Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday's Portland Winterhawks' News and Notes: Portland Traded a Rattie??

Winterhawks Trade Rights to Rattie
-Portland made their first trade since dealing Austin Gray and Reed Morison to Kootenay, by shedding the WHL rights to Taden Rattie to the Red Deer Rebels. Rattie had committed to Western Michigan and it appeared that he was going to go there, starting next year.

This season, Rattie has played for Whitecourt and then the Calgary Mustangs, both of the AJHL. Rattie has 24 points and 212 penalty minutes in 48 games between the two squads. He is listed as being 6'4" and 190 lbs and was listed as a "C" prospect for this next June's NHL draft.

Portland acquired a conditional fourth round pick in the 2016 Bantam Draft, with the condition being that Portland gets the pick when Rattie reports. With what I read today, it certainly appears as if Red Deer expects him to report and play for them this year.

It is somewhat disheartening  to see the brother of one of your best players in franchise history, choose another WHL team over yours, but I believe that fans shoudl not take this as a slight against Portland or their general manager Jamie Kompon for two reasons.

First, by going to Red Deer, Rattie is guaranteed a chance to play in the Memorial cup this year and get every scout in the NHL's eyes on him during his draft year. This is something that is invaluable to NHL prospects during their draft year. Also, he does not have to live up the expectations that Portland fans would immediately place on him because of his last name. While, I have not seen him play, I have to assume by reading his stat line that he is not the same player as his brother and thus would no doubt let fans down (even if he ends up having a better professional career than Ty).

If you keep those two things in mind, getting a fourth round pick out of someone that would not have played for you anyways, is a another steal for Kompon and co. Keeping in mind that Portland got Cody Glass with a first round pick they got for a guy that would not have reported and you have signs that this organization is still one of the shrewdest wheelers and dealers in the league, even without Mike Johnston at the helm.

We Are Going Streaking!
-With Rihards Bukarts' recent,WHL season high point streak hitting 11-games, it had be thinking about all of the streaks Portland has had in recent memory (dating back to the 2009-10 season)and where his current streak ranks among them.

1.(2014-15)Oliver Bjorkstrand-18 games
1.(2012-13)Brendan Leipsic-18 games
3.(2014-15)Chase De Leo-17 games
4.(2013-14)Nic Petan-16 games
4.(2012-13)Ty Rattie-16 games
4.(2010-11)Sven Baertschi-16 games
7.(2013-14)Oliver Bjorkstrand-14 games (twice)
7.(2012-13)Brendan Leipsic-14 games
9.(2012-13)Ty Rattie-13 games
9.(2011-12)Oliver Gabriel-13 games
11.(2011-12)Sven Baertschi-12 games
12.(2015-16)Rihards Bukarts-11 games (and still going)
-Several others also had 11.

-With the way he has been playing recently, along with the fact that he will be playing a lot of games vs. depleted Tri-City, Seattle and Spokane squads, who knows how long his streak could go for.
One interesting thing about all of those streaks is that none of them were the longest of the season in the league. So, Bukarts may be able to lay claim to something they all could not.
Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Seth Jones had not record a point in 20 games before tonight. This was a span that went back all the way to November 14th. He had an assist in a 5-3 Nashville win over the New York Rangers tonight.

Winterhawks in the ECHL:
-In a 3-2 OT win over Brampton, Reading got another assist from Cam Reid. He now has a seven-game point streak, which goes all the way back to December ninth.

Winterhawks' Prospects at the Mac's Tournament:
-Ilijah Colina picked up another assist and now has three in the first two games for the Valley West Hawks, as they beat the Belarus U-17 National Team 5-3. Valley West is 1-0-1 so far.
-Matt Quigley (list player) notched his second assist for the Lethbridge Hurricanes as they fell to the Regina Pat Canadians 6-2. Lethbridge now is 2-1 in the tourney.

Winterhawks Beat Americans In a Thriller 5-4

photo by Bryan Heim
You can say one thing about the Portland Winterhawks over the last couple of weeks: they play entertaining hockey. For the third straight game against a U.S. Division foe, regulation was not enough. Sunday night at the Moda Center though, Portland won in over time in fairly unique fashion. After a terrific feed from Alex Schoenborn, Caleb Jones appeared to be breaking through the Tri-City defense for a breakaway. In desperation, American defenseman Dyland Coghlan hauled down Jones with his stick. A penalty shot was awarded and the d-man did not disappoint.

Jones went in tight on Tri-City goalie Evan Sarthou, deking to the backhand, before going back to the forehand and sneaking it past the goalie's right pad. It does not get more entertaining than that.

During a predictably, post-holiday, sloppy first period, both Portland and Tri-City found the net twice. Portland opened the scoring on a power play, when Rodrigo Abols fired at the net from the right face off dot, after the Americans' penalty killer oversold on Jack Dougherty's potent slapshot. Abols' shot was deflected by Alex Schoenborn and past Sarthou for the 1-0 lead. Tri-City would then take a lead of their own after a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal that set up Parker Bowles alone with an open net. Then on a not so pretty play, Jeff Rayman's point shot deflected off of Keoni Texeira's stick, near his hands, in front of the Portland net and past Adin Hill.

Portland would respond though and score with under 30 seconds to play in the period. After a great shift by the Cody Glass line, Jack Dougherty's point shot was deflected in front by Rihards Bukarts and the red-hot Bukarts grabbed his own rebound to tie the game at two. With the goal, Bukarts extended his point streak, which is now at 11-games.

In the second period, Tri-City controlled a lot of the early play and was rewarded with two goals. First, Kurtis Rutledge fired a shot towards the net that was expertly deflected past Hill by Morgan Geekie, as he cut across the net. Then, recent Winterhawks' killer, Tyler Sandhu, who has four of his eight goals vs the Hawks, took advantage of a great Morgan Geekie drive toward the net and pass, beating Hill for a two-gaol Tri-City advantage.

The Winterhawks got one goal back before the second frame ended when Rihards Bukarts found a wide open Rodrigo Abols with a cross-ice pass and the Latvian sniper beat Sarthou far pot to cut the lead to one. This game was Abols' first back from the World Junior Championships Division 1A tournament, which he and Latvia won.

Portland completely owned the third period, peppering Sarthou with a multitude of shots and controlling a large majority of possession. They would not break even, though until less than six minutes left to play. The game tying marker was netted by Evan Weinger, who received a Caleb Jones outlet pass on the rush and picked a corner on Sarthou. Weinger's goal set up Jones' over time heroics and the win moved Portland to within six points of the U.S. Division lead.

Portland's power play was 2/5 on the night and is now 22.1% overall. They moved past Seattle into seventh overall on the man advantage in the WHL. Portland's PK was 1/2 and is now 82.1% overall. This is good for eighth overall in the league.

Two of the four goals Adin hill gave up were off of deflections in front and the other two were set up by pretty passing plays that left him out of position. He played well overall, despite only saving 21 of 25. Sarthou stood tall in the Americans' net, stopping 41 of 46 shots.

Game Stats:

F/O %
Abols 1 1 2 3 - - 0 0 0
0 0 0 6 14/22 63.6% 2 3 0
Iverson 0 0 0 3 - - 5 0 0
1126 --100
Overhardt00 026/1346.2%202
Weinger1011 --52 0
Clayton0 0 0 0--40 2
Hughes0 0002/633.3%00 0
0 2 2 4 - - 3 0 0
Texeira00 04--102
De Jong0002  --00 0

-It was great to see Abols and Keegan Iverson back in the lineup. Iverson left in the first period of a game vs. Moose Jaw, the day before Thanksgiving and had not played since. He did not seem to be at full speed, but still provided the top-six forward group with a heavy body that can cycle with the best in the league.
-One thing Abols does as a left wing now on Dominic Turgeon's line, is use his reach to corral loose pucks off the draw. This helped Turgeon's overall f.o. percentage on this night as he did this on four of Turgeon's wins.
-Jack Dougherty looked like a man on a mission out there. After his mistake led to Portland losing to Spokane right before the break, he wanted to make up for it. He had two assists and committed to rushing the puck more himself. I don't think I quite knew how good he could be as a puck-rusher until this game. His decision making while skating at full speed is superb. He has to be one of the more underrated defensemen in the WHL.
-Caleb Jones also appeared to be in top form. After getting caught out of place on the first Americans' goal, he was much better in his own zone, all the while, looking great at starting a rush.
-Ryan Hughes is improving a lot at getting himself into good areas on the ice. Twice in this game, he set himself up in great scoring areas, received passes and just could not get the shot on frame. If he continues doing this, he is going to start scoring in bunches.
-Speaking of Hughes, he seemed to be the focal point of the best puck possession that I've seen from the second power play unit in awhile. It has to help to have Caleb Jones as the QB, but Hughes made several solid plays in keeping possession in the Americans' zone.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Brendan Leipsic had a goal and two assists for the Toronto Marlies as they fell to St. John's 5-4.
-Jason LaBarbera notched his first shutout of the year, stopping all 35 shots he faced in a win for Lehigh Valley over Wlikes Barre/Scanton.
-Craig Cunningham had a goal for Springfield as they fell to Portland 5-1.

Winterhawks in the ECHL:
-Cam Reid had another assist for Reading as they fell to Brampton 5-4.
-Gasper Kopitar had an assist in a 2-0 Manchester victory over Adirondack.
-Mac Carruth was solid for Inday again as he stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 2-1 win over Quad City.

The Mac's Tournament:
-This year there are several Winterhawks prospect competing at the Mac' AAA Midget World Invitational Hockey Tournament. There are already a couple of them that have factored into the scoring and the tourney is only a couple of days old.
-Signed Portland 16-year-old d-man Jake Hobson had an assist for the Prince Albert Mintos as they tied their first game of the tourney 2-2 with the Calgary North Stars.
-Unsigned 15-year-old forward prospect Ilijah Colina had two assists for the Valley West Hawks as they also tied the Calgary North Stars 3-3.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday's Portland Winterhawks' News and Notes: Johansen Fights and Hansen Nets OT Winner!

Hopefully, I will be able to do these a little more consistently in the second half of the year.
DeBrusk was the first domino to fall

Roster Freeze is Over, What Will Happen?
-Red Deer made the first move as we near the January 10th trade deadline today, acquiring Jake DeBrusk from Swift Current for two picks (first rounder in 2017 and third rounder in 2016) along with forward Lane Pederson. One has to think that the package for DeBrusk, a first round Boston Bruins' selection, would have been bigger, had he not battled injuries so much the last two years.
Now that Red Deer picked up DeBrusk, what will Brandon, Lethbridge and Prince Albert do to keep up.

I still have not really seen enough to warrant unloading players like Dominic Turgeon, Adin Hill or Jack Dougherty yet. However, a long losing streak that pouts the playoffs in jeopardy, may be enoguh to convince me otherwise. I think there is too much talent on the current roster for Portland to have a record liek they do currently. It may sound naive of me, but I would not be surprised if Portland makes a run, post-World Juniors like they did last year. There's an argument to be made that some of Portland's most talented players, are new to coach Jamie Kompon's system, as well as, the WHL and there play will improve as they get used to both in the second half of the year.

Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Ryan Johansen has had a frustrating year this year, as he struggles to fit into the John Tortorella mold in Columbus. He let some of his frustrations out last night by fighting Vladislav Namestnikov. He also had an assist for CBJ as they fell to Tampa Bay 5-2. The other night, he made a few more fans as he handed his stick to a young fan.
-Colton Sceviour scored his third goal on the season and the last two have come in consecutive games. Sceviour did not score on his shootout chance though, as Dallas lost to St. Louis 3-2 in the circus.
-Jannik Hansen has had a career year in Vancouver. he is swiftly moving up the ranks as the Canucks' most consistent forward, not named Sedin. First he tied their game last night vs. Edmonton at one off a nice feed from Henrik Sedin. Then, after colliding with the crossbar and getting a nice little golf-ball sized bump on his forehead, he scored the winner in OT on the rush. Hansen now has 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points. His career best for goals is 16, while his best year for points is 39. He could beat both of them this year.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Troy Rutkowski, is getting another shot at the AHL, as he was called up by the Binghamton Senators. He made his debut Friday, firing two shots on net in a 4-2 win over Hartford.

-Brendan Leipsic scored his seventh on the year, as Toronto kept rolling with a 5-2 win over St. John's.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand is getting going for Lake Erie as he netted his third on the year. All of his goals have been scored since he returned from injury, just six games ago.
-Bad news for Taylor Aronson, who was having a career year for Milwaukee, Nashville's AHL affiliate

Winterhawks in the ECHL:
-Cam Reid returned from his second stint this year in the AHL and got an assist in his first game back with Reading. The Royals took down Elmira 4-0 in the game.
-Brett Ponich notched his third assist on the year, as Kalamazoo fell to Fort Wayne 5-2.
-Another solid effort for Mac Carruth, as he got the win over Quad City 4-1, by stopping 20 of 21 shots for Indy.
-Taylor Peters returned to the lineup for Idaho and notched an assist in a 5-2 win over Utah.