Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hawks Own Spokane Again 6-3; Are 5-0 This Season Vs. Chiefs

The one team the Portland Winterhawks seem to have figured out this season is the Spokane Chiefs. After beating them 6-3 in Spokane on Friday night, they have won the first 5 games of an 8 game season series with them this year. Also, if you include the playoff sweep from last year and the end of last season, Portland has won 13 in a row over the Chiefs. Portland was led in this game by Oliver Bjorkstrand's first hat trick of the season and the 3rd of his career. Amazingly one of his other two hat tricks also came vs. Spokane last season, when he scored 4 Goals. Paul Bittner also added 3 assists and 11 Hawks notched at least one point in the win. The Hawks were able to overcome Mitch Holmberg's 3rd hat trick this season in the victory, out shooting the Chiefs 33-26 for the road victory.

Brendan Burke 23 of 26 shots and made several great saves, after costly turnovers given up by Brendan Leipsic and Anton Cederholm; among others. Eric Williams stopped 27 of 32 in the loss for Spokane.

Observations From the Game:
-Portland scored first from an excellent power play goal from their second unit, when Dominic Turgeon found the rebound off a Paul Bittner shot. Keegan Iverson then gave the Hawks a 4-2 lead in the second with another goal from the second power play unit. This unit is really starting to click chemistry wise and through the first two periods anyways, was creating more chances during their power play time. Consistent scoring from this unit will allow the Hawks to more evenly distribute the time allowign more rest time for the top unit.
-This was especially important this night, as 4 of the 5 players from that unit (Taylor Leier, Brendan Leipsic, Nic Petand and Derrick Pouliot) were playing their 3rd game in a row after playing in the Subway Super Series up in Alberta.
-They were a part of the victorious WHL team, that won the deciding game of the series 4-2 in Lethbridge over a team of Russian select players. Pouliot had a goal and an assist in the 4-2 come from behind win.
-Pouliot, Petan and Leier all played great for the team and could be setting themselves up to play in the 2013-13 World Junior Championships in Sweden, December 26th-January 5th.
-Getting the secondary scoring they got in this game will be crucial, should these 3 players or perhaps more, miss a large amount of time.
-Adam Hascic received a checking from behind penalty in the second period and could hear from the league, suspension wise, after checking Steven Alldridge of the Hawks dangerously along the boards in the 3rd period.
-Portland got within one point of Everett for first in the WHL,Western Conference and the U.S. Division with the win (42-41) and created more distance between themselves and Spokane, who dropped to 6 points back for second the the U.S. with 35 points.
-Elsewhere in the U.S. Division, Seattle ousted, Portland's next opponent the Saskatoon Blades, 6-2 behind 5 points from Alexander Delnov and Tri City lost to Victoria at home 3-1.

3 Stars:
#3- Paul Bittner- 3 assists for the big guy and he seemed to actually carry the top line at times with his fresh legs.
#2- Mitch Holmberg- 3 hat tricks on the year and now 30 goals. He has a 9 point lead on Petan again for the WHL points lead(64-55), as Petan only had 1 point in the game.
#1- Oliver Bjorkstrand- Hat trick for Bjorkstrand, allowed him to leap frog Joshua Winquist of Everett for 3rd overall in points with 48.

A much needed day off for the Hawks, as they head back home to take on the Saskatoon Blades at 5pm at the Moda Center Sunday night, before they take their second Alberta bound road trip.

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