Games Left- 45G
  2. Josh Nicholls(Saskatoon)   3 Games Left- 45G
  3. Brendan Leipsic(Portland)  4 Games Left- 44G
  4. Adam Lowry(Swift Curr.)  2 Games Left- 44G
  5. Ty Rattie(Portland)            4 Games Left- 44G
Goals by a Defenseman:
  1. Darren Dietz(Saskatoon)     3 Games Left- 23G
  2. Brenden Kichton(Spokane)  4 Games Left- 22G
  3. Troy Rutkowski(Portland)    4 Games Left- 20G
Points by a Rookie:
  1. Oliver Bjorkstrand(Portland) 4 Games Left- 29G- 31A- 60 Points
  2. Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert)3 Games Left- 20G- 36A- 56 Points
  3. Seth Jones(Portland)            4 Games Left- 13G- 41A- 54 Points
  4. Brayden Point(Moose Jaw)   3 Games Left- 20G- 33A- 53 Points
The other chase to keep an eye on is that for the 7th and 8th playoff seeds in the Western Conference. Portland will play the 8th seed, starting on Friday March 22nd at home.

7. Seattle- 3 Games Left 23-37-7-2 55 Points(3/12 vs. Tri City, 3/15 @ Portland, 3/16 vs. Portland)
8. Everett- 3 Games Left 24-39-2-4 54 Points(3/15 @ Victoria, 3/16 vs. Victoria, 3/17 vs. Tri City)
9. Prince George- 4 Games Left 21-39-2-6 50 Points(3/12 @ Spokane, 3/14 @ Kelowna, 3/15 @ Kamloops, 3/16 vs. Kamloops)

De Leo Nets First Hat Trick as the Hawks Beat Victoria 5-2

It was a career night for Center-man Chase De Leo, as he scored 3 times, for his first career hat trick. Taylor Leier added 4 assists and Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seth Jones both had a goal and an assist. The Hawks, with the win have clinched first place in the Western Conference and the Scotty Munro Trophy for first overall in the WHL, by way of having the tie-breaker over Edmonton(overall wins).

It started out easy for the Hawks and then, like usual, they made it interesting for themselves. Just 3:34 into the game, after a weird icing committed by the Royals, Leier sent a great pass to Oliver Bjorkstrand in front of the net. Bjorkstrand wristed it by Victoria Goalie Coleman Volrath's blocker to open the scoring. It could have been much worse for the Royals, but Volrath made several spectacular saves, highlighted by two big ones, minutes apart on WHL leading scorer Brendan Leipsic. Not to be outdone, Hawks Goalie Brendan Burke made, probably his best save of the year, on Jamie Crooks with his glove as he was down and out of the play.

After Volrath made a few more great saves, the Hawks finally beat him again with Leier, De Leo and Bjorkstrand busting in on a 3 on 1 break. Leier found De Leo, who went backhand past the glove of Volrath to make it 2-0. The turning point in the game happened next, as Brendan Burke made a great save on Brandon Magee on a breakaway and the Hawks scored moments later on a delayed penalty. Seth Jones came on as the extra attacker and was found by Ty Rattie crashing the net. He made no mistake as he beat Volrath to make it 3-0 heading into the 3rd period.

Burke's shutout would get broken up by 19 year old Forward Logan Nelson 7:47 into the third. Nelson was one on one with Hawks D-man Troy Rutkowski on the far boards and fired a shot past Burke into the top corner. Portland would get it back less then 3 minutes later when Leier found De Leo with a sweet pass to the front of the net. De Leo then netted his second of the game and 16th on the year. Defenseman Joe Hicketts would then make his argument to be included on the WHL highlights of the week reel after getting knocked down twice on a rush before scoring from his knees. It was suddenly a game: 4-2 with 1:21 left in the game.

Chase De Leo would have none of that on his night, however, as he intercepted a pass at center ice and fired into the gaping net, vacated by Volrath for the extra attacker.

3 Stars:
#3- Seth Jones- 1 Goal and 1 assist, but again it was more about the work that him and Tyler Wotherspoon did on the top line for the opponent. This time shutting down the Ben Walker-Jamie Crooks-Brandon Magee unit.
#2- Taylor Leier- 4 Assists for Leier for the 2nd time this year, as he had 2 Goals and 4 Assists @Spokane last month.
#1- Chase De Leo- Has gone long stretches this year without goals, despite playing on a talented line, so it's great to see him bust loose with his first hat trick.
Chase De Leo

Notes and Links:
-Victoria has already been locked into a rematch of last year's playoff series with Kamloops. They were swept last year by the Blazers and will have to play their home games in a much smaller venue then the Save-on-Foods Memorial Center. They have to vacate for the Curling Finals.
-More insanity to recap this week as Everett and Seattle got into a line brawl and a linesman got in the way.
-Joe Mahon got into the lineup again for the Hawks and played on a makeshift 4th line with Adam De Champlain and Preston Kopeck. 16 year olds Keegan Iverson and Paul Bittner played up on the 3rd line with over-age Taylor Peters.
-Coach Travis Green seems to be trying to make a choice between Kirill Vorobev and Shaun MacPherson for the 6th Defenseman spot. Vorobev plays a sounder defensive game but MacPherson seems to offer more offensive upside.
-The Hawks team record for team points in a season in 113 by the 1980-81 squad. They have an opportunity for as many as 117(109 with 4 games to play). The 80-81 team also has the team record for wins with 56. The Hawks currently have 53.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Portland vs. Victoria Preview

Portland (52-12-1-2, 107 pts, 1st in the WHL) @ Victoria (33-28-2-5, 73 pts, 6th in the West)
Sunday 5:05 pm and Tuesday 7:05 pm

The Winterhawks, after having the last 4 nights off, get back to work against the Royals in Victoria tonight and then again on Tuesday. The Hawks won back to back 6-2 games in early November against the Royals at home.

Victoria has won only once in their last 13 games, during which they have been missing some of their best players. They were forced to play 16 skaters on Wednesday vs. Kelowna, because of injuries and suspensions. Tonight, they should still be without Forwards: Alex Gogolev (leading the team with 65 points),Trent Lofthouse (16 total points) and Defenseman and Captain Tyler Stahl, to injuries and Forward Tim Traber to suspension.

Royals to Watch:
Patrik Polivka
#15- Jamie Crooks- He leads the Royals in Goals with 33 and has 5 points in his last 6 games.
#33- Patrik Polivka- Has had a roller-coaster season for the Royals, stealing a game one night and getting lit up the next. His season stats are not that impressive: 3.24 GAA and .894 Save Percentage, but he is 28-16 overall, so his team definitely had a better chance of winning with him in the net.
#5- Keegan Kanzig- As his 2 misconducts and suspension earlier this week will attest, his likes to stir things up a bit. He leads the team with 155 PIMs, but will be relied upon to throw his 6'5" 238 lb frame around, to slow down the Hawks.

Random Notes:
Portland is looking to add a couple more to their team record for road wins(26) and possibly get closer to breaking the WHL record for road wins (28 by the 1999-2000 Calgary Hitmen and 2008-09 Saskatoon Blades). The Hawks have only 3 road games left, so they will need to win them all to tie.
-While they were resting, other teams and players were busy trying to catch the Hawks, as a team and as individuals. Edmonton 3-2 won in a shootout in Brandon on Friday, giving them 103 points, 4 back of the Hawks. Kelowna swept their weekend series with Kamloops, putting them within 5 points of the Hawks (Portland has 2 games in hand). Kelowna also wrapped up the B.C. Division with these victories. After scoring 2 on Friday and 1 on Saturday, Saskatoon's Josh Nicholls is now at 45 Goals, tying him for first in the league with Nic Petan. Leipsic and Petan are still 1-2 on overall points with 113 and 111 respetively.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Top 10 Import Players in Winterhawks History

Every once in awhile, I will have a top 10 Winterhawks list. My opinion is factored in these lists, as well as stats and the overall success of the team.

First up: the CHL has held an import draft since 1992 and the Winterhawks have had many great players come to them from overseas. I put a minimum requirement of half a season (36 games), so recent Hawks Luca Sbisa and Marcel Noebels are not eligible. I also did not factor in current Hawks imports Oliver Bjorkstrand and Kirill Vorobev, as their seasons are not complete. This list is my opinion on the top 10 of these import players:

Honorable Mentions:
Jakub Klepis
-Jakub Klepis (2001-02) Klepis was slected 36th overall as a 17 year old from Prague, Czech Republic in the 2001 import draft. He had an immediate impact scoring 64 points in 70 games. He had great chemistry with fellow Czech native Jozef Balej and it helped carry the Hawks into the playoffs (they would lose in 7 games to Seattle in the 1st round). Klepis was selected 16th overall by Ottawa, but would not come back to the Hawks for the 02-03 season, instead leaving to play professionally in his homeland. He would play 66 games over 2 seasons in the NHL, before going back to Europe, where he still plays professionally.

#10: Ondrej Vesely (1996-98)
Ondrej Vesely
-Vesely was selected 47th overall in the 1996 import draft as an 18 year old from the Czech Republic. In his first year he had 53 points in 72 games. Vesely was a force for the Hawks and most fans were shocked when Vesely was traded to the Tri City Americans just 8 games into the 1997-98 season. This trade set the Hawks up to bring Marian Hossa over. Vesely would finish out the 1998 season with the Ams before heading back home and playing 14 pro seasons (including this year) in the Czech pro league.

#9: Jannik Hansen (2005-06)
Jannik Hansen
-Hansen was selected 33rd overall in the 2005 import draft, breaking the mold, as he was the Hawk's first pick from outside Slovakia, Czech Republic and Russia. Hansen had already been selected in the 9th round by the Vancouver Canucks in the 04 NHL draft. He would prove Hawk's management right in bringing him over, when he had 64 points in 64 regular season games and 13 pts in 12 playoff games. Unfortunately, he was a 20 year old for the next season and was brought up to the AHL. Hansen, currently plays for the Canucks and has 116 points in 293 NHL games.

#8: Nino Niederreiter (2009-11)
Nino Niederreiter
-El Nino' was immediately a hit with the Hawks after he was picked 2nd overall out of Switzerland in the 09 draft. He helped turn around the franchise, scoring 60 points in 65 games played in his first year and returning the Hawks to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They would even advance to the 2nd round before being ousted by Vancouver in 6 games. Nino then followed up his sensational rookie year with 70 points in 55 games in 2010-11. This time he would help the Hawks to the WHL finals with 27 points. Nino was drafted 5th overall in 2010 draft by the New York Islanders. This, so far, has been to his detriment as the Islanders played him as 1 19 year old, on the 4th line for 55 games in the 2011 season, despite the fact that he had only 1 goal. This year he is leading their AHL affiliate in points with 41 points in 55 games.

#7: Marcel Hossa (1998-2001)
Marcel Hossa
-Hossa followed his older brother over to the Hawks after being picked 13th overall in the 98 import draft. Though comparisons to his older brother were inevitably made, he never quite lived up to these expectations. The younger Hossa's big issue was that he could dominate one game then not show up for the next one. He did, however have 164 points over 3 seasons with the Hawks. He was drafted 16th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2000 draft. Hossa had 61 points over 237 NHL games and is currently playing in the KHL

#6: Andrej Podkonicky (1996-98)
Andrej Podkonicky
-Podkonicky was drafted 20th overall out of Slovakia in the 1996 import draft. Podko would have 145 points over 2 seasons with the Hawks and help them capture the 1998 Memorial Cup. His chemistry with Marian Hossa would be one of the reasons the Hawks were able to make this deep run. Andrej was picked in the 8th round of the 1996 NHL draft and scored 1 goal in 8 NHL games. After 13 professional seasons Andrej hung up the skates in 2012.

#5: Sven Bartschi (2010-12)
Sven Bartschi
-The Swiss sensation followed El Nino' over after the Hawks took him 7th overall in the 2010 import draft. He immediately had chemistry with linemate Ty Rattie and formed a formidable 2nd line for the Hawks in the 2010-11 season. Bartschi had 84 points over 66 games and helped the Hawks to the WHL finals. He would repeat this performance the next year, scoring an impressive 94 pts in only 47 games. He then had 37 points in the playoffs, helping the Hawks again win the Western Conference title. Bartschi was picked 13th overall in the 2011 draft by the Calgary Flames and has 4 points over 15 games in the NHL.

#4: Jiri Bereanek (1991-93)
-Bereanek came to the Hawks out of Slovakia, the year before the first import draft. He has the 2nd most points(180) by an imported Hawk and the most assists (124). He was known for his slick puck-handling and ice vision during his 2 years with the Hawks. Beranek never played in the NHL but had a successful career overseas, playing until 2006.

#3: Jozef Balej (1999-2002)
Jozef Balej
-Balej came over to the Hawks out of Slovakia, the 18th overall selection in the 99 import draft. Jozef was fun to watch, with his explosive speed and aggressive play. Balej has the most points(190) and the most Goals(105) by an import player in Winterhawks history. Joe was picked 78th overall in the 2000 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens and would play 18 NHL games, netting 6 points. He is currently still playing in the Czech pro league where he continues to be a dangerous scorer.

#2: Richard Zednik (1994-96)
Richard Zednik
-Zed was one of the most talented players to ever put on a Winterhawks sweater. Zednik was picked out of, surprise surprise, Slovakia 18th overall in the 94 import draft. He had 167 points over 2 seasons and if not for the player I ranked above him, would easily be my favorite Hawk import. Zednik, after being drafted 249th overall in 1994 by Washington, would have 379 points in the NHL in 745 career games, before hanging up the skates in 2011. He was the victim of a dangerous skate cut to the throat from teammate Oli Jokinen in 2008, but amazingly returned to play another season for the Florida Panthers. Him returning says all that needs to be said about his tenacity and perseverance and why he was fun to cheer for.

#1: Marian Hossa (1997-98)
Marian Hossa
-Hossa, picked 5th overall in the 1997 import draft, came over and became one of the most dominant players in Hawks history. He was already an NHL pick before he came to the Hawks (12th overall by Ottawa in the 1997 draft) and was told to ply his trade in the WHL to get him used to the rougher play that he would see at the NHL level. He hardly seemed like he needed it, scoring 85 points in 45 games in dominating fashion. Many were the time when I saw him dance around several Defensemen before sniping the puck past a hopeless Goaltender. His play would carry the Hawks to the Memorial Cup title game, where he was injured by a vicious knee on knee hit late. The Hawks, after winning in overtime, would hand him the cup and push him around the ice, while he sat on a chair (video below). Hossa would recover from the injury and has played over 1,000 games in the NHL. He is nearing the 1,000 point threshold and also helped the Chicago Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup in 2010. Even though he only played one season for the Hawks, he has to be one of the most talented players I've ever seen in person and that is why he ranks #1, in my book.