Portland celebrated getting players back last week by landing 7 of a possible 8 points in a difficult 4 games in 5 games stretch. This had to be difficult on Nic Petan, Taylor Leier and Derrick Pouliot especially, as they were at the World Juniors, away from their families during the holidays. Coach/GM Mike Johnston decided to give these 3 players a break from practices this week, by letting them head home and spend some quality time with their loved ones.
They are back in town now and were joined by new addition Matt Dumba. Dumba looks to make his debut with the Winterhawks after spending some time recuperating from a shoulder injury and an illness he acquired at the World Juniors in Sweden.
For his debut, Dumba will get to face a familiar foe to him: the Moose Jaw Warriors. He has 5 goals and 4 assists in 13 career games against the Warriors.
7pm Friday vs. Moose Jaw (13-25-3-3, 32 pts, 5th in the East Division and 10th in Eastern Conference):
-Moose Jaw is in the middle of a rebuild after making a run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2012. This was forced a little further, by the fact that Morgan Rielly, the 4th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, has spent his entire 19 year old season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is likely he would've been traded, but M.J. was robbed of getting future considerations, by Toronto making it clear that he would not be sent down.
Players to Watch:
Leads the team with 44 points in 42 games, in his draft year. He was listed 53rd in the CSS draft ranking released this week and was a injury substitution for the CHL Top Prospect Game on Wednesday. He is on a bit of tear recently with 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 5 games.
#1- Justin Paulic: Paulic is in his draft year and was recently ranked 13th among North American Goalie prospects. His numbers aren't great at 3.64 GAA and .890 Save %, but he has been playing behind a very young Defense. His numbers were also affected by his last 6 games in which he has given up a total of 24 goals. Paulic had to carry most of the goaltending burden the last couple weeks as 16 year old backup Zach Sawchenko played for Team Pacific at the U-17s.
-Moose Jaw has also been hampered by a lack of scoring, as only 9 skaters have more than 7 points this season.
-Defensemen Dallas Valentine (109) and Alexey Sleptsov (143) were also ranked in the CSS draft rankings.
-Playing in Portland will be the first game of their 5 game U.S. Division stretch over 7 days this week.