Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday's Portland Winterhawks' News and Notes: Tri-City and Spokane Doing Portland Favors

While Portland has not been the red-hot team in the U.S. Division (that is Seattle, who has won eight straight), they are definitely not in the situation that the two teams behind them in the standings are in.

While Spokane is just one point behind Portland for the coveted third seed in the U.S. Division, they are losing players left and right. They have been without overage center Wyatt Johnson, who is suffering from an upper-body injury and 17-year-old forward Kailer Yamamoto for a few weeks now. Added to that list now are overage d-man Jason Fram, top-four blue-liner Evan Fiala, depth forward Jacob Cardiff and rookie forward Ethan McIndoe. Cardiff, Fiala and Fram are expected to be out for a long period of time, along with Johnson. In their last five games, the Chiefs have dropped four and have only scored a total of seven goals. Despite only being a point behind Portland with seven games left, they do not appear to be in a position to overtake the Winterhawks.

Tri-City meanwhile, has given up 11 goals over their past two games against Seattle and while they beat Everett 5-3 last weekend, the two losses vs. Seattle, along with the loss to Portland in the last week, has them needing a whole lot of help to get into the playoffs. They are five points out and play one of their last six games tonight vs. Kamloops. If they lose in regulation to Kamloops, they are all but finished, especially if Spokane gets a win Wednesday over the Blazers.

Tonight in Everett:
-Portland plays the ninth game in their 10-game season series vs. Everett this year tonight at Xfinity arena. They have won five of the eight so far and thus are just one win from clinching the series win. More importantly than the season series is developing some momentum against a club that certainly appears to be working towards getting locked in as Portland's first round opponent.
If Portland can find a way to get wins in the last two games vs. Everett, they will not only have delivered a message to their first-round opponent, by winning seven of 10 this year, they will have a small shot at actually overtaking the Silvertips for second in the division and earn home-ice advantage.
Right now they sit nine points back of Everett though, with only seven games left to play. Even with all four points, Portland would need to gain five points more than Everett in the other five games (not likely).
Defenseman Brycen Martin and forward Dawson Leedahl are both nearing return from injury for Everett. Riley Sutter and MacKenzie Dwyer are looking at longer returns than those two, but are not relied upon as much as Martin and Leedahl are. Evan Weinger is still battling an injury, but should return soon for the Winterhawks. 
Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Tyler Wotherspoon got recalled to the Calgary Flames again today. Just last week he played with Calgary on their four-game road trip and now he is back with the team, as a replacement for the injured Jakub Nakladal.

Winterhawks in the AHL Monday:
-Chase De Leo fired seven shots on net and assisted on the lone Manitoba goal as the Moose fell to Iowa 2-1.

Winterhawks' Prospects:
-Listed forward Ryan Poehling played in his first game in the USHL this last weekend. He debuted for the Lincoln Stars who took him with the number one pick in last summer's USHL Futures Draft. The 1999 born forward had finished his season with Lakeville North High School, where he had 54 points in 25 games. He then had eight points in three playoff games as his team fell to Farmington a couple weeks ago in Minnesota's 2A state semi-finals. In his debut with Lincoln, Poehling had an assist. He is committed to attend St. Cloud State University starting in 2017.

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