Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Portland vs. Kamloops Recap/ Observations

The Portland Winterhawks proved once again on Saturday night that when their offense is at it's best, they can dominate teams. Despite the 7-4 score (Portland's 7th goal was an empty netter), the Hawks dominated throughout the game, getting 3 goal leads 2 different times, before finally slamming the lid on the over-matched Blazers.

Observations From the Game:
-There was plent to find fault with on the Hawk's end, as their Defense made a couple costly errors leading to scoring chances. One in particular led to a Chase Souto, 2nd period break-away goal.
-Derrick Pouliot was fantastic for perhaps the first time since coming back to the Hawks. He scored twice: once on a water bottle breaking snipe on the power play and once on an empty netter. It wasn't just about the goals though as his outlet passes were superb and the power play finally clicked under his command.
-The power play finally seems like they have been practicing some plays in practice, as they looked much better moving the puck around and had countless chances rings off a post or just miss. It ended up going 2/6 on the night.
-Brendan Leipsic seems to be desperate to make a strong impact on his team. He shot, probably 7 times in the first period and seemed to shoot every time he got near the net. It worked as he got his second tally of the year in the second, giving the Hawks a 3-1 lead.
-Adam Rossignol, the over-ager, who against odds has made the lineup thus far, banged in his first as a Winterhawk, after a mad scramble in front was created by Taylor Leier. Rossignol really seems to be a good locker room guy and does a lot of the little things well. We will see if this is enough to keep him in town, once the Paul Bittner's and Shane McColgan's get back in the lineup.
-Leier is taking sacrifice and leadership to a new level this season, as he took a slap shot off the wrist, went to get it checked out and came right back in. This is the second time Leier has been banged up this season and he has not missed much time because of them. Compile this with his concussion suffered in the Memorial Cup last season and Leier has withstood a lot for his team.
-Alex Schoenborn was one of the lone bright spots for the Hawks in the 2 games up in Kelowna and he continued his strong play, potting his 5th of the season on the power play and creating more chances with his nifty stick work. I lambasted him in the preseason and start of the regular season, because it appeared he had little play-making ability, as the play seemed to die on his stick most of the time, but boy was I wrong. Schoenborn has shown a nice shot and has stick-handled his way into quite a few scoring chances. I've never been so happy being wrong.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his team leading 10th of the season (2nd in the WHL behind Mitch Holmberg's 12), on a short handed penalty shot after he was hooked by Blazer's D-man Jordan Thomson. Bjorkstrand was even with Thomson when he retrieved the puck, then just blew by him, showcasing the otherworldly speed that has fans in Columbus excited. Bjorkstrand added 2 assists on the night and is currently 4th in WHL scoring with 18 points.
-Brendan Burke was pretty terrible in this one, as the Blazers first 2 goals can be attributed to bad angles that he took on shots. Burke was extremely solid in the early going this season, but was plagued by terrible Defensive play from the guys in front of him. Now he seems to be shaky confidence wise and is sitting too far back in his net. Burke ended up stopping 22 of 26 shots.
-Portland chased Taran Kozun with 12:45 left in the 2nd period, after scoring 5 times. Pouliot's cousin: Bolton came in for the rest of the game and played well after giving up the goal to Schoenborn, stopping 12 of the 13 shots he faced.
-Anton Cederholm seems to slowly be working his way into a role as the Hawk's top penalty killing Defenseman, as he continues to get first penalty kill unit time and has played admirably in that role. I was un-certain initially about Cederholm as his positioning was pretty terrible to start the season, but he has improved dramatically as he adjusts to the North American style of play.
-Kamloops looks like they will struggle for most of the year this year, as the trades they made over the last 2 years, trying to make a cup run, have back-fired now.They appear to be lacking talent. In particular: sending off Defensemen: Brady Gaudet and Tyler Bell and Forward: Rob Trzonkowski appears to have hurt their depth at both positions. Then they traded over-age Goalie Cole Cheveldave before the season, placing their hopes in '94 born Taran Kozun.
-Next game for the Hawks goes Wednesday at home vs. Tri City.

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