Monday, October 27, 2014

A Changed Team? Hawks Win 2 Straight to Close Out Trip

The Portland Winterhawks closed out their East Division road trip with two rather convincing wins over a couple struggling teams. They started to look like the team that we were expecting them to be to start the season. They did this by possesing the puck more and utilizing their D-men in putting the other team off balance. This is something they have shown a little here and there but not with the amount of consistency they did to end the trip.

Portland 5 @Prince Albert 2 (10/23/14):
Portland out shot the Raiders 11-4 in the first period and spent almost the entirety of the period in their zone. Shades of Bolton Pouliot's poor game in Swift Current last time out, started to show through though as Jayden Hart tipped home a Brendan Guhle point shot to give P.A. the 1-0 lead. Instead of letting off though, this just inspired the Hawks to control the play more on their way to goals by Mile Koules and Keegan Iverson to close out the period with a 2-1 adgantage.

Prince Albert and mostly Mackenzie Stewart failed to go away quietly though as he threw several massive checks to start the period and was rewarded with the goal on a bouncing puck in front of Pouliot. Bolton looked much better in the second period and finally seemed to get comfortable for the first time with the Hawks. Portland responded well to start the 3rd though as the power play capitalized on a Hunter Warner holding call as Layne Viveiros' point shot got home 3:06 into the 3rd. Portland got it's second mouthguard violation though at this point as Nic Petan was given a 10 minute misconduct. Again the Hawks responded to the adversity by Viveiros again firing from the point. This time big Paul Bittner deflected it home and Portland was up 4-2.

Alex Schoenborn, whose season has not gone the way a NHL draft pick would expect, took another stupid penalty, boarding Reid Gardiner in the neutral zone. He was given a 5 minute major, a game misconduct and later a 4 game suspension for the hit which caused Gardiner to get 16 stitches in his forehead. Gardiner also broke his nose on the play. Portland's penalty kill stole the game though, as they played much better then their 19th ranked %, killing off the 5 minute power play and later cementing the win with an Anton Cederholm empty netter.

Pouliot got his first win with the Hawks, stopping 29 of 31 shots. P.A. had a solid performance by Nick McBride, who stopped 29 of 33 in the loss. Portland's power play went 2 of 3 on the night, while P.A.'s went 0/4.

Game Notes:
-Alex Schoenborn has got to be in Coach Jamie Kompon's dog house. He has 2 goals and 1 assist in 15 games this season but also leads the team in penalty minutes with 37, while posting a -6 so far. This is a lot of PIMs considering he does not have a fight to his credit yet. He spent some time playing on the top unit with Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand, as well as, the 2nd line with Dominic Turgeon and Keegan Iverson, but now finds himself on the 4th line with some combination of Alex Overhardt, Tyson Predinchuk and and Ethan Price. He has put his team short handed way too many times this season for Kompon to feel comfortable with giving him a lot of ice time. It also does not bode well for him that without him in the lineup,the Hawks had their most dominant win of the season in Saskatoon.
-I was impressed with Skyler McKenzie as when 6'4" 216 lb Mackenzie Stewart was throwing his weight around and causing issues in Portland's defensive zone 5'5" 140 lb McKenzie would not back down and he was the one getting in Stewart's face (or as close as the smaller man could). One would think that a diminutive man cnetering your 3rd line would be a major weakness but he has really responded and played very well since being put in this role.
-The 2nd line of Dominic Turgeon centering Paul Bittner and Miles Koules combined for a total of 6 points on the night and continued to be probably the most dominant puck possesing lines Portland has.
-I really did not understand why Schoenborn was given a double minor in a scrum with Mackenzie Stewart 5:26 into the 2nd. Schoenborn was tangled up with a Raider that ended up falling to the ice. The Stewart came in far after the whistle and the inital scrum was over and he started a new one with Alex. To the best of my understanding, the very late guy coming in should be penalized more...

3 Stars:
#3: Paul Bittner:
-Should give this to the entire second line as they continue to play extremely well together, especially at keeping the puck in the opponent's zone. Bittner had 1 goal and 1 assist and was just a beast on the puck all
#2: Mackenzie Stewart:
-Even while playing up as a forward, Stewart was by far the best Raider on this night. In the 2nd period, when it appeared the Hawks were just going to run away with the game, he almost singlehandedly keppt them in it with a lot of nice hits and a goal.
#1: Layne Viveiros:
-This the Viveiros I wish we could get every night. He carried the puck more into the opponent's zone then I've seen him do all season and seemed to be feeding upon playing against the team his Dad won a Memorial Cup for. Layne had his first 3 point night of his career.

Portland 6 @Saskatoon 1 (10/24/14):
Portland has another great 3rd period out shooting the Blades 19-9 and somehow only got one puck past Alex Moodie. Chase De Leo was the one that solved Moodie, but it could have been many others as he had a great first period. The game got a little more tight in shots in the 2nd period but not in goals, as Anton Cederholm followed up on a Keegan Iverson try on the power play to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. Former Seattle Thunderbird Adam Henry buried the point shot on a power play 10:48 into the 2nd period, after Keoni Texeira took another minor penalty after being caught out of position.

Even though Portland was possesing the puck way more and had a 30-18 2 period shot advantage, the score after 2 periods was only 2-1. This is when the Oliver Bjorkstrand show began to play. Bjorkstrand had many chances in the P.A. game, but did not take the puck to the net in an aggressive manner. He finally started to do this in the 3rd period and got quite the results. He made the score 3-1 off a Nelson Nogier turnover at the Blade's blue line. Then, after Miles Koules scored on a 3 on 2 rush, Bjorkstrand score a goal on a tight angled rebound chance and lastly scored a highlight reel goal by dancing around 3 Blades defenders to earn the hat trick and a 6-1 Portland win.

Portland out shot the Blades 40-25 and was 2/4 on the power play. The Hawks were 47% on the raod trip on the man advantage and now sits 4th overall in the WHL with  23/7% on the season. The Hawks killed off 3 of the 4 Saskatoon power plays and is now 16th in the WHL with 77.4%.

Bolton Pouliot followed up his first win as a Hawk with his second in as many nights with 24 saves on 25 shots. Alex Moodie was great in the first 2 periods, but wilted in the 3rd as he made 34 saves on 40 shots for the Blades.

Game Notes:
-Winnipeg Jets 2014 4th round pick Nelson Nogier continued his rather rough season as he made several huge turnovers that led to Portland scoring chances. He now has 1 goal and no assists in 11 games and is a -15. Nogier will continue to get the tough match ups as he did this night against the Nic Petan line and he needs to rise to the occasion in order for the Blades to win more games.
-Speaking of matching up lines, Portland has found gold on their second line with Turgeon, Koules and Bittner. Paul in particular has made a huge impact on this line and now has 9 points on the season. His line is getting a lot of the other team's top line offensively, but their 2nd defensive pairing. Bittner just seems like he has really figured out how to use his body and is too much for 2nd pairing D-men on most WHL teams to handle.
-Bittner also benefits from linemate Miles Koules' quickness. Koules is great at creating space for himself and his linemates with his quick cuts back and fort in the other team's zone. I also love how much of a bull dog he is in his own zone as well. He had 1 goal on the night and has points in 4 straight game and 6 out of 7.
-Tyson Predinchuk took Alex Schoenborn's place on the 4th line with Ethan Price and Alex Overhardt.
-Another former T-bird, Sam McKechnie nearly had a goal for the Blades, but it was ruled no goal as he deflected it in with his stick over the cross bar. After further review it appeared that Sam may have struck the puck again below the cross bar, but video replay did not give a good enough angle to prove this.
-Evan Weinger continues to impress on the Hawk's 3rd line with McKenzie and Keegan Iverson. Weinger had one sequence where he just completely outmuscled a Blade's player off the puck at their own blue line and created a scoring chance. I like the move to put him on this line and hope he can continue to get a lot of ice time, as I think his improvement as the season goes, will have a big impact on how far Portland goes this season.
-It was remarked by Les Lazaruk, Saskatoon's play by play guy that Pouliot plays really deep in his net. I can't help but wonder if this is in reaction to a goal he gave up in Swift Current, where he was burned by being too aggressive and playing himself out of posiotn. Hopefully he can find some balance, or he will leave himself vulnerable to point shots.
-Somehow Blake Heinrich only has 2 assists over 6 games with Portland. His impact should not be weighed just in points though as he has given Portland a pretty high level puck mover. His pairing with Keoni Texeira has been a bit of a godsend for Portland, as they both are great skaters that are at their best when they are exchanging turns in jumping up into the offensive zone. He also has a pretty solid backhnad shot and he almost scored with this a couple times on the road trip. Look for him to get more and more responsibilities as the season goes.
-Bjorkstrand's first goal could not have come at a better time in the 3rd period, as Portland was starting to show the wear of playing 4 games in 5 nights. This goal, not only gave Portland insurance, it provided the life they needed.
-Portland finished 4-2 on the road trip and outside of the loss in Brandon, looked like a much improved team.
-Portland next takes on Kelowna on Thursday and Saturday for a pair back home. 1 game will be in the VMC, while the other is in the Moda Center.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Portland @Prince Albert Preview 10/24

Portland (3-9-0-2, 8 pts) @ Prince Albert (5-6-0-0, 10 pts)
The Portland Winterhawks travel to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan to play the Raiders tonight. Both teams have not gotten off to strong starts and need to get things going as we approach the end of March. They both also have received some bad news recently. Portland lost both their starting Goalie and backup to injuries, prompting them to acquire over-age Goalie Bolton Pouliot and recall Mike Bullion from the NAHL's Wenatchee Wild. Prince Albert recently had to suspend over-age forward and returning leading scoring forward Daktota Conroy after he left the team and went home to Edmonton. In a strange turn of events, two weeks ago the Raiders made Conroy one of the 3 over-age players they were keeping, when they dealt Calder Brooks to the Spokane Chiefs. Yesterday they picked up free agent Marcus Messier, who was the odd man out in Spokane earlier in the year. Strange indeed.

Missing Players:
Prince Albert:
-They are without Conroy and forward Colton McCarthy, who has also left the team for personal reasons. Center Tim Vanstone recently returned from an injury.
-Goalies Brendan Burke (lower body) and Adin Hill (upper body) are out. Blake Heinrich and Nic Petan recently returned from injuries.

Last Season/History:
-Portland out shot the Raiders 48-26 en route to a 6-3 win at home. Portland has won 4 straight over P.A, last losing 7-0 back in the 2008/09 season.

Players to Watch:

Prince Albert:
(10)D Josh Morrissey: He has been on the top of all Winterhawk's fans Christmas list all season and for good reason. He was the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft by the Winnipeg Jets and now familiarity playing with Nic Petan and Chase De Leo. He also is probably the top puck moving D-man in the WHL this year and this is by the far the biggest area of need for the Hawks. He has 5 points in 6 games with the Raiders this season and is always dangerous activating into the play.

(19)C Reid Gardiner: He is tied for the team lead in points with 10 and was listed as a "B" level prospect in the CSS' preliminary rankings for the 2015 NHL draft. He centers the line between Craig Leverton and former P.G. Cougar Jordan Tkatch. With the loss of Conroy and their lack of proven offensive talent up front, the Raiders will really need this line to take the brunt of the scoring responsibility.

(3)D/LW Mackenzie Stewart: He is the 7th round pick of the Vancover Canucks and was the sometimes defensive partner for Portland's Anton Cederholm. He was recently used as a forward on the Raider's 3rd line, in the absence of Conroy. With Morrissey and Sawyer Langer providing the scoring punch from the back end, Stewart is their shut down D-man. It is unknown whether Messier will arrive in time for the game tonight and if he is, Stewart may play an important role in playing multiple positions. Stewart also overcame being deaf as a child.

(30)G Bolton Pouliot: If he had even an above average outing on Wednesday, the Hawks walk away victorious. Sadly he did not and he was hung with the "L." With Bullion prbably not ready, he will most likely get the start tonight and needs to play much better for the Hawks to win. Goaltending is a very mental game and if he continues to play poorly, it could be due to the fact that he does not have much incentive to play well for the Hawks. Brendan Burke and Adin Hill are the Hawk's 1 and 2 this season and Pouliot does not have a spot there when they come back. I do not know what promises were made to him when he was acquired by Portland, but hopefully he realizes that if he plays great, he is more apt to get a spot somewhere in the league when Hill and Burke come back.

(44)D Keoni Texeira: He had his best and worst moments of the season on Wednesday. On one hand, he seemed to finally be comfortable enough with his D-partner (Black Heinrich) to activate and cause issues for the other team. One time it even led to a goal for the Hawks. However, on the other hand, he took the hooking penalty after a poor play at his own blue line, that led to the game winning goal. Keoni has a ton of talent and his development should be amazing to watch as he gets more comfortable. Hopefully he can leave his huge error behind him and come back and play as aggressive tonight.

(19)C Nic Petan: While he has 10 points in his 7 games back, he has struggled to find the time and space to work his magic. Often times Oliver Bjorkstrand, Chase De Leo and him do not seem on the same page. My biggest issue with him so far is that for a guy who was given the captaincy, he has appeared almost lazy at times. He often just coasts towards the bench at the end of the shift and sometimes does a "fly by" defesnively. I'd like to see him put this team more on his shoulders and play with more excitement then I've seen so far.

-After dropping 5 straight, the Raiders have won consecutive games over Red Deer and Kootenay. With two older players leaving the team, this locker room could be a mess right now and a win over a perennial winner like Portland would go a long way to bond this team. Portland is really looking for themselves and their identity this season and it looked like they had found it in the game on Wednesday. They were finally dominating the possesion for more than just a period at a time.

Hopefully, losing that game does not set them back and instead gets them to come together. If they win tonight, they solidify at least a .500 record on the road trip, which would be great for a team that lost both Goalies on the trip. I'm of the opinion that a test of this type is a good thing for a team that has had it almost too easy at times the last couple of years and they will be the team we were expecting by the time their Goalies come back. We will see starting tonight, if I am right.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hawks Up and Down Road Trip Continues With Win Over Pats; Loss to Broncos

The Portland Winterhawks played there 3rd and 4th games of their 6 game East Division road trip on Tuesday and Wednesday. After winning 6-2 over Moose Jaw and losing 10-3 to Brandon they beat Regina 3-1 on Tuesday and loss to Swift Current in thrilling fashion 5-4 last night.

Lets take a look at these last 2 games:
Portland 3 @Regina 1 (10/21/14)
-In probably their most consistent defensive effort, the Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead and were able to hold on to a 2-1 lead for most of the game, before getting an insurance marker on a 5 on 3 power play with 1:43 left in the game. Portland was out-shot 35-30 on the night and relied upon Goaltender Brendan Burke to make many big time saves. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Burke's game was marred by him getting injured 3:42 into the 3rd period, while kicking out his left pad to make a save. Recently acquired over-age Goalie Bolton Pouliot came on and was solid in stopping all 10 shots he faced to preserve the win.

-Portland was 2/4 on the power play and 7/7 on the penalty kill including a short handed goal by Skyler McKenzie (his first WHL goal).

-Regina Goalie Tyler Brown stopped 27 of 30 shots, while Burke out-shone him stopping 24/25 before his injury.

Games Notes:
-Unfortunately Tyson Predinchuk and Jack Flaman were both scratched from the game. They both missed out on the opportunity to play in front of their families. Flaman is from nearby Vibank, Sask., while Predinchuk is from Regina.
-In the weekly report released on Tuesday, Adin Hill was listed as "Week to Week," with a upper body injury. With Burke's injury (most likely groin related), this means that Pouliot will need to be the work horse until one of them comes back from injuries. Mike Bullion was recalled from the Wenatchee Wild and may be needed in one this weekend's games; as the Hawks are playing 4 in 5 nights.
-This announcement also means that concern over Adin Hill staying with the Winterhawks as Burke's back up was misplaced, as it appears Pouliot was only acquired as an emergency backup.
-Burke probably had his best game of the year prior to going out, as Regina created many odd man chances that he was great on. The only goal that got by him was a highlight reel backhand chance by Dryden Hunt that Burke could not see.
-Evan Weinger continues to be a point producer, despite his 4th line minutes, He got an assist and now has 6 points on the season. His point in this one was a great feed to Keegan Iverson in the slot at the end of a power play to open the scoring.
-Skyler McKenzie continues to be slotted in as the 3rd line center between Iverson and Alex Schoenborn. His first career WHL goal was on the PK and it goes to show how hard he works out there; not giving up on a rebound on a Chase De Leo shot.
-In a puzzling move in the 2nd period, Coach Jamie Kompon, did not capitalize on an exhausted Regina Pat's unit after an icing call.. Instaed of sending out a rested top line of De Leo, Nic Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand, he sent out the Hawk's 4th line, letting the Pats out of a dangerous situation in a tight game.
-As much as Carter Czaikowski has shown great improvement, he continues to lack the strength needed to out muscle opponents along the boards. He had his stick easily lifted at one point creating a golden scoring chance. A couple times though, he showed some great anticipation in picking off outlet passes.
-The Paul Bittner, Miles Koules and Dominic Turgeon line was buzzing all night and while none of the 3 got one in the net, they did strike the cross bar on 3 different occasions. Those goals will come.
-Twice Chase De Leo demonstrated great stregth and defensive awaresenss in lifting opponent's sticks on the back check and in one case ths led to a golden scoring chance for the Hawks.
-Portland used 5 forwards on their 5 on 3 advantage for the second time this season. Look for them to continue doing this until a top notch point shot from one of their D-men is discovered.

3 Stars:
#3: Dryden Hunt: Besides scoring the only goal for the Pats, he was a part of their best line all night. Hunt, Connor Gay and Patrick D'Amico just were too much for the Hawk's defense to handle.

#2: Brendan Burke: Portland's defense continued to make things difficult on their Goalie and on this night he responded very well. There were at least 5 or 6 elite saves that Burke was required to make to keep Portland in the lead.

#1: Chase De Leo: Boring choice, I know as you could give this guy the #1 star for Portland on most of the games he's been in this year. He had 2 points on the night and continues to be the Hawk's most conistent forward.

Portland 4 @Swift Current 5 (10/22/14)
-When these two teams get together, it is sure to be a barn burner. Last year, Portland beat Swift Current 5-4 in one of the better back and forth games all year. This time, the Broncos returned the favor, thanks to a goal with 13 seconds left on the power play by Colby Cave.
-Not getting at least a point out of this loss is devastating for the Hawks, who probably played their most conisistent puck possesion game all year. They out shot the Broncos 30-19 and controlled the zone play for most of the night. They were felled by several stupid penalties (Swift Current was 2/5 on the power play) and an 8 second segment in the 3rd period, where they gave up two straight goals. Making a 2-2 game, quickly a 4-2 one.
-Portland responded well, controlling the puck for almost all the rest of the game, scoring with 2:10 left to cut the deficit to 1 and then once more with their goalie pulled with 42 seconds left. Both of these goals were scored by Paul Bittner, who had his best game of the season and is really starting to
 show how good he really can be.
-The late game heroics by Bittner were undone by yet another Portland penalty. This time it was Keoni Texeira who misplayed the puck at his own blue line and hooked a Swift Current forward to prevent a 2 on 1 rush. The game winner showed how unlucky the Hawks were on this night, as a bouncing puck fell right on the tape of Gordon's stick, who snuck his shot past Pouliot for the win.

-Portland, who had a great performance from a now injured Brendan Burke the previous night, had a truly awful one from Pouliot on this one. 4 of the Broncos 5 goals were off rather weak looking or conventional shots. One has to think if Portland had a true backup on the night, they would have put them in. Pouliot stopped 14 of 19 on the night, while Landon Bow stopped 26 of 30 on the other end.

-Portland was 0/2 on the power play and Swift Current was 2/5. They also scored one seconds after a power play ended as well. The Hawk's power play is now 10/52 on the year (19.2%). This is good for 11th in the WHL. Portland's penalty kill is now 58/76 (76.3%); good for 4th to last in the WHL. Despite this they are tied with Edmonton and Medicine Hat for 2nd in the WHL in short handed goals with 3 (Kelowna is 1st with 5).

Game Notes:
-Portland was forced to call up Swift Current Legionaires Midget AAA Goalie Chantz Minck as an emergency backup for Bolton Pouliot. At one point Pouliot's mask was knocked off while he was down and it looked like Minck might need to come in. Mike Bullion should be able to join the Hawks in time for their game in Prince Albert on friday.
-The Dominic Turgeon, Mile Koules and Paul Bittner line seems to be clicking on all cylinders. They were trouble for Swift Current to handle all night. With most team's concentrating on Portland's top line, they should be able to take advantage of a beter match up. Bittner had 3 points on the night, Koules 2 and Turgeon 1. But again they hit the post on a shot by Koules.
-Blake Heinrich finally is starting to look comfortable and sure appears to be the puck mover they really need. His pairing with Texeira is exciting to watch as the two of them seem comfortable enough with the other in order to take turns activating offensively. This change really influened the flow of play on the night. Unfortunately for the two partners, they committed too many penalties, when placed in bad spots defensively.
-On the Bronco's 3rd goal, Skyler McKenzie was caught on one of the worst changes I've seen all year. As the Broncos were rushing the other way 3 on 2, he chose to come off the ice. Portland's centers cannnot be caught making these type of changes. Even Nic Petan has made some bad changes this year; taking his time coming off.
-One thing that Heinrich likes to do is a put a body check on the other team's forwards as they try to enter the zone. Both times he did this last night, it led to the puck going the other way.

3 Stars:
#3: Landon Bow: Tough to give a goalie a star for giving up 4 goals, but he made so many great stops that really kept the Hawks from opening up the game more.

#2: Colby Cave: The Captain provided the heroics on the night and had 2 points on the night.

#1: Paul Bittner: He scored two monstrous goals and added a fantastic assist on Koules' goal. Bittner seemed to take the next step from being a promising winger to being an elite NHL prospect in just two nights (including the Regina game). He has had a couple great games before though and needs to consistently perform like this in order to be a first round pick.

Next Up:
-Portland is now 2-2-0-0 on their trip and will play in Prince Albert Friday and Saskatoon Saturday. Fortunately for the Hawks, these two are the bottom teams in the East Division.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday News/Notes: Red Deer 2016 Memorial Cup Hosts/Carroll Not Suspended

Red Deer Rebels First Alberta Hosts in 40 years:
-The big news came down yesterday afternoon that Red Deer had been chosen over the Vancouver Giants to host the 2016 Memorial Cup. The Memorial Cup is a round robin tournament whose host is the 4th team while the other 3 are the Champions of the OHL, QMJHL and WHL. Since 1983, the host city has alternated between the 3 leagues. The host city that year was the Portland Winterhawks.

Red Deer being picked means that an Eastern Conference team has been chosen for the 3rd straight time by the WHL. The last two hosts were Brandon(2010) and Saskatoon(2013). One of the main reasons that Red Deer was chosen, was probably the promise of large crowds and that an city from Alberta has not played host since Calgary in 1974. Red Deer has several young stars as well with 17 year olds Adam Musil and Meyer Nell and 16 year olds Jeff de Wit and Josh Mahura and have already signed their top two picks from the 2014 Bantam Draft: Jake Leschyshyn and Dawson Weatherill. The last time 3 straight teams from one conference were chosen to host was when Seattl(1992), Kamloops(1995) and Spokane(1998) were chosen form the Western Conference.

Austin Carroll Not Suspended?:
-Early in the first period of Monday night's game vs. Portland, Victoria was throwing checks willy nilly and Carroll caught Alex Schoenborn in the head with an elbow in the neutral zone knocking him from the game until midway through the 2nd period. The hit was not penalized and apparently has not been deemed suspension worthy either. This is puzzling because there was multiple great looks at the hit on instant replay and seemed to be a textbook hit to the head. Carroll appeared to target Schoenborn's head as he came over the middle and I was honestly surprised that he came back into the lineup. Even though the hit was not penalized, the league can still suspend the player, but I guess did not think it fit the definition. 

Jamie Kompon Article:
-Buzzing the Net writer Sunaya Sapurji published an article today about Head Coach General Manager Jamie Kompon and the path that led him to being coach for the Hawks. Despite the team's 1-6-0-1 start so far, the tireless work ethic that he has, along with finally having almost all of the team's core players back, I would expect this to be turned around very soon. 

4 WHL Eligible Players Make Debuts:
-19 year Everett Silvertips Defenseman Mirco Mueller played 17:54 and was a +1 for the San Jose Sharks in his NHL debut in his team's 4-0 win over the L.A. Kings. Mueller made several great plays in the game and appears to be set to stay with the Sharks for the rest of the season.
-18 year #1 pick and Kootenay Ice Center Sam Reinhart will make his debut for the Buffalo Sabres tonight against Columbus and is another player that seems a lock to not come back to the WHL.
-19 year old Edmonton Oil Kings Center Curtis Lazar will make his debut tonight for Ottawa in Nashville against Seth Jones and the Predators. He could be just on a 9 game try out, depending on how comfortable he looks at the NHL level, though through gritted teeth I'll tell you that he is NHL ready.
-18 year old Prince Albert Raiders Center Leon Draisaitl makes his debut for the Edmonton Oilers tonight vs. Calgary and should be locked into their top 6 as their #2 Center.
-Former Winterhawks Head Coach/GM Mike Johnston also makes his NHL debut as his Penguins play host to the Anaheim Ducks.

Heinrich Still Out:
-Blake Heinrich was still listed on the WHL injury report as "week to week" with a concussion.

Two More U.S. Division Games?!!
-Portland's schedule had them playing 7 of their first 10 games this season vs. Seattle and Everett and plays them both this weekend, before heading out onto their 5 East Division road trip next week. Two big wins this weekend will go a long way towards making a run at the Division title and getting off the slide they are currently on. Games within the division are essentially worth 4 points in the standings and Portland is only 1-3-0-1 against  these two so far this year.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Portland @ Victoria Preview 10/6/14

Portland plays the middle game of their mini-3 game road trip up in Victoria at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena at 7:05 pm. It is the first of 4 games against the Royals this year and is being built up by the Royals web site as a "Rivalry." The reason for this build up is the lingering effects of how Portland dashed Victoria's hopes last season with a 5 game series win over the Royals.

Prior to the series last year, many writers had Victoria winning the set against the Hawks. They were shocked, however, when Portland made such quick work of them. The end of the series clinching win was even more shocking when Victoria's players took exception with the perceived chippy way Petan was during the series. A seemingly innocent play along the boards led to Victoria's leading goal scorer Brandon Magee cross checking Nic Petan in the neck/head and into the boards. This set off a brawl in which Ryan Gagnon kocked Petan to the ice, leaving him motionless and he proceeded to continue to lay on top of him. Dave Lowry and the Royals were fined for the incident and Magee was given a 12 game suspension for the hit, which he began serving when he returned from Calgary Flames training camp on September 23rd. He will not be eligible to return until October 25th.

This Season:
-Victoria was supposed to be one of the favorites in the Western Conference but just like Portland they are struggling early. They dropped 6-3 and 8-2 games vs Kamloops and 3-1 and 5-3 contests vs Vancouver. Their one victory was in over time vs Kamloops last weekend, in which Joe Hicketts scored the game winner. Their last time out was also an over time game; this time a loss to visiting Swift Current 2-1 in which Glenn Gawdin had the heroics.

Missing Players:
-Besides Magee, Victoria is missing signed Winnipeg Jets prospect Axel Blomqvist (indefinite), who received a hit to the head from Patrick Maier from Kamloops, giving him a concussion and Brdandon Fushimi, who is out 2-3 more weeks with a lower body injury.
-Portland should be without Blake Heinrich who is also out with a concussion and depending on how he feels after traveling from Winnipeg; Nic Petan.

Players to Watch:
-#2(D)Joe Hicketts: He was one of many Royals players who had an awful playoff series last year versus Portland. He had 2 assists in 5 games and was a -7 overall. He continually was hit and furstrated leading to him instigating a fight with Derrick Pouliot in the 2nd period of Game 5 in which he was concussed. Hicketts had a great offseason; getting an invite to Detroit Red Wings training camp and a 3 year Entry Level Contract. This season he has shown how much of a strength and a weakness he is on the back end in their 2 over time games. He made the #3 WHL play of the week (and you could argue it should have been higher), jumping up into the play and making a nifty move in netting the OT winner. He then was completely out-muscled behind his own net in OT against Swift Current, leading to Gawdin winning the game on a wrap around. Hicketts is proving to be break out player offensively and liability on the back end. Portland hopes to take advantage of this.

-#5(D) Keegan Kanzig: Kanzig cost his team greatly during game 1 of last year's playoff series when he jumped Paul Bittner and received a 3 game suspension. With him off of the ice, Portland had a much easier time in Victoria's zone. Kanzig is a beast at 6'6" 242 lbs and recently received extra fighting training at Calgary Flames camp. I would hope the likes of Anton Cederholm and Alex Schoenborn know this and do not try to tangle with Kanzig. He is a shut down defender and will likely receive the match up with Bjorkstrand and whomever else is on the Hawk's top line.

-#21(LW) Austin Carroll: Without Magee and lacking a proven #1 Center, along with Fushimi out, means the Royals do not have a great set up man in the lineup. Carroll has proven in his 4 games back with the Royals from Flames camp that he can create his own offense with 5 points. He is a proto-typical power forward at 6'3" 214 lbs and was a -8 in the series last year vs. Portland. A big year in his overage season would surely get him a contract from Calgary. He is easily the biggest threat offensively for Victoria and the one Portland will need to shut down the most to secure a win.

-#19(C) Nic Petan: If Petan is judged able to make it into the lineup tonight it will mean Portland is getting their Co-MVP from last year's team, not to mention a guy who has scored 233 points over the last 2 seasons. He will assuredly be a target for the Royals, as he was last year and will need to stay clear from the scrums for him to put himself and Portland into the win column tonight. I would think his inclusion will mean that all of the lines will be shaken up for tonight's game and future games. It will be extremely interesting to see what Coach Kompon will do to include his #1 center.

-#42(D) Layne Viveiros: Viveiros was much better last weekend. He is placing himself above the pack as far as puck moving D-men, but continues to be pretty bad under pressure in his own zone. It's no secret that he was most likely better against Everett due to the fact that they do not fore-check as aggressively as other teams and play a more defensive game. Layne will need ot prove himself against more aggresive teams like Victoria in order for the team to be that confident in him being a top 4 D-man.

-#25(RW) Evan Weinger: 5 points in his first 7 games with the Hawks and was moved down to the 4th line recently. His play along with that of Tyson Predinchuk and Alex Overhardt in what is usually a not very talented unit. If this duo along with whomever is their Center now that Petan is back, will give them scoring depth that will assuredly put them in a better position long term. Kompon was confident in playing all 4 line over the weekend, even up until less then 5 minutes remaining in a tight game. With the way Tyson and Evan have been playing, I think he will continue to be able to do this, thus leaving the skill players fresher for the finish of games.

-Portland will likely need to weather the storm early, as the Royals and their crowd have been looking forward to this game for a very long time. If they can do this and stay out of the penalty box their superior skill should win out. Portland has struggled doing that this season though, as they are currently #5 in the WHL in PIMs. The combined record for the top 5 in this category is 10-19-1-1. The Royals have started Coleman Vollrath in every game so far this season, but he has been yanked twice (both time were vs. Kamloops). Tyler Soy was listed as a C skater in the Preliminary ISS rankings and Victoria desperately needs him to play above this as he is now their #1 center. This Royals team has many weaknesses that need to be exploited by the Winterhawks most talented players. Just like last year, they are a larger team then Portland overall, but this can sometimes be to their own detriment. Regardless, if Petan returns I would expect Portland to get a winning streak going, but if he stays out for rest, this could be a very interesting and tight game. 

Winterhawks Give Kompon His First Win: 3-2 in OT Over Everett

Jamie Kompon got his long overdue first WHL win on Saturday night; a 3-2 thrilling Over Time win over the host Everett Silvertips. The Over Time loss was the 2nd straight OT loss for Everett as they lost the previous night to Kelowna in their home opener: 5-4.


Alex Schoenborn was the OT hero in this game. It was his 5th career game winning goal and first career WHL OT winner. The winner came 2:40 into the extra session and was the direct product of his and linemate Miles Koules' hard work fore-checking in the Everett zone. They were both buzzing around the Tip's net for their entire shift and this caused Everett D-men Noah Juulsen and Ben Betker to turn the puck over multiple times, before Schoenborn was able to backhand the puck on net, defelecting off Betker's skate and past Goalie Carter Hart to end the game.

The two teams got into Over Time by trading goals the first of which was notched off an insane behind the back deflection for Chase De Leo on a Layne Viveiros point shot for Portland. Then recent acquisition Nikita Scherbak walked in and sniped it past Goalie Brendan Burke on the power play to tie the score 3:10 into the 2nd period. Tyson Predinchuk, who was skating on the 4th line with Evan Weinger and Alex Overhardt, took a drop pass from the onrushing Viveiros and filed it past Hart for the league. Everett again tied the score, this time after a centering pass from behind the net, deflected into the air and was batted out of the air with a blind swing by Remi Laurencelle with under 4 minutes to play in the 2nd.

Brendan Burke and Carter Hart then traded huge saves in the 3rd, to force the extra session. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Miles Koules both struck iron in the 3rd. Schoenborn's goal was not just because of the effort they made, but the work of the 2 previous forward units, as Portland got all 3 shots in OT and controlled most of the play.

Burke stopped 26 of 28 shots for his first win and Hart saved 28 of 31 for the loss. The Hawks were 0/1 on the power play and is now 0/6 on their last 6 power plays and 5/29 (17.2%). Everett was 1/1 on the night and is now 6/25 (24%) on the season. Portland's PK takes a hit going down to 78.9% and Everett's improves to 75%.

Game Notes:
-I really like what I am seeing from Portland's second line. Paul Bittner, Dominic Turgeon and Keegan Iverson are an everage of 6'2" and 202 lbs and all play really well with and without the puck. They consistently wore down Everett's Defensemen and though they didn't get any points on the night, they created a lotof chances. Even with Nic Petan returning as soon as Monday night in Victoria, I hope they keep these 3 large bodies together.
-The 4th line got a goal for the 2nd night in a row with Predinchuk notching his 2nd of the year. Weinger scored on Friday night. Alex Overhardt, Weinger and Predinchuk seem to work well together and Coach Jamie Kompon had no problem with them matching up vs Everett's top line of Kohl Bauml, Brayden Low and Nikita Scherbak.
-Miles Koules was even better in his second game in a Portland sweater, looking for outlets and getting sent on one breakawy and coming inches from catching another. He fits really well in Kompon's system with his hard work on the boards and plays at a quick pace which will benefit him even more when Petan returns.
-Koules also is really sollid 1 on 1, setting up an open shot even with a D-man all over him. At one point in the 3rd period, he made a nifty behind the back play, setting up an open shot.
-Portland's defense is improving at keeping driving opponents to the outside, but still has a long way to go.
-Joshua Smith continues to be a penalty minute machine with another minor, which directly led to Scherbak's goal. Smith's penalty came from him not mioving his feet enough on the play. He really needs to do a better job of using his size in a legal way.
-Jack Flaman, Travis McEvoy (O/A), Colton Veloso, Brendan De Jong and Nick Heid were all healthy scratched for the Hawks on the night, as Blake Heinrich is the only Winterhawk remaining out of the lineup for health reasons (concussion). You would think that some changes will be made soon to the roster.
-Portland went with a #1 power play unit of De Leo, Koules and Bittner up front and Layne Viveiros and Oliver Bjorkstrand on the points. If Petan returns Monday, he will likely take Bjorkstrand's spot on the point, oving him up to where he is comfortable in the middle.
-Former Winterhawk Tyler Sandu, really has been a disappointment for Everett, after a 33 point 16 year old campaign, he had 30 points last season in an injury plagued season. This season he is already playing down on the 3rd line RW with Laurenecelle and Patrick Bajkov.
-Cole MacDonald is being counted on to play a shut down role for Everett this season and he was matched up vs. Portland's top line, doing a mostly solid job of keeping this line in check.

3 Stars:
#3: Remi Laurencelle- I am getting more and more impressed with his play this season. Last year he was more of a 4th line after-thought, scoring only 4 points after being acquired from Lethbridge. This season he is one of Everett's more energetic players and is a good 2 way player.

#2: Alex Schoenborn: The OT hero on the night is responding well to his demotion to the 3rd line. In my opinion, he works best in an energy/checking line role and not when he is being counted on to provide a lot of offense. He made a couple great plays and seems to live by the mantra of "just get the puck on net," which exactly what you want from a 3rd line winger.

#1: Layne Viveiros: Not just for his 2 assists on the night but for his very impressive 1 on 1 plays. By my count he shut down both Ivan Nikolishin and Scherbak 5 times in 1 on 1 match ups in the neutral zone and at his own blue line. Whether this is the anomally or a sign of improving play, we will not know for some time, but regardless he is working his way out of my doghouse.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Portland Still Winless as They Fall in Shoot Out to Seattle

Though it was the Hawks most entertaining game so far this season, it did not equate into a "W" and extends their winless season to start the season to 6 games. Seattle contin ued to battle back as they trailed Portland by 1 goal 3 different times in order to send it to Over Time and then the circus.

Portland opened the game with a visible desperation and played their best single period of the season so far, in controlling the play in Seattle's zone for almost all of the period. They out shot the Thunderbirds 13-2 in the period and this is not even really indicative enough of how much they flat out controlled the play. Despite this though, they only led 1-0 at the break and you had to know that this type of play would not hold for the rest of the game. Seattle responded to an assuredly upset Steve Konowalchuk and pushed back to start the second peruiod, finally responding halfway through the period with a deflection off of a point shot to tie the score.

This back and forth continued as Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a rediculous goal off of a deflected entry shot that sent him 1 on 2 into Seattle's zone. Seattle D-man Jerrett Smith pushed him seemingly out of scoring range, but then Oliver uncorked a wicked backhanded wrister that found a spot over Taran Kozun's shoulder. Seattle answered back again when Matthew Barzal won a board battle while on the power play with Portland's Joshua Smith and found Keegan Kolesar in front for the easy goal. Portland would get their 3rd in a similar way with Keegan Iverson sending a nice feed to Paul Bittner in front. Bittner sent it top shelf and most of the home crowd thouight that would win it. Portland was agaijn undone by a deflected shot though as Ryan Gropp was given credit for deflecting an Ethan Bear point shot, though it appeared to go off of Skyler McKenzie to me.

Seattle won the shoot out with scores from Barzal and Donovan Neuls, while the only Portland shooter to find the twine was Dominic Turgeon.

Kozun gets his second win over Portland this seaosn, this time stopping 26 of 29 shots. Burke gets the loss giving up 3 goals on 26 shots.

Portland was 0/5 on the power play, though they were much better at generating chances with the addition of Bjorkstrand. They are now 5/28 on the season (17.9%). Seattle was 1/4 on the night and is now 3/18(16.67%) on the season.

Game Notes:
-Keegan Kolesar is growing to be a Winterhawk killer. He had a very large power play marker in the first matchup of the season, tying the score and he had another one tonight, forcing over time. Kolesar now has 2 points (1 Goal and 1 Assist) in each of the games agaisnt Portland this season.
-Portland continues to be victimized by deflected point shots. Deflections are so difficult on a goalie, especially when your team is killing a penalty and have a large body screening you from a good view. They need to do a better job at paying the price and getting out to block these shots from getting near the net.
-Dominic Turgeon's line (Iverson and Bittner) got the brunt of dealing with Barzal and Ryan Gropp. They need a marvelous job in the second period, not allowing Barzal's limne from getting out of theio own zone but just a few times. This effort was not as great in the last 2 periods though Barzal and Gropp were not as dangerous as they were in the first match up.
-Nick Heid skated a regular shift pairing in the first period with Anton Cederholm but got less and less ice time as the game went on. Though I understand the reasoning as he is error prone at times and is still adjusting to the WHL surface and game, I think a regular shift on Cederholm's right side (on 5 on 5 only) should be his. Forcing Keoni Texeira or Layne Viveiros to skate on the right side seems to create more confusion and mistakes then Heid playing where he is comfortable. Joshua Smith is the other right handed shot and played better for most of this game but lost several important board battles, including the one that led to Kolesar's goal.
-Miles Koules looked solid in his Hawks debut, showing off game breaking. His shoot out try seemed to lack creativity, but I do get why he was given that opportunity. The easiest way to make a guy feel comfortable in a locker rom is making him the hero.
-Alex Schoenborn, though kept off the scoreboard, palyed his best game so far thise season, drawing 2 different minor penlties in the game and most importanly staying out of the penalty box himself.
-Evan Weinger notched his 3rd goal in 2 games on a long shift to open the scoring. He is now slotted down on the 4th line with Alex Overhardt and Ethan Price but his skill on offense has to earn him some more playing time at some point. He even went down to block a point shot in the 2nd period.

3 Stars:
#3 Ethan Bear:
-Bear has to be a first round pick in this coming draft. He has a wicked slap shot and got 3 or 4 through to Burke. It was also his shot that was tipped past Burke to tie the score at 3 lat in the 3rd. He finsihed with 2 assists on the night.

#2 Keegan Kolesar:
-Kolesar had 1 goal and 1 assist on the night and really seems to be a great power forward in the making.

#1 Oliver Bjorkstrand:
-Not just for his highlight reel goal but for the amount of ho hum entry plays that he singlehandedly turned into great scoring opportunities.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Seattle @ Portland Preview 10/3/14

Seattle (1-2-0-0, 2Pts) @Portland (0-5-0-0, 0 Pts)
Seattle travels down to Portland tonight to take on the winless Portland Winterhawks tonight at 7:00 pm in the Moda Center. For two teams that widely believed to be the runaway favorites in the U.S. Division, this is not the start that was expected. The main reasons for their combined 1-7 record were actually expected before the season started. Portland's inexperienced and error prone Defense was the team's major concern coming into the season and Seattle's scoring depth was their concern. Both issues have rared their ugly heads as Portland has given up 26 goals in their first 5 games and Seattle was shut out by Everett and held to 1 goal in Tri City in their last 2 games. All 3 Seattle players with more than one point play on their top line (Ryan Gropp, Matthew Barzal and Keegan Kolesar).

Season Series:
-Seattle leads the season series 1-0 with an opening night win over Portland 4-1. Ryan Gropp had 2 goals, Matthew Barzal had 2 assists and Keegan Kolesar had 1 goal and 1 assist for Seattle and Goalie Taran Kozun stopped 24 of 25 shots for the win. Portland's lone goal was scored by Tyson Predinchuk on the power play. Adin Hill played well stopping 33 of 37 shots. The Hawks were without 9 players who figure to be regulars for them. Portland plays them twice in the next 8 days, before not playing them again until December 13th.

Missing Players:
-Captain Justin Hickman's status was adjusted to "day to day" on the 9/29 Injury Report and could make his season debut soon. Anaheim Ducks first rounder Shea Theodore is also still out as he injured his elbow while attending Ducks camp and should be out another 3-4 weeks or so. 18 year old Right Wing Calvin Spencer returned from an illness and 20 year old pest Evan Wardley was returned from a tryout at Montreal Canadians camp.

-Nic Petan is still away at Winnipeg Jets camp and figures to play in at the very least their one remaining preseaosn game on October 4th. Josh Hanson is still listed as "day to day" with his hand injury and will probably not play tonight. Blake Heinrich is also still out with post concussion related concerns


Debuts Galore:
-Along with Wardley making his season debut for Seattle; recently acquired 17 year old D-man Turner Ottenbreit looks to make his debut for the T-birds after being traded from Saskatoon earlier this week for overage D-man Adam Henry. Ottenbreit was a 12th round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft and has scored 1 career WHL goal in 12 total games over last season and this one. Seattle also recently traded overage Center Sam McKechnie to Saskatoon for a 6th round pick. Interestingly enough; McKechnie and Henry have both played for 3 WHL teams now, all of which they have been on together.
-For Portland: Miles Koules, who was just acquired for a 4th round pick will make his debut tonight. Also making his season debut is Oliver Bjorkstrand, who was returned from Columbus Blue Jacket's camp. He looks to get a great start to the 2014/15 campaign after scoring 31 and 50 goals in his last 2 seasons.

Players to Watch:
1)#8(C)Scott Eansor- Eansor was fantastic in his first season last year for Seattle, giving them a solid checking line Center who played both ways very well and was just a pain to play against. In the season opener he was just not good, consistently getting caught out of position and commiting the penalty that set up Predinchuk's goal. With McKechnie gone, he will be needed to Center the second line with Lane Pederson and Fabian Baltram on his wings. Through 3 games, he has no points and 4 penalty minutes. 

2)#28(RW)Keegan Kolesar- Kolesar was targeted early and often in the first game and if he can continue to get under the skin of guys like Alex Schoenborn and Joshua Smith, he will put his team's very talented power play on the ice.

3)#27(D)Evan Wardley- Another guy that annoys the heck out of Portland's players. He has a cannon of a slap shot and with Adam Henry gone and Shea Theodore out, he will be their go to power play quearterback.

4)#26(C/LW)Nolan Volcan-He was recently named to one of Canada's U-17 World Challenge Teams and has been playing well on the T-birds 4th line.

1)#27(RW)Oliver Bjorkstrand- It's no secret that Portland's puck possesion has suffered with Bjorkstrand and Petan out of the lineup. He will immediately be deferred to more times then not and the puck will be on his stick for a majority of whatever power plays Portland gets. Though the Hawks are 8th in the WHL at 21.7% on the PP, they have looked disfunctional a lot of the time. A whole week practicing the power play with Bjorkstrand should help them take advantage of these opportunities more.

2)#8(D)Joshua Smith- Smith was a lot better in the Hawk's loss to Everett on Sunday, using his wide frame to push smaller Tips forwards off the puck. He also had several solid stick checks on entry attempts. He will need to continue improving as the season goes, as well as, stay out of the penlty box, to improve the team's goals agaisnt average.

3)#12(RW)Miles Koules- How quickly Koules can fit into the Portland lineup will go a long ways into how succesful Portland's offense is and how much scoring depth this team can boast. If he can help generate chances right form the get go, despite only practicing with the team a couple times, the Hawks will be in great shape.

-Well we know that this should not look anywhere near the same as the last time these 2 teams matched up. Both teams have a lot to prove tonight as they are starting much poorer then expected, so a lot is on the line, especially for Portland. Starting 0-6 would be tough for even a team as talented as the Hawks to recover from easily. If the Hawks drop this game, the excuses will be running very thin and questions about Jamie Kompon's coaching will start to arise.

If Portland can stay loose and keep the bench fun tonight it will go a long way in helping them on the ice as holding your stick a little too tight can cause you to miss out on thiose golden opportunities and take stupid penalties. If Portland can stay out of the box tonight and keep the play 5 on 5, I think Portland gets the monkey off their back in a big way tonight.

Elsewhere in the WHL:
-Tri City @Brandon
The Americans are the first ones to start the East Division swings as they start out in Brandon tonight vs. the very hot Wheat Kings.
-Calgary @Edmonton
The Oil Kings put forth a poor effort in their last game; a 4-2 loss to Medicine Hat at home and hope to turn things around.
-Spokane @Kootenay
The Chiefs are without 5 regulars(all injured), including 4 forwards and had to call up a 15 year old for this weekend's games.
-Moose Jaw @Prince Albert
The Warriors looked good in their 3-0 win last night over Red Deer and look to make it 3 wins in a row after getting back a trio of their best players form NHL camps.
-Kamloops @Lethbridge
Cole Ully is currently 4th in the WHL in scoring with 9 points in 5 games and linemate Matt Needham has 6.
-Saskatoon @Medicine Hat
Cole Sanford is currently leading the WHL in points with 10 in 5 games. New Blades Sam McKechnie and Adam Henry will make their debuts for Saskatoon.
-Swift Current @Vancouver
The Broncos continue their B.C. Division swing after dropping a 3-1 contest to Kamloops on Wednesday.
-Kelowna @Everett
Nikita Scherbak makes his debut for the Silvertips as they take on the blazing hot Rockets. Kelowna has 6 players in the top 14 in the WHL in scoring currently.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thursday 10/2 News/Notes: Koules Will Wear #12

Miles Koules Will Wear #12:
-Koules will make his Winterhawks debut this Friday vs. Seattle at the Moda Center. He will be wearing the number, most known as the one Adam Deamarsh wore during his time in Portland and Presten Kopeck most recently wore. It is unknown at this time where he will be slotted in, but I would not be surprised if he played on a wing with Chase De Leo and Oliver Bjorkstrand, at least to start.

Bjorkstrand's Back:
-While acquiring Koules is reason enough to be excited for Friday night's game; the return of #27 to the lineup has got to have people ecstatic. Bjorkstrand had 109 points in 69 games last season, including 50 goals. The combination of him and De Leo on a line should be enough for Portland to create many more scoring chances then they have so far.
-With Bjorkstrand and Koules added to their wings, the Hawks now have 8 wingers that played in the WHL last season. This should mean that playing time will be decreased for the likes of Evan Weinger, Tyson Predinchuk, Ethan Price and Colton Veloso, who had all been pressed into top 9 minutes.

Too Many 20s:
-Portland has to decide which of their four 1994 born players to cut or trade from their roster by October 15th, though I expect it to happen sooner. Travis McEvoy is a big bodied winger who, though not a possesion style player, made an impact (particularly against Everett) by throwing many vicious checks. Despite this, because he was such a cheap addition for the Hawks (brought into camp after being released by Vancouver), I expect him to be the odd man out.

No Change on Injury Report:
-On the 9/29 injury report there were no changes listed as Josh Hanson(hand) is still listed as day to day and Blake Heinrich(concussion) is still listed as week to week. On Hawkey talk on Monday, Coach/GM Jamie Kompon stated that Hanson is still rehabilitating his hand injury and it appears that this is not happening as quickly as they had hoped because he was listed as day to day last week as well. Heinrich suffered his concussion in Portland's preseason game against Everett on 8/31, meaning that he has been out for over 1 month already. Last I heard, he was still not skating in practice with the team.

Nic Petan Still at Winnipeg Camp:
-Petan will suit up on the Jet's top line with Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik in Calgary tonight. Due to injuries to other Jet's forwards and his stellar play, he has stuck around much longer then expected. He notched an assist(his first NHL point) on the eventual game winner in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Ottawa.

Bullion Gone:
-Reed Morison was removed from the roster for the second time this season, last week, after Keegan Iverson and Dominic Turgeon were returned to the roster. Also, 1997 born Goalie Michael Bullion, who got 1 start in a loss to Prince George was sent to the NAHL's Wenatchee Wild earlier this week. He may be recalled at some point if Brendan Burke makes the USA U-20 World Junior Championships Roster or if any injuries occur to Burke or backup Adin Hill.

McKenzie Snubbed;
-Despite his hot start to the season (4 points in 5 games), 1998 born Center Skyler McKenzie was not chosen for any of the 3 Canadian U-17 teams that will compete at the World U-17 Challenge November 2nd-8th in  Sarnia-Langton, Ontario. He could be a placement though, should any injuries occur.