Monday, March 11, 2013

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.

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