It was not a pretty game for Portland, as they opened the Tri City American's Red Lion Preseason Tournament with an 8-2 loss to the Everett Silvertips.
Here are some random notes to take away from today's defeat:
-Adin Hill was a lot shakier than his last outing, where he let up only one goal. As is the case with most Goaltenders his age (17), he seemed to lose confidence after the Defense hung him out to dry on the first few goals and he gave up a few poor ones after that. Hill really seems to feed off the energy of the team and when it started to get a little lop-sided, he seemed to lose confidence. On Everett's 5th goal, Hill let out a huge rebound and on their 7th goal, he was badly out of position. Both the rebound issue and the position issue can be corrected with experience and confidence. Both are things that he will get with time if he wins the backup Goaltending job over Jared Schammerhorn.
-20 year old Adam Rossignol, has been pushing to make the team and taking up one of their three 20 year old spots. What I saw today did not leave me impressed whatsoever. Adam is a Left Wing and in order to make a WHL club as a 20 year old, he will need to take a top 6 forward position. As a Winger, who does not play a lot of penalty kill time, he does not bring the attributes that say a Taylor Peters brought to the Hawks last year. I would be surprised if Adam hangs onto a spot on the Winterhawks roster, as soon as they start getting some bodies back from NHL camps. It would seem that the Hawks coaching staff shares my opinion as they played him on the 3rd line today with Ethan Price and Preston Kopeck.
-One guy who got a lot more playing time today was #41 Steven Aldridge, a 17 year old from the Northwest Territory of Canada. They grow them large up there, as he is 6’3” 200 lbs and does not seem afraid to throw the body around at all. He definitely could use more time getting used to his growing frame, as his skating was not that impressive and his positioning was even worse, but at 17 that’s something he should be able to figure out.
-The line of Dominic Turgeon, Keegan Iverson and Paul Bittner looked great and was used mostly as the Hawk’s top line. They scored a power play goal early, before they were split up in the 3rd period. Bittner continues to raise my eyebrows as he is just a physical specimen out there, creating all kinds of space for his teammates in a similar way that Jaromir Jagr has done for years at the NHL level.
-All of the Hawks young Defensemen made miscues in this one, several of directly led to Silvertips goals or scoring chances. The most egregious of these were plays made by Zach Paterson, Jordan Davies and Justin Greer. Davies and Greer can be excused to some extent as they are pretty far down the Hawk’s depth chart (in my opinion), but Paterson needs to be better in his own zone, or his Goaltenders will start to stare holes in the back of head.
-It is already apparent that new/old Everett Coach Kevin Constantine is making an immediate impact as the Winterhawks easily made 10 more defensive zone errors than the Tips. Constantine has long been known as an elite defensive coach with an NHL pedigree.
-Josh Hanson is making strides, which will be badly needed as he is one of only two top five D-men from last year’s team coming back. Hanson made an excellent play in this one after his D-partner made a bad play: he hustled back and tied up the Everett forward’s stick, taking away a break away.
-Keoni Texeira continues to make a case for a spot somewhere in the pecking order on the Hawk’s defense, as he was their most consistent Defensemen, outside of Hanson in this game. He made a fantastic outlet pass leading to a goal by Chase De Leo (the Hawks only other goal in the game).
-Skyler McKenzie, all 5’5” of him, seemed a little more comfortable playing the up-tempo game against Spokane last weekend than the slower game that was inevitable with all of the Hawk’ stars missing. That being said, McKenzie made several good plays, including a great back-checking play that took away a late scoring chance. Great back-checking is something that will definitely ingratiate him with the Hawk’s Coaching staff.
Overall, it was a day mostly to forget for the young Hawks that were out there, but it was a great learning opportunity for them moving forward.