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.
-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.
-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: 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.
-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 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).
-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: 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.
-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.