Thursday, March 17, 2016

Portland Gets Three Pivotal Points Over Three Games Last Weekend

Turgeon had three points in Portland's win
Portland 5 Vancouver 2:
Portland started out last weekend with a big win over a team that has already been eliminated from the playoffs. They played a spirited affair with the Vancouver Giants, where they employed an effective forecheck en route to a 5-2 win.

Portland opened the scoring in the opening period on the power play. They scored when team captain Dominic Turgeon found a seam to shoot past Vancouver goalie Ryan Kubic, utilizing an Alex Schoenborn screen. Turgeon's shot was able to just sneak through Kubic's shoulder and arm.

Vancouver tied the game in the second period, off some fantastic play, by some of their youngest players. Dawson Holt, on the rush, fired a cross-ice pass to Ty Ronning, who found rookie Owen Hardy at the back door, completing a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal. Portland quickly responded on a three-on-two rush by their top line. Turgeon passed to Keegan Iverson and he was able to get Kubic to commit to his potential shot, before passing to Rodrigo Abols at the back door. Abols swiftly slammed the puck home and the Winterhawks were up 2-1. They added to their lead, later in the period, after Turgeon was able to dance around Kubic and tuck the puck in at the far post. He was set up after Rodrigo Abols made a slick move to give him some space. Abols has been magnificent this year at odd-man rushes. He either gets the defenseman to commit to his shot and thus find a teammate some room in behind the defense, or he gets them to commit to the pass and toe-drags to the middle, before firing a shot from a good shooting angle. The Winterhawks jumped out to a three-goal lead, off a great set-up by d-man Caleb Jones. The quick blue liner, got the defense to suck in on him, as he entered the Giants' zone, before finding Cody Glass, along the right post. Glass then found an onrushing Rihards Bukarts and the overage Latvian forward sniped a shot past Kubic.

At the end of the second period, Vancouver forward Chase Lang cross-checked Cody Glass up high, in the head area, leading to a near line brawl, as Portland's veterans jumped to the defense of their rookie forward.

In the third period Cody Glass took some revenge for the hit that he took earlier. He got into a dirty area near the Vancouver net and dug out the rebound of an Alex Schoenborn shot. He slipped the puck in for his 10th goal of the year. Vancouver got a little closer off a strange bounce. Radovan Bondra got a rebound at the near post and had an open net to look at, but missed it wide. The puck bounced off of the end-boards and went around to the far-post, where Trevor Cox was waiting. The overage play-maker put it home and got the Giants to within three. That would be as close as they would get.

Portland's Adin HIll stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced, while Vancouver's Ryan Kubic stopped 32 of the 37 shots that he faced.

Game Stats:

F/O %
Nagel0000 --404
De Jong0000  --110
Game Notes:
-Vancouver actually scored in the first period, but had the goal disallowed. T.J. Foster poked his shot past the Portland goalie, but very quickly and rightly had it taken away as Chase Lang had bumped into the Winterhawks' goalie.
-Carter Czaikowski showcased some of his improved outlet passing abilities. He caught the puck on his backhand in his own zone and in one motion, fired it the other way to an open teammate, near the Vancouver blue line. It is great to see how Brendan De Jong and Czaikowski have improved over the past couple years at getting the puck rapidly out of their end and into the other team's. This is one tenement of coach Jamie Kompon's system and these two have totally embraced it.
-Ryan Hughes took 14 draws, which is a season and obviously career-high. This is mostly due to the fact that Kompon had him and Colton Veloso skating with Skyler McKenzie nearly as much as his set linemates Alex Overhardt and Tanner Nagel. It's starting to look like Ryan Hughes has nearly or just as much of Kompon's trust as Overhardt does.
-This is especially true, after Overhardt was scratched, Portland's last time out (likely healthy enough to play). I think Kompon thinks that Overhardt has not scored enough or done enough for the team this year and it's hard to disagree with him. Overhardt and Evan Weinger are both in their 18-year-old season and were expected to take huge steps forward offensively this year. They both have shown the potential time and time again, but have gone games at a time without getting any points.
-Cody Glass's transition into a great two-way center has been great to watch this year. He did a great job in this game, at moving his feet along the boards and winning tough battles in his own zone. He also had two different great back-checking moments that you do not see a 16-year-old do very often.
Donovan Neuls scored the game-winner Saturday
Seattle 3 Portland 2: 
Portland hosted Seattle on Saturday night and while their players blocked 16 shots, two of the others they attempted to block ended up going off of them and past their bewildered goalie Adin Hill.

The Thunderbirds opened the scoring early in the game after Scott Eansor won a battle against Keoni Texeira and got the puck to Nolan Volcan in front. Volcan then got a quick backhand on that went top shelf on Hill. Portland tied the game on the power play, after moving the puck around beautifully. Jack Dougherty fired a cross-ice pass to Dominic Turgeon and the Hawks' captain picked the corner on Seattle's Landon Bow. 

Seattle took another lead in the second period, as Ryan Gropp got a little redemption. The N.Y. Rangers' prospect had been benched by Seattle, after taking only one shift in the period, after something he did must have angered Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk. Gropp received a pass in the right slot and had his shot on Hill, deflect off of Caleb Jones and past Portland's goalie. After some good work by Keegan Iverson earned Portland a power play, they were able to tie the game again. Keoni Texeira's point shot was deflected by Rodrigo Abols and past Bow. The goal was scored just after the penalty had expired. Seattle took their third lead of the game, later in the period, as Donovan Neuls found a loose puck near the Portland net and had his shot deflect off of Texeira and past Adin Hill. On both Texeira's and Jones's attempted blocks, they were out of position and desperately tried to get their bodies on the shots. One thing I've noticed with Adin Hill, is that when you get closer towards the net, he almost prefers that his d-men not try to block the shot. It's one thing when the shot is coming from the blue line, but quite another, when its a lot closer and Hill does not have time to react if it takes an abrupt turn. 

Seattle actually had the better of possession in the third period and had a lot of good looks at Adin Hill that the Hawks' goalie was able to stop. Portland's best chance to tie the game came, after they pulled Hill for an extra attacker with just over a minute left. Rihards Bukarts jumped up into the play and collected a pass that had been behind it's intended target. He then fired a shot high to Bow's right that Seattle's goalie was just able to get his blocker on and deflect away from danger. 

Bow stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced, while Adin Hill was able to stop 44 of the 47 shots he faced.
Game Stats:

F/O %
Nagel0004 --200
Veloso0001 --120
Hughes0001 7/1163.6%120
Jones0112--3 0 0
De Jong0001  --2 10
Game Notes:
-Tanner Nagel rocked Seattle rookie d-man Jarret Tyszka, while fore-checking in the Seattle zone and the blue liner was forced to leave the game. It appeared that Nagel had caught him just awkwardly enough that he hurt his shoulder while colliding with the boards. While a bottom pairing d-man with Seattle, the big, rookie is a good puck-mover and will be missed if he misses any serious time.
-Portland blocked four shots on their very first penalty kill, which is an impressive feat.
-Rihards Bukarts' speed really is causing some trouble for Seattle. The previous time out, he blew past Seattle d-man Ethan Bear, on his way to scoring and this time he blew past Turner Ottenbreit, but could not quite get his shot on net, after he also beat Bow.
-Seattle's Jared Hauf was really committed to throwing the big hit in this game. A couple times though, his quest for throwing the big hit, took him way out of position. This is something Portland should've capitalized on more.
-Another way that Portland could and in this case did take advantage of Seattle being too aggressive was on the power play. Seattle employs a very aggressive penalty kill, in which they put a lot of high pressure on Portland's blue liners. It usually works, but in the case of Portland's first goal, it came back to bite them.
Everett's Juulsen scored the OT winner Sunday

Everett 3 Portland 2 (OT):
Portland next took on their possible first round opponent the Everett Silvertips. They were unable to take advantage of the resting of starting Everett goalie Carter Hart, as his backup Mario Petit played a stellar game, making several spectacular saves en route to a 3-2 Everett win. The Silvertips took the game, as Noah Juulsen saw the tired Hawks changing, and completed the three-on-two rush, by beating Adin Hill with a shot to the top corner. Juulsen was all over the ice for Everett, throwing big hits and creating offensively, so it was somewhat fitting that he finished the game off.

Everett opened the scoring in the game, as Adin Hill gave up a goal on a wrist shot from Brian King. The rookie forward has only four goals this year, but three of them are against Hill and the Hawks. King's shot did not look particularly hard, but just fooled Hill enough that he snuck his shot over Hill's shoulder. This was the third unscreened wrist shot, over the past two games, that Hill has allowed. If Everett is indeed Portland's first round opponent, Hill's play will need to be better vs. the 'Tips.

Everett extended their lead to two in the second period off a power move from Russian import forward Yan Khomenko. He beat Blake Heinrich to the puck and powered past, the usually sturdy overage d-man and Adin Hill, to tuck a shot in on the far post. Heinrich has been Portland's most reliable d-man in one-on-one circumstances, but he completely misplayed this situation and was out-maneuvered Khomenko.

Portland's offensive game, which up until about five minutes into the third period had been completely absent, finally roared to life. They cut the Everett lead to one when Rodrigo Abols forced Juulsen to turn the puck over right by Petit and the big Latvian forward, snapped a shot over Petit's shoulder. It did appear that Abols got his stick into Juulsen's hands and I was honestly surprised he did not get called for the hooking penalty. The game then sprung into more of a back and forth style which is something Portland is definitely more used to playing. They tied the game when Rihards Bukarts took a very nice cross-ice pass and then deked around Petit, putting a shot off of the near post. He then quickly batted home the rebound, before anyone could react. Portland definitely had the better of the play from that point and Dominic Turgeon, very well could have won the game for Portland late as he ended up with a rebound right on his stick and an open net to shoot at. He fired the puck wide, letting the Silvertips escape into overtime.

The long change, is ultimately what felled Portland in the extra session as one of their players had changed, right before Juulsen charged up the ice and took advantage.

Everett's Petit got the rare start and a win as he stopped 26 of 28 shots. Hill got the loss, only stopping 23 of 26.

Game Stats:

F/O %
Schoenborn0111--102 0
Nagel0001 --310
Weinger0001 --402
Hughes0000 4/666.7%200
Jones0111--11 0
De Jong0000  --3 00
Game Notes:
-Blake Heinrich, despite the one play, where he really could have made a big difference with a hit, did end up throwing 11 hits in the game (a season high).
-Adin Hill tied a franchise record by getting the start with 63. He is certain to break the record his next time out and could even reach 66.
-Mario Petit made an amazing splits save late in the game too and he did a fantastic job of not allowing any rebounds on Portland's shots.
-Everett's third line has been making an impact against Portland. King and co. nearly scored another early goal and accounted for a lot of their best puck possession over the first two periods.
-Evan Weinger's second game back from injury and he is not doing himself any favors in his hopes to get himself back in the coach's favor. He committed a minor penalty in each of his games since returning, both leading to Everett power plays.
-Portland ended up with 28 shots, but only had 13, total after two periods. This is the second straight game vs. Everett and third over their last four meetings, where they have fallen behind early, behind lackluster performances in the first couple periods. This is the most urgent thing they will need to correct, if they do face the Silvertips in the playoffs.
-Portland's next game is Friday night vs. Spokane, where a lot will be on the line. If they win, they will clinch third place and a trip to Everett to open the playoffs on Friday, March 26th. If they lose, they will have opened the door to Spokane and will need a win or two over the very hot Seattle Thunderbirds to clinch.

Winterhawks in the NHL:Game Notes:
-Nino Niederreiter scored his 15th of the season and added an assist, while Matt Dumba assisted on another goal, as Minnesota took down Montreal 4-1.
-Sven Baertschi scored his 14th on the year and the Vancouver Canucks were too much for the Nashville Predators, beating them 4-2.
 -Ryan Johansen had an assist for Nashville as the Predators edged Edmonton 3-2.
-Nino Niederreiter scored again for Minnesota, but the Wild fell to Ottawa 3-2 in overtime.
-Marian Hossa scored his 497th career NHL goal and the Chicago Blackhawks lost to Philadelphia 3-2.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-It was mostly Grand Rapids, in their win over Manitoba, but Chase De Leo did find the net for the Moose in their 7-2 loss.
-Brendan Leipsic set up two for the Marlies' nine goals in their 9-2 blow out win over Portland.
-Lehigh Valley fell to Hartford 4-2, as Jason LaBarbera stopped 43 of 47 shots and Taylor Leier notched an assist.
-Craig Cunningham notched an assist as Springfield edged Portland in the shoot out 3-2. He failed to score on his shootout chance.
-Brendan Leipsic set up another goal for Toronto, but they fell to Providence 3-2.
-Ty Rattie scored once and added two assists as Chicago took down Milwaukee 4-2.
-Tyler Wotherspoon had an assist for Stockton as they fell to Texas 3-2.
-Brendan Leipsic scored for Toronto, extending his point streak to four-games, but the Marlies lost again, this time to Albany 3-2.
-Travis Ehrhardt had an assist for Utica and they beat Providence 5-3.
-Two-game point streak for Oliver Bjorkstrand as he scored for Lake Erie in their 4-2 win over San Antonio.
-Taylor Aronson had an assist for Milwaukee in their 5-1 victory over Iowa.

Winterhawks in the ECHL:
-Cam Reid had two points (goal and an assist) and Kevin Young had one (assist) and Reading blew out Manchester 5-1.
-Mac Carruth stopped 29 of 31 shots for Indy and the Fuel fell in overtime to Evansville 2-1.
-Three more assists for William Wrenn, which makes 37 on the season for the Aces' captain. Alaska beat Fort Wayne 5-4 in the shoot out. He is second in the entire in ECHL in d-man scoring with 41 points in 57 games played.
-Cam Reid scored, added an assist and was a +4 on the night and Reading took down Manchester again, 7-4. Kevin Young also added two assists in the Royals' win.
-Tristan King scored the eventual game-winning goal for Allen, as they beat Wichita 6-3. Miles Koules had two assists for the Thunder in their loss.
-Mac Carruth struggled this time out vs. Evansville, stopping only 21 of 26 shots he faced in the Fuel's 6-2 loss to Evansville. Troy Rutkowski  had an assist in the IceMen's win.
-Gasper Kopitar scored for Manchester, as they broke their losing streak, beating Elmira 3-1.
-Allen took down Wichita again 3-2, but in the loss, Miles Koules added two more assists. Tristan King scored for the Americans in their win.
-Kevin Young set up the game-winning goal for Reading as they shut out Adirondack 1-0.
-William Wrenn notched two assists for Alaska in their 4-2 win over Wichita. Miles Koules had a goal and an assist for the Thunder in their loss.
-Wichita broke their losing streak behind two goals from Miles Koules. They took down Alaska 5-1. Koules now has a four-game point streak going and has nine points in seven games since being traded to Wichita. In his previous 44 games with Quad City, he had only 13 points.

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