Thursday, January 21, 2016

Portland Falls Short to Saskatoon 3-1, Then Gets "Daylight" Revenge on Vancouver 3-2

Saskatoon 3 Portland 1:
The Portland Winterhawks have been an up and down team this year, but there's been on thing they could almost always count on. When they play their best hockey, they almost always come away with the two points. That was not the case Saturday night, when Saskatoon came to town. The Winterhawks could not solve Blades' goalie Brock Hamm and fell 3-1 to the visiting East Division squad.

The growing trend this year, happened again Saturday night as Saskatoon opened the scoring in the first period. This time the goal was only 24 seconds into the game as Connor Gay's wrist shot from the high slot somehow fooled Adin Hill. He looked to have a good angle on the shot, but could not get his blocker up in time. Evan Weinger tied the game later in the first period in a similar way to the way they got the game winner the night before. Blake Heinrich once again surprised the opponent's defense and found a right handed, speedy forward on a long pass for a breakaway. This time, though it was Evan Weinger who zoomed in and beat Hamm for Portland's lone goal of the game.

Saskatoon again took a one-goal lead in the second period as a point shot from Anthony Bishop rebound off of Hill's pads into a crowd of players in front of the net. Logan Christensen got to the puck first and slipped it by Hill for the eventual game winner.

Saskatoon added an empty net goal in the third period from Mason McCarty to win 3-1, but not before Portland peppered a ton of shots on Hamm, including two different point-blank shots for Alex Overhardt, but could not solve the 18-year-old goalie.

Hamm got the Blades first win on their U.S. Division road trip, by stopping an amazing 45 of 46 shots. Hill, on the other side of the ice, stopped 22 of 24 shots.
Game Stats:

F/O %
McKenzie 0 0 0 3 0/1 0% 0 3 0
0 0 0 6 15/27 55.6% 1 0 0
Iverson 0 0 0 4 - - 3 2 0
0003 --100
Weinger1014 --000
Hughes00005/683.3%10 0
Texeira00 04--100
De Jong0001  --210

-Jack Dougherty had free reign throughout the game to shoot as he fired eight shots on Hamm. He did a great job of finding lanes to get his shots through, but unfortunately for Portland, Hamm did an even better job of controlling rebounds to the corners.
-Colton Veloso has served as the left wing, while Skyler McKenzie plays up in the top-six with Dominic Turgeon and Keegan Iverson. While the line of McKenzie-Alex Overhardt-Evan Weinger played extremely well together, Veloso has done a great job of filling in. One thing that Veloso playing in that spot does, is give Portland a great defensive forward on their third line to match up with the other team's top lines. Portland seems to have had more success when they play their third line vs. the other team's most talented one, then when they match Turgeon's line against them.
-Another thing that has been noticeable over the past few weeks, has been how far along as a shut down unit Blake Heinrich and Jack Dougherty have come. Both of them have been solid all year in one-on-one scenarios, but that has now grown into them working seamlessly together when faced with odd-man rushes.
-Possibly the best Winterhawk chance late in the third, was taken away by the referee and not Hamm. Turgeon's shot tricked Hamm and instead of gloving the weak shot, he fumbled it and had it poked past him and into the net by Alex Schoenborn. It is likely that the ref expected Hamm to freeze the puck and blew the play dead in anticipation. Instead, Portland had the tying goal taken away.
-Another great chance for Portland was not saved by Hamm, but instead by forward Nick Zajac. Turgeon grabbed a rebound and made a heads up play as Hamm was down and out, by taking the puck and trying a wrap around. Zajac, saw this and flew over, making an incredible skate save.
-This was the second time only a couple weeks, that Weinger has scored the only goal for Portland in a loss. He really seems to have an engine that does not quit, even when the rest of his team cannot buy a goal.

Portland 3 Vancouver 2:
Portland, after having their short, two-game win streak snapped by Saskatoon, got back on right track, as they jumped out to two different two-goal leads, before holding on for a 3-2 win. Last time, the teams matched up during a daylight game in Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, Vancouver shut out the Winterhawks, by blocking shots and getting a stellar performance from Ryan Kubic. This time out they again were game for Portland, but were ultimately felled by a great individual goal from 16-year-old center-man Ryan Hughes.

Portland was able to pull off a minor coup in the game's opening frame, by not allowing a goal, as both teams tried to get their legs going for a 3pm start. The Giants gain did a fantastic job of risking life and limb by throwing themselves into Portland shooting lanes. The end result to start the game was a period where the Giants held the shot edge 13-7.

Portland opened the scoring in the second period on the power play. Rihards Bukarts made a slick pass to a covered Dominic Turgeon in the slot. The Detroit Red Wings' prospect did an amazing job of shielding the puck with his body, so he was able to get the shot off, beating  Kubic through the five-hole for the 1-0 lead. They later added to their lead as a wonderful forecheck from Skyler McKenzie allowed Turgeon to force a turnover, which he turned into a shot/pass off of Kubic's pad to a waiting Blake Heinrich. Turgeon did not have a passing lane on the play and smartly opted for a hard shot, that he knew would set up a driving Heinrich. Vancouver cut into Portland's lead later in the period as a point shot from Matt Barberis was deftly deflected by Taylor Crunk in front of Adin Hill. The goal was Crunk's fourth of the season, in his second stint with the Giants this year.

Portland again got the two-goal advantage going, as a nice pass form Carter Czaikowski allowed Ryan Hughes to burst into the Vancouver zone and the sensational rookie picked Kubic's glove-side to score the eventual game-winner. Vancouver got a goal from Matt Barberis on a point shot with under seven minutes to play, but strong defense by Portland late, allowed the Hawks to walk out with the win.

Adin Hill stopped 27 of 29 shots for the win, while Ryan Kubic made 24 saves on 27 shots. The Hawks' power play scored for the second time in three games and was 1/3 overall. Vancouver failed to get much going on their two chances and could not notch a goal on the man advantage.

Game Stats:


F/O %
McKenzie 0 1 1 0 - - 2 3 0
1 1 2 3 10/18 55.6% 1 0 0
Iverson 0 0 0 1 - - 4 0 0
0112 --300
Weinger0000 --305
Hughes10120/70%21 0
Texeira00 00--400
De Jong0111  --210

-Vancouver was without three of their best forwards as Ty Ronning, Tyler Benson and Carter Popoff were all out with injuries.
-It was the return of Jack Flaman to Portland as the 18-year-old center-man played in his first game back in the Rose City. He played last year for Portland in a fourth line role, but has garnered more ice-time with the Giants. On several occasions, he matched up with Dominic Turgeon and held his own. The two likely went at it a lot last year in practice for Portland.
-Hughes has not only made a lot of strides in his ability to set up his own shot, he's also done the same for his ability to set up his line-mates. He made an incredible pass to Brett Clayton that Kubic had to make an amazing stop on. His play, has just about singlehandedly allowed coach Jamie Kompon to cycle all four lines far more than he did last season.
-Great work down low by Portland's defensemen in this game, as Vancouver was not able to get much generated directly at the Portland net. The two goals they scored were from shots that Hill could not see coming from the point. I'd like to see more improvement by Portland's top-five d-men, at clearing out traffic, so Hill can see these shots. This is an incredibly difficult task, but it's one that if they get better at, could be the reason they make the second round or further in the playoffs.

Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Brandon Dubinsky scored a goal, assisted by Seth Jones and Columbus edged Colorado 2-1.
-Ty Rattie scored his second career NHL goal and it was the game-tying goal with 5:25 left. St. Louis went on to win in over time 4-3.
-Ryan Johansen had an assist as Nashville shut out Minnesota 3-0.
-Marian Hossa scored an empty net goal in a 5-2 Chicago win over Montreal. It was career goal number 494 for Hossa.
-Luca Sbisa returned to the lineup for Vancouver and Sven Baertschi opened the scoring in a 3-2 Vancouver OT loss to the New York Rangers.
-Seth Jones had two assists for Columbus in a 6-3 loss to Washington. Jones, who had one point over a 27 game span just prior to be trading and directly after, has a three-game point streak going.
-Joe Morrow notched his second assist of the year, in a 4-1 Boston win over Montreal.
-Braydon Coburn had the primary assist on the game-winning goal as Tampa Bay beat Edmonton 6-4.
-Ty Rattie scored his third goal of the year and St. Louis edged Detroit 2-1. In his most recent call up to the Blues, Rattie has three goals in four games.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Brendan Leipsic had a hat trick and an assist as Toronto beat St. John's 6-3. Leipsic also had a game misconduct in the game (so in essence-Brendan being Brendan).
-Craig Cunningham had an assist in a 4-3 Springfield loss to Hershey.
-Oliver Bjokstrand scored the eventual game winning goal as Lake Erie took down Chicago 4-2.
-Taylor Aronson had another assist as Milwaukee beat San Antonio 6-3.
-Taylor Leier had a power play goal and Lehigh Valley beat Bridgeport 4-1. Jason LaBarbera had 42 saves on 43 shots in the win.
-Craig Cunningham had an assist as Springfield got revenge on Hershey 3-2.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the only goal of the game for Lake Erie in a 3-1 loss to Rockford.
-Bjorkstrand scored a goal for his third straight game and then added another as Lake Erie fell to Grand Rapids 3-2. Over his team;s last three games, Bjorkstrand has scored four of their total seven goals.
-Brendan Leipsic had an assist and scored one of the prettiest overtime winners you will see all year.

Winterhawks in the ECHL:
Saturday 1/16:
-Thomas Frazee had an assist in a 5-3 Atlanta win over Greenville.
-Garrett Haar notched his eight assist of the year as Alaska edged South Carolina 5-4 in OT.
-Mac Carruth had very little scoring support as Indy was shut out 2-0 by Orlando. Carruth stopped 22 of 24 total shots in the loss.
-Miles Koules had an assist on the power play, as Quad City beat Evansville 2-1.
Sunday 1/17:
-Mac Carruth, while playing the second of back-to-back games for Indy, got the win, as he stopped 26 of 28 shots and Indy beat Wheeling 3-2.
-William Wrenn had three assists for Alaska, as they edged South Carolina 4-3.
-Brett Ponich had three assists as Kalamazoo blew out Quad City 7-2.
Tuesday 1/19:-Thomas Frazee scored a goal and added three assists and Atlanta beat Greenville 6-2. The four-point night was Frazee's first of the year in the ECHL and leaves him with six goals and 24 assists for 30 points in 39 games. His 24 assists leave him tied with William Wrenn for eight in the league.

Winterhawks' News:
-Rodrigo Abols (121) and Brendan De Jong (181) were both listed in the NHL's Central Scouting midterm rankings. Breaking it down then, Abols is being projected as a fourth or fifth round pick, while De Jong is projected as a sixth or seventh rounder. In my opinion, of the draft-eligible group of Evan Weinger, Alex Overhardt, Carter Czaikowski, Colton Veloso and Skyler McKenzie, Weinger has the best chance of a team taking a flier on him with a late round pick.
Winterhawks' Prospects:
-Protected list prospect Luke Voltin was interviewed by the Penticton Vees' website. He was traded twice this season within the BCHL and has landed on a team with top NHL draft prospects Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro. Voltin has 16 points in 33 games with the Vees.

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