-Former Winterhawk Defenseman: Andrew Ference (1994-99) recently tweeted out a photo of a letter that he said he faxed to every NHL team back in 1997. This was after not being invited for physical testing, or being ranked by Central Scouting Bureau. The letter can be found here and is simply delightful. Ference was drafted in the 8th round by Pittsburgh and has played 17 seasons for Pittsburgh, Calgary, Boston and Edmonton (where he is currently playing). He won a Memorial Cup with Portland in 1998 and won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011. My favorite Ference related memory is when the Calgary Hitmen and highly touted and leading WHL scorer: Pavel Brendl invaded Portland during the 1998-99 season. Ference shut Brendl down that night and even laid him flat with a clean open ice check. He always seemed to be driven the most when he was doubted. In comparison, Brendl, who was drafted 4th overall in 1999, ended up playing a total of 78 NHL games.
Sportsnet's Top 25 WHL Team so All Time:
-Writer Andy Eide and Sportsnet are doing a cool feature this summer by counting down their list of the top 25 teams in the history of the WHL. Yesterday the #25-21 teams were revealed. The same Calgary Hitmen 1998-99 team I mentioned before is listed at #24 overall. The Winterhawks received a mention in a note about the #25 team: the 2001/02 Kootenay Ice. Portland was the #1 seed out of the U.S. Division, but were upset by Seattle in the 1st round. This along with the other top seed Kamloops being knocked off early, helped make the route to glory easy on the Ice.
McManus Shines at U-17 Five Nations Cup:
-Portland's 2014 fourth round pick: Brannon McManus has scored a goal in both the exhibition game and opening match for Team USA to the Five Nations Cup. In Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Czech Republic, McManus scored his team's opening goal, helping to cut into an early 2-0 Czech lead. His marker came on the penalty kill. Team USA's next game is Friday morning against Slovakia. McManus scored 86 points in 55 games last season for Shattuck St. Mary's and has committed to play for the University of Minnesota in 2017/18.
Wait Records an Assist at U-18 Ivan Hlinka Cup:
-Meanwhile at the U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Team USA finally recorded their first win Wednesday; a 7-3 rout of Slovakia. The win means that they will play for 5th place Friday against the Czech Republic. Portland's Bantam Draft Pick: Garrett Wait, recorded an assist on the American's 7th goal.
Meanwhile, Canada blew out Switzerland 9-2, sending them to a Semi-Final vs. Russia, in search of their 20th Gold Medal and 8th in a row. Twelve of the 22 Canadian players are from the WHL, including Everett's Goalie: Carter Hart. I've watched all three of Canada's games so far and I came away most impressed with Kelowna's Dillon Dube, Vancouver's Tyler Benson and Brandon's Kale Clague. Benson opened the scoring against the Swiss Wednesday, when he split the defense and shelved a backhand past the opposing Goalie in a highlight reel goal. Clague is excellent on both ends and showed great adeptness at finding an open shooting lane on the offensive side. Both should be high draft picks in the 2016 NHL draft.
Caldwell Doing Yeoman's Work:
-Once again Alan Caldwell over at "Small Thoughts at Large" released the list of Portland Winterhawk's prospects with stats and notes. As far as I could tell, there was only one name listed that is not listed in the Winterhawks protected list on their website. That is 19 year old Goalie: Eric Schierhorn out of Anchorage, Alaska. According to Caldwell, Schierhorn was listed on the Hawk's official protected list last Spring. He was named the USHL Goalie of the year last season while playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Schierhorn is expected to play for the University of Minnesota in 2015/16.