Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winterhawks and Cougars Split Weekend Series, Schoenborn Gets Teddy Bear Goal

Portland 5 Prince George 4
Last Friday in Portland, the Winterhawks staged their second comeback in three nights and a key cog in it again was Rihards Bukarts. The overage Latvian forward has found a comfort level with his new team and the rest of the U.S. Division should be out on notice.

In the first period, the Cougars struck twice within the first 1:23 of the game. First, Chase Witala made a slick move behind he net and made everyone on Portland think he was trying a wraparound chance on one side, when he as really bringing it the other way. Portland's Adin Hill made the first two saves on Witala, before he out home his third try. Then, both Caleb Jones could not get the handle on a bouncing puck in the Cougar's zone and rookie Brogan O'Brien chipped the puck out to Jesse Gabrielle for a two-on-one break the other way. Gabrielle was able to make the pass to Witala, who made another nice move and potted his second of the game.

Say what you will about Portland this year, they never seem to go away quietly. The Hawks created a lot of pressure in the Prince George zone and a goal seemed inevitable. The person who scored it though was a bit un-expected. Evan Weinger did a nice job to even get his shot in on P.G. goalie Ty Edmonds and Keoni Texeira cleaned up the garbage in front. The goal was his first since being moved up to forward from his natural position as a d-man.

The trend this year of really pretty first goals in the WHL continued Friday night. This time though the beauty was more in the set up as Jack Dougherty rushed the puck and flipped an amazing backhand saucer pass across the net to a waiting Tanner Nagel. The 17-year-old from Mossbank, Saskatchewan, put it home for his first in the Dub. The goal temporarily tied the game up in the second period. Kody McDonald undid that tie for P.G., off a deft deflection of a Sam Ruopp point shot. The game was 3-2 Prince George heading to the game's final frame.

The Cougars appeared to put the game away in the early going of the third period, when Brogon O'Brien made a pretty pass to a trailing Jesse Gabrielle and the Boston Bruins prospect put it home for the 4-2 lead.

As they did Wednesday night in Everett, Portland refused to die though. First Alex Schoenborn made a fantastic defensive play and rushed the puck quickly the other direction on a breakaway. Edmonds made a great first save on Schoenborn, Rihards Bukarts trailed the play and cut the lead to one. Then Schoenborn won a battle behind the Cougars net and found a wide open Dominic Turgeon in the slot. Turgeon's first shot was stopped by Edmonds, but he followed his own shot and tied the game.

It appeared the game might be headed to OT, but a great rush up the ice by Turgeon led to Bukarts getting the puck in a shooting position on the left wing. He made no mistake in scoring the game winner with only 48 seconds left.

Adin Hill got the win, stopping 38 of 42 shots, while Ty Edmonds fell for the first time to Portland this eyar in three tries, stopping 33 of 38.

F/O %
Texeira 1 0 1 2 - - 30 0
1 1 2 9 18/27 66.7% 1 0 0
Weinger 0 1 1 8 - - 6 0 0
0002- -105
Dougherty 0 2 2 2 - - 9 2 0
De Jong0001--410
Caller0000- -
-One of the side effects of Texeira playing up as a forward is that De Jong and Jones have to get used to playing together on the blue line as a pairing. Their un-familiarity with one another appeared to lead to both of the two early goals.
-First fight of his WHL career for Brett Clayton and he fared pretty well against noted tough guy Tate Olsen.
-Nine of team's 14 first-period shots were from Turgeon line. The top line had a total of 19 of the teams's 38 shots (50%).
-Skyler McKenzie was hit up high by Aaron Boyd well behind the play. Boyd was not penalized for initial hit but received a roughing minor for the melee that ensued. Hit looked high but camera coverage in the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum was such that it was only briefly caught. It could very well have been into McKenzie's chest. Boyd did not receive any supplemental discipline for the hit. P.G. ended up with power play out of the situation.
-Portland had to rotate lines as McKenzie left the game. Brett Clayton played extremely well with the increased ice time. He twice got shots on net, creating trouble for Ty Edmonds. One of his shots rang off of Edmonds' mask and it took him awhile to find the rebound.
-Cody Glass is looking more and more comfortable out there. He drew the penalty that set up a five-on-three by getting in behind the defenseman. Then, later he dropped Sam Ruopp in a scrum.
-Rihards Bukarts played the hero for the second game in a row. This time though, he got the game winner instead of all of the goals that helped tie the game.

Prince George 3 Portland 2

blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en">
Goal scorer @aschoenborn22 with some of his new pals.
— Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks) December 13, 2015

The Winterhawks had their annual teddy bear toss game on Saturday night and overage forward Alex Schoenborn scored the celebrational goal on his 21st birthday. Portland failed to capitalize on two great scoring chances late, though when the game was tied at two and eventually fell to the Cougars by a 3-2 score.

Portland got the teddy bear toss goal early in the second period, when Schoenborn drove the right wing, got by a defenseman and sniped a shot to the near corner on Cougars' goalie Nick McBride. This goal was scored in nearly identical fashion to his shorthanded marker in the game in Everett Wednesday night.

After Schoenborn's snipe though, the Cougars got going offensively. They tied the game on a power play goal, after Keoni Texeira was whistled for goaltender interference. The goal was scored in a flukey fashion as Joe Carvalho's point shot deflected off of the bodies of Colby McAuley and Portland's Blake Heinrich, before getting past Adin Hill. Their next goal in the second, was not as flukey though. Ryan Hughes' shot on one end went over the glass and led to a break the other way for import forward Bartek Bison. Bison picked the near corner on Hill and gave the Cougars another one-goal third period lead to defend.

Portland would again get a pivotal goal from Rihards Bukarts in the third period. He drove into the P.G. zone and was able to use a Cougars' d-man to screen McBride as he snuck a wrist shot past the goalie. Bukarts scored his sixth goal on three games with the marker.

The eventual winner was scored by the Cougars after Brad Morrison corralled a bouncing puck and fired a spinning shot in on Hill. Morrison's tally would give P.G. the 3-2 win and the 3-1 final season series record over Portland.

McBride, who got pulled a week prior against Portland, was considerably better, stopping a total of 25 of 27 total shots. Hill, meanwhile saved 39 of 42.


F/O %
Texeira 0 0 0 1 - - 5 0 0
0 0 0 2 22/35 62.9% 2 2 0
Weinger 0 0 0 2 - - 3 0 6
0 04--402
Overhardt000 11/1478.6%302
Hughes0000 1/520%000
Dougherty 0 1 1 2 - - 7 1 12
De Jong0001--520
-McKenzie played in the game despite leaving early from the previous night's tile after receiving a high hit from Aaron Boyd.
-Fantastic backcheck by Overhardt sets up a rush the other way for Portland. His two-way game has improved immensely this year. He is now finding himself on the second penalty kill unit often. This after coach Jamie Kompon was going without a true center earlier in the year on the second unit, because of lack of trust with Overhardt's two-way game.
-Caleb Jones does a great job of saving Caller's hide as Caller missed a hit and allowed a Cougar to walk in on Hill. Overall, Jones did a much better job in playing with a series of different d-partners.
-Glass now taking draws for second power play unit instead of Hughes.
-Playing forward seems to have helped Texeira's involvement in the flow of the game. He followed a Turgeon drive and got a good look in on McBride. I don't know if Kompon will continue to play him up front whenever Keegan Iverson gets back, but if he gets more involved because of this experience, it will have benefitted the team.
-After a nasty knee on knee hit on Turgeon by Witala, Portland's Dougherty and Prince George's Witala both got 10 minute misconducts. It was great to see someone like Dougherty get involved with after the whistle stuff in sticking up for a teammate.
-Texeira and McKenzie both hit the post with the game tied at two late.
-A rebound with seven seconds left bounced on Jones. He had a good look at the net, but just could not put it home.

Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Marian Hossa notched an assist for Chicago as they shut out Winnipeg 2-0.
-After a brief trek back to Springfield of the AHL, Craig Cunningham was called back up to Arizona and played in their 2-1 OT win over Minnesota. Cunningham had two hits in 8:20 of ice time.
-Brandon Dubinsky had his ninth assist on the year as Columbus fell to the N.Y. Islanders 3-2 in OT.
-Dubinsky then kept a good thing going with his fifth goal on the year as CBJ took down  Tampa Bay 2-1.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Oliver Bjorkstrand finally returned to play for Lake Erie after being injured in a game on October 29th. He had one shot and was a minus-two in a 4-3 win over Ty Rattie and Chicago.
-Derrick Pouliot had an assist for Wilkes Barre/Scranton in a 4-0 win over Taylor Leier and Lehigh Valley. With Mike Sullivan replacing former Winterhawks' coach Mike Johnston as the Pittsburgh Penguins' coach, one has top wonder what that means for Pouliot's future in the NHL. He has been a mainstay on the blue line in the AHL under Sullivan and could be a familiar face that Sullivan would like to have in the locker room. However, it's not like Johnston wasn't familiar with Pouliot as well. I think that they are probably planning on keeping Pouliot in the AHL for the entirety of the season to help develop his defensive game.
-Brendan Leipsic had two assists for Toronto as they edged Syracuse 4-3. Leipsic's Marlie are atop the entire AHL with a 20-5-2 record.
-Taylor Leier scored his seventh goal of the year and Lehigh Valley beat Springfield 5-4.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his first (of many) professional goal for Lake Erie in a 2-1 win over Chicago.
-In a 3-2 Manitoba win over Milwaukee, three former Hawks factored in the scoring. Taylor Aronson had an assist for Milwaukee and Nic Petan had an assist and Chase De Leo had a goal for Manitoba.
-In the second game between the squads on the weekend, Taylor Aronson had another assist as Milwaukee downed Manitoba 3-2.
-Travis Ehrhardt had two assists as Utica edged Toronto 5-4.

Winterhawks in the ECHL:

-Cam Reid scored his fifth goal of the year, but Reading fell to Florida 3-2.
-Mac Carruth got his first win in three weeks, by stopping 28 of 30 shots for Indy. The Fuel edged Fort Wayne 3-2.
-William Wrenn and Daniel Johnston each had assists for Alaska, but they still fell to Utah 3-2. Garrett Haar was scratched in the game for the Aces.
-Miles Koules returned from a rib injury to play for Quad City in their 5-2 loss to Rapid City. Koules was minus-two and had three shots on goal, in his first game since November 28th.
-Gasper Kopitar had one goal and one assist in a 4-3 Manchester victory over Adirondack. Kopitar now has 11 points in 14 games this season for the Monarchs.
-Cam Reid had an assist for Reading and Kevin Young was scratched as Reading edged Florida 2-1.
-Three games after having four assists vs. Quad City, Troy Rutkowski had three assists for Evansville vs. Cincinnati. They still lost to the Cyclones 6-4, despite Rutkowski's efforts.
-Rutkowski then added two more points (one goal and one assist) in Sunday's 6-4 Evansville win over Fort Wayne. He now has 16 points in 23 games, which places his in a tie for seventh overall in ECHL d-man scoring.

Winterhawks' Prospect News/Notes and Links:

-Kieffer Bellows is tearing it up for the USNTDP. He currently has 30 points in 23 games so far this year. His great play has warranted him an invite to the U.S. World Juniors camp this week. He is definitely an outside shot at making the team, as he is a 1998 born prospect on a team hat will likely be weighted with those that are one or two years older.
-Mitchell Mattson made an interesting choice this season. Apparently, after finishing last season and starting this year with Bloomington of the USHL, Mattson decided to return to play high school hockey for Grand Rapids High. After the high school hockey season end though he will heading back to play for Bloomington. For those hoping that he goes back on his commitment to the University of North Dakota, he has had his hart set on going there for a long time, according to this piece. Mattson is a list player for Portland and is projected to be drafted in the 2016 NHL draft. According to Central Scouting, he should be drafted  somewhere between rounds two and four.

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