Portland got 3 points out of a very up and down weekend that saw them dominate parts of games and then fall asleep for just long enough for the opposing teams to take advantage. It probably did not help that this, second portion, of the Alberta Eastern swing, came against 2 teams in Edmonton and Calgary that are probably the best the Conference has to offer and another in Red Deer that has a solid Goaltender and are desperately trying to cling to playoff hopes. It was also Teddy Bear toss night both Friday and Saturday nights in Edmonton and Red Deer, bing enthusiastic crowds to cheer against the Hawks.
|Leier- 2 Goals vs. Edmonton|
Portland 4 @ Edmonton 5-SO (Friday)
-Portland got off to a quick start in their first of 3 games in 3 nights, probably hoping to surprise the Oil Kings with their speed and puck control. They did take advantage somewhat with an early goal by Nic Petan, but after the Oil Kings's defense got it's feet under them and Goaltender Tristan Jarry made a couple solid saves, the Oil Kings took over. They turned the Hawks puck control style against themselves and created a lot of traffic in front leading to a 3-1 lead, 2 goals of which came from Defensemen. After going down by a 2 goal margin, the Hawks seemed to finally respond and Chase De Leo scored a goal, that I still do not understand why it was disallowed. This seemed to fire up the Hawks even more and Derrick Pouliot scored on a point shot making it a 3-2 game. Edmonton's Edgars Kulda then somehow squirted one past Burke, on a terrible goal given up by the 18 year old net-minder and it was back to a 4-2 game. Then in one of the most thrilling comebacks this year by the Hawks, Taylor Leier (on a mission) scored 2 late goals, knotting it up and preserving one point form a mostly lackluster night out of Portland. The Hawks, despite creating more chances in the over-time session ended up losing in a 4 round circus, as Jarry stood tall vs. 3 of the Hawk's shooters.
|Leipsic- 2 Goals 1 Assist vs. Red Deer|
Portland 5@ Red Deer 4 (Saturday)
-Too many times this year has Portland been the far better team talent wise, jumped out to an early lead and then let the inferior team get back into the game. I would like to see far more closing out of teams by the Hawks then they have shown so far this year. This is exactly the case in the game at Red Deer Saturday night. Chase De Leo scored 9 seconds in and Portland appeared to be off to the races, as the top 2 lines created a load more chances, resulting in Brendan Leipsic finding Paul Bittner in front and then Petan locating Leipsic on the power play with a wicked back door feed, giving the Hawks 3 goals in the first off of 13 shots in the first. Red Deer's Goalie: Patrik Bartosak actually played really well in the loss for Red Deer, making the key saves to keep the game close in the first. Shane McColgan then notched his first point in a Winterhawk's jersey when he found Alex Schoenborn on a nifty play, giving the Hawks a brief 4-1 lead in the second. The the wheels started to fall off for Portland. They allowed significant chances through lackluster defense and backup Goalie Jarrod Schamerhorn, despite an overall subpar outing, saved the Hawks with a few key stops. Leipsic would score the eventual game winner off a feed from Bittner late in the second, showing that he can sometimes be just as nifty with the puck as his much smaller line mates. Taylor Leier left the game in the second period with flu like symptoms and those would keep him out of the lineup the next night in Calgary. I am starting to realize just how important a player like Leier has become to the Hawks.
|Driedger- 24 Saves vs. Portland|
Portland 1@ Calgary 4 (Sunday)
-Just like Friday's game, the Hawks took it right to a very good defenseive team in Calgary, resulting in an early goal from Oliver Bjorkstrand off a fantastic pass form behind the net by Leier's replacement on the second line: McColgan. That would be all the goals Portland would score though as Calgary Goalie Chris Driedger recovered to play a fantastic game between the pipes, stoning the Hawk's forwards on countless high quality scoring chances. Calgary may have "out shot" Portland 33-25 but I would argue the Portland had far more Grade "A" chances than the Hitmen. One of those was a Nic Petan short-handed break-away that he somehow could not get past the Goalie in the second period. On the (non-empty netter) goals for Calgary, Portland proved that they are not over their early habit of poor defensive positioning. Pouliot was badly out of position on their first 2 goals and somehow a 1-0 Portland lead with not much time left in the second turned into a 3-1 Hitmen lead only a minute into the third. That kind of let down is definitely worrisome in a team that looks to be making a playoff run.
Portland's next game is this Friday in Seattle, where they will see yet another opponent's Teddy Bear toss before having their own Saturday, again vs. Seattle.