-For the 5th time this season, Portland takes on the Everett Silvertips in a U.S. Division match-up. It is a battle of first vs. last in the Division, though Portland is working on decreasing that gap, winning 5 of their last 7 games. They will get a chance this weekend as they play Everett again on Sunday at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Everett has only lost twice in regulation this season, both times to Spokane at home. Everett has won 6 of their last 7 games, so this will be a match-up of two streaking teams.
-9/27: Everett 5 @Portland 1:
The Tips were granted 11 power plays, to Portland's 1 and were led by Carson Stadnyk's 3 points night.
-9/28: Everett 6 @Portland 4:
Portland chased starting Goalie Carter Hart, behind 2 goals from Evan Weinger, but Everett responded with 5 straight goals (2 tipped in by Graham Millar) and went on to win for 2nd consecutive night in Portland.
-10/4: Portland 3 @Everett 2 (OT):
Alex Schoenborn scored the over-time winner after a great shift by Miles Koules and himself and Portland finally tasted victory this season over Everett.
-10/10: Portland 2 @Everett 6:
The Tips got 3 points apiece by Carson Stadnyk and Ivan Nikilishin and poured 40 shots on Portland goaltender Brendan Burke for the win.
Leading Season Series Scorers:
- Carson Stadnyk 5 Goals, 5 Assists for 11 points.
- Ivan Nikolishin 1G, 5A, 6 pts.
- Graham Millar, Kohl Bauml and Noah Juulsen have 4 pts.
- Chase De Leo 3G, 3A, 6 pts.
- Layne Viveiros 4A, 4 pts.
- Evan Weinger and Oliver Bjorkstrand have 3 pts apiece.
-Austin Lotz 3 Games Played (2 Started): 3 Wins, 0.938 Save % and a 1.20 GAA.
-Carter Hart 2GP (2 Starts): 1 Loss, 0.867 Save % and a 4.00 GAA.
-Brendan Burke 4GP (4 Started): 0.854 Save % and a 5.17 GAA.
-Adin Hill 1GP (0 Started): 1.000 Save % and a 0.00 GAA (Stopped all 10 shots in 3rd period of 9/28 game).
-Portland gets Adin Hill back from injury (he missed over a month), but could still be without Paul Bittner, who missed both of last weekend's games.
Players to Watch:
-(RW)#8 Patrick Bajkov:
Bajkov has taken full advantage of being placed on the Tip's top line alongside Montreal Canadians first round pick Nikita Scherbak and 20 year old Center Kohl Bauml. He has 12 points on the season, nearly already eclipsing his 19 points that he had all of last year already. He is coming off of 2 straight 2 point games and has 4 multi-point games so far this season.
-(RW)#16 Carson Stadnyk:
-(D)#38 Kevin Davis:
-Davis, along with Cole MacDonald has formed a fantastic shut down pairing for the Tips that night in and night out has been able to limit scoring chances for the other team's top line. Davis is in his draft year and if he keeps this defensive play and finds a way to continue his offensive output (13 pts so far), he will move up in a lot of draft rankings.
-(C)#19 Nic Petan:
-Petan finally found the back of the net the last time out for the Hawks in over-time. Hopefully this will shake him from his goal scoring funk and he can start producing like he has the past 2 seasons. The effort has improved for Petan, who appeared to not give his all after being sent down by Winnipeg. He has 17 points in 14 games so far and Portland will need him get closer to 2 points a game average in order for the wins to start increasing.
-(RW)#22 Alex Schoenborn:
-Schoenborn had a ghastly start to the season for Portland, taking way too many penalties and gradually being moved down the Hawks depth chart, before an ill advised check got him suspended for 4 games. He responded in his return from this suspension with a point in each of his first 2 games back last weekend and was a driving force every shift. Alex has a never ending motor when his head is in the game and if he keeps this play up, look for Coach Jamie Kompon to again give him opportunities to play on the top line with Petan.
-(D)#16 Blake Heinrich:
-How he has not scored for Portland yet this season is a puzzle to me. He has a great slap shot from the point and seems to have a creative hockey mind. The more comfortable he gets in Portland's system, the more I would expect to see his name on the score sheet. Maybe he can finally pot his first WHL regular season goal this weekend. Portland definitely needs more point production from the back end as Layne Viveiros has 9 more points then the next D-man.
Once it was clear that the Winterhawks would be getting off to a very poor start, I had these games before Thanksgiving circled on my calendar. 4 of their next 5 games are against the top 2 teams in the Western Conference, so they will be tested. Also, if the Hawks do not get at least get one of the games this weekend against Everett, the U.S. Division lead will be very difficult to overcome.
What Everett has done well this season is to not take any dumb penalties and to play a defensive system that values taking players off of the puck. Especially on the road, they have played such suffocating defense that other teams just cannot create too many scoring chances. This system has done a great job against Portland so far this season. They made it a habit in recent years of sitting back and watching Portland create and this led to many lop sided Portland wins. Portland has not been able to posses the puck for large portions of games so far this season vs. Everett and will look to do a better job of it in the next few games.
In watching Spokane beat Everett last weekend, I noticed that they were able to break through this season and just try to create a lot of rebounds in front of the Everett net. This is something Portland should learn from. Instead of trying to score the perfect water bottle popping goal, it might be better to just get pucks low and on net.
Everett has taken far fewer penalties then the rest of the WHL so far this season. Chase De Leo, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Portland's other top penalty drawing players need to take it upon themselves to take it right at the Silvertips D-men and draw more man advantage situations. Even if Juulsen and Pfeifer are good enough to play, it is likely that they are not playing at 100% and Portland should try to take advantage of this.
Elsewhere in the WHL:
-Moose Jaw @Prince Albert:
With the blazing hot Zach Sawchenko out with an injury, the Warriors will turn to Jackson Paulic to carry them against the Raiders in their only game this weekend.
-Medicine Hat @Regina:
The Tigers look for their 4th straight win and take on the Pats, who scored 8 goals the other night in Prince Albert.
So far Seatttle has had the worst East Division trip of any U.S. Division squad at 1-2. They will look to get going against the top team in the Eastern Conference.
The Oil Kings finally come back home after dropping 6 of 7 on the road. They went together, as a team to watch former Oil King Center Curtis Lazar play at Rexall against the Oilers last night.
-Lethbridge @Red Deer:
The Hurricanes have dropped 4 straight games and hope to improve on their 2nd from last in the WHL goal total of 49.
The Ice have won 3 straight games after the return of Sam Reinhart and if they keep this up will likely keep him in an attempt to make a playoff run.
The Blazers have dropped 5 straight games and will be without Brady Gaudet and Josh Connolly on the blue line.
-Kelowna @Prince George:
20 year old forward Chance Braid will miss the first of 2 games this weekend against Kelowna, who have won 8 of their last 10 games and have the WHL's top 2 scorers.
-Victoria @Tri City:
The Americans are another team in the U.S. Division, Portland is trying to catch. They play at home vs. a resurgent Royals team that has won 6 of their last 10.