Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Winterhawks' Prospect List Completed

Signed prospect Jake Hobson in action
Winterhawks Prospects:
-I have finally completed a project I have been working on in the off-season. This project is a full list of all of the players listed on Portland's protected list/prospect list.
-I have included: their name, position, birth year, whether they have signed with Portland, whether they have committed (verbal or written) with an NCAA school, their 2015/16 stats, NHL draft related information and any other notes I found interesting.
-I am going to try and keep this updated at least once a month.
Here is the link:
-Of note is the fact that 1996 born prospects Jared Fiegl, Fredrik Olofsson, Ryan Collins, Jack Glover and Ryan Norman, will likely be removed soon, as it is very unlikely that they would come to Portland as on overage player for the 2016/17 season.

Winterhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
-Colton Sceviour and the Dallas Stars took game one over Nino Niederreiter and Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild 4-0. Sceviour skated 16:30 of ice time, logging three shots on net and blocking a team-high four shots. Nino led the Wild in shots with four and was an overall minus one. Dumba had two shots on net and was an overall minus three in 14:54 of ice time. He was stopped by Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen's helmet on a great look on one of his shots. Dumba also threw a nice open-ice check on a Dallas forward. Game two is Saturday in Dallas.

-Braydon Coburn got his second assist in as many games, as he helped set up a Jonathan Drouin goal, giving Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead over Detroit. They would go on to win 5-2.
-Marian Hossa skated 15:22 of ice time and fired four shots on net, in Chicago's big game two, 3-2 win over St. Louis. This win knotted the series at a game apiece.
-Ryan Johansen threw a hit and set up James Neal for Nashville's opening goal and they would go on to score late and edge Anaheim 3-2 in game one of that series. Paul Gaustad went 4/6 at the face off dot, with some of those wins coming late with the Predators holding onto a one-goal lead.
-Matt Dumba and Nino Niederreiter's Minnesota Wild dropped game two to Dallas 2-1, meaning they would be headed to Minnesota in a 2-0 series hole. Dumba got his first assist of the playoffs on the Wild's lone goal   and was a minus one with one shot on net in 12:19 of ice time. Nino had two shots and was a minus one in 14:20 of total ice time.
-Marian Hossa and Chicago dropped game three to St. Louis 3-2, after holding a 2-1 lead going into the third period. Hossa still has zero points in the playoffs and was a minus one with two shots in 15:45 total ice time.
-Braydon Coburn and Tampa Bay dropped game three to Detroit 2-0 and now hold a 2-1 series lead. Coburn committed two minor penalties and was a minus two in the loss.
-Ryan Johansen and Paul Gaustad's Nashville squad took a surprising 2-0 series lead on Anaheim with a 3-2 win in game two. Johansen had three shots on net and threw three hits in 19:25 of total ice time. Meanwhile, Gaustad improved on game one and was 5/6 at the face off dot.
-Taylor Leier was called up by Philadelphia prior to their game three 6-1 loss to Washington. He did not play and is not likely to see much action as his call up was one of many after Lehigh Valley's season ended. Leier played 71 games in the AHL, notching 20 goals and 29 assists for 49 points. This was good for second overall on his team.
-Nino Niederreiter was a force for Minnesota as he set up two goals in the second period that swung the game from a one-goal Dallas lead to a one-goal Minnesota lead. The Wild went on to win 5-3. Colton Sceviour deflected a shot in off his shoulder, getting him his second career NHL playoff goal. Matt Dumba also notched an assist for Minnesota.
Winterhawks in the Kelly Cup Playoffs:
-Taylor Peters and the Idaho Steelheads took game one over Tristan King and the Allen Americans 3-1. Peters was a minus one and fired one shot on net, while King tied for a team-high with four shots on net.
Cam Reid

-Anton Cederholm, Brett Ponich and the Kalamazoo Wings dropped game one to South Carolina 4-1. Cederholm was minus one and Ponich was minus two and the former had a team-high four shots on net.
-Gasper Kopitar and Manchester fell to 0-2 in their series with Adirondack, with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Thunder. Kopitar was minus two with one shot on net.
-Cam Reid scored the game winner with just over five minutes to play and added an assist as Reading took game one over Toledo 4-3. Reid also added an assist for a two-point night. Kevin Young was minus one with one shot for the Royals.
-Reading fell behind Toledo 4-3 in game two, but made it a game with three goals, before losing 4-3. Cam Reid had two assists in the loss. Young was minus one with two more shots.
-The K-Wings dropped to 0-2 in their series, losing to South Carolina 5-2.  Anton Cederholm was minus one with two shots, while Brett Ponich was minus two.
-Gasper Kopitar and Manchester dropped game three to Adirondack 4-2 and the Slovenian sniper was a scratch in the game.
-Tristan King and Allen took game two 3-1 over Idaho, knotting their series at a game apiece. The defending champs got a shot from King.
-Anton Cederholm, Brett Ponich and the K-Wings took game three 5-3 and the big d-men were much better statistically. Cederholm had three shots and was a plus one, while Ponich got into a fight with South Carolina's Bobby Shea.
-Kopitar was again scratched but Manchester staved off elimination against Adirondack 2-1 in game four.
-The eighth-seeded Reading Royals took a 2-1 series lead over the top-seeded Toledo Walleyes, by beating them 4-2. Kevin Young had an assist and two shots, while Cam Reid was a minus one with one shot on net. Game four goes Wednesday.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Catching up on Winterhawks' News

So, I have taken a bit of a break from the ole' blog the last week or so, but am returning to catch you all up on Winterhawks' related goings on throughout the world of hockey. After all, just because Portland's season is over, does not mean that there are not some interesting news out there that relates to the Hawks.

Two Winterhawks' Prospects Fall Short of Telus Cup:
-Signed Portland Winterhawk, 2000 born forward Ilijah Colina won the BCMML title with the Valley West Hawks, but fell just short of the Telus Cup. His Hawks lost to the Lloyminster Bobcast in the AAA Pacific Regionals 4-1 and 5-3, to lose 2-0, in their best-of-three series. The Bobcats will now represent the Pacific region at Canada's national midget tournament.
-Meanwhile, over in the West region, Manitoba Midget AAA goalie of the year Matt Radomsky had a limited role in the West Regional Final, which has a very different set up than the Pacific does. In the west, four teams get together and play in a round-robin style tournament, narrowing down to a final between two team. Winnipeg made the final and fell in an epic, double overtime game 4-3 to the Saskatoon Contacts.

Caleb Jones and Adin Hill Ink Pro Deals:
-Caleb Jones was signed by the Edmonton Oilers and the turned around and inked an Amateur Try Out (ATO) with their AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. So far he has gotten into two games with Bakersfield; firing three total shots on net, while posting an overall minus two. It looks like the Condors will finish on the outside of the playoffs, meaning Jones has two games left to impress the Oilers' management. Jones will return for one more season with the Winterhawks, as he is a '97 born player and will be in his 19-year-old season next year.
-Adin Hill, to the surprise of many, signed an Entry Level Contract (ELC) with the Arizona Coyotes. This likely means that he will not return as an NHL signed overage next season. He has played in two games so far with the Coyotes' AHL affiliate; the Springfield Falcons. In his first start on April ninth, he allowed six goals on 28 shots and was handed a 6-2 loss in his pro debut. He then started tonight in Providence and...Look for Hill to start next season in the AHL with Springfield, though it is fairly common for signed goalies to return to their WHL team, as there are not a lot of spots to go around. We will know much more, when Arizona's goalie situation is ironed out around when free agency is going on this summer.

Rihards Bukarts Signs an ATO with Portland (AHL):
-Meanwhile, overage forward Rihards Bukarts is getting what is essentially a tryout with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. He has yet to see any action, but Portland will be in the playoffs, likely against the Hershey Bears, so we will keep an eye on them to see if injuries allow him to show his stuff.

Paul Bittner to See AHL Action:
-Paul Bittner has been activated by Columbus's AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters and could see some action for the first time since December 2nd, when he was injured in a game against Prince George. This is a great sign that his recovery from hip surgery is going well. He made his debut tonight and fired two shots on net in a 3-1 win over Charlotte.

Schoenborn Released by San Jose (AHL), Picked up by Allen (ECHL):
-Alex Schoenborn got into exactly one game with San Jose of the AHL, before he was quickly sent down to Allen of the ECHL. This could have been to get him some playoff action as Allen is playing in the post-season, while San Jose is not. Alex got an assist in his first game with Allen and has one shot and is a minus two, in two games with the Americans. Schoenborn and the Americans are the four seed in the West and are taking on the Idaho Steelheads in round one.

Eight Former Winterhawks in the NHL Playoffs and Eight More in the Kelly Cup Playoffs (ECHL)

Marian Hossa (Chicago) is taking on St. Louis in the first round in the Central Division bracket. The Blackhawks dropped game one to St. Louis 1-0 in overtime last night.
-Hossa had 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points in an injury-plagued season. He is just one goal short of 500, so there is little doubt he will return for a 19th NHL season. He currently 144 career playoff points in 195 post-season games. He's been to five Cup Finals, winning three of them.

Colton Sceviour (Dallas) takes on Nino Niederreiter and Matt Dumba (Minnesota)
-Sceviour had a slight drop off in points in his second full season in the NHL. He went from 26 points in his rookie year to 23, but did score a career high 11 times. This will be his first NHL post-season action, though back in 2010, he went all the way to the Calder Cup Final with Texas, where they fell in six games to Hershey.
-Nino was able to play in all 82 games for the Wild, notching a career high in points with 43. In 23 career NHL playoff games he has seven goals and four assists for 11 points, including a game seven overtime winner.
-Dumba, meanwhile cemented his status as a top-six NHL d-man with a career high in goals and points with 10 and 26 respectively. He will have his hands full in his own end as Dallas trots out their elite goal-scorers.
Ryan Johansen and Paul Gaustad (Nashville) will attempt to upset Anaheim, the West's top seed
-It was an eventful season for Johansen, as he was traded to Nashville from Columbus and took awhile to get comfortable before finding some chemistry with James Neal. He had a total of 14 goals and 46 assists for 60 points between the two squads, which is his worst full NHL season.
-Meanwhile, Gaustad in a fourth line, checking line center role, had two goals and four assists for six points in 63 games.
Braydon Coburn (Tampa Bay) helped take game one, 3-2 over Detroit, by jumping up into the play and setting up Nikita Kucherovs' game-tying, second period goal. He is not relied upon for his offense normally though, as he had one goal and nine assists for 10 points all season. Game two will be his 100th career NHL post-season game.

Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh) will get his first taste of the NHL playoffs as as the Penguins match up with the N.Y. Rangers.
-How much action he will actually see, will be an interesting topic to follow. Even with his team skating seven d-men last night in their 5-2 game one win over the Rangers, he was scratched. After turning in an All-Star half-season in the AHL, he was called up and has only gotten into 22 games, notching seven assists. More than likely, he will just be along for the ride with the Penguins during this post-season run.

Former Winterhawks in the Kelly Cup Playoffs (ECHL):
Gasper Kopitar (Manchester) takes on Adirondack
-Kopitar only played 12 games in total with the Winterhawks, as he struggled to be a factor at the WHL level. It appears he is finally hitting his stride in the ECHL though, as he had a career high 33 points in 57 games. He had an assist in game one last night; a game the Monarchs dropped 3-2.
Anton Cederholm  and Brett Ponich (Kalamazoo) vs. South Carolina
-Cederholm had three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in his first professional season. His plus 18 is impressive, considering Kalamazoo is a lowly seventh seed in the playoffs.
-Ponich, meanwhile had two goals and 16 assists for 18 points, which is his most as a pro.
Cam Reid and Kevin Young (Reading) vs. Toledo
-Reid got three different tastes of AHL action with three different teams, but ultimately landed back in the ECHL with Reading. He had 48 points in 58 total ECHL games, good for second overall on his team.
-Young was second on the team in defensmen scoring with seven goals and 25 assists for 32 points. As a 33-year-old he's certainly reaching what could be the end of his pro career, but is certainly still an impact d-man.
Tristan King and Alex Schoenborn (Allen) face off with Taylor Peters (Idaho)
-King was seventh on the Americans in scoring with 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points. He will try and help Allen repeat as Kelly Cup champions.
-Schoenborn could see very limited action, as he only got into the last two games of the year, notching one assist.
-Peters had an injury-plagued season, only playing in 29 games and notching seven goals and eight assists for 15 points.

Friday, April 1, 2016

No Foolin! Jamie Kompon Let Go as Head Coach and General Manager

There it is folks, the news a lot of fans wanted/were expecting has been announced. Portland's head coach and general manager for the past two seasons was let go today. His final record with Portland was 77-54-8-5 during the regular season and 10-11 in the post-season. He took the Hawks to the Western Conference final in 2015 and was on the bad end of a sweep at the hands of Everett this season.

In Defense of Kompon:
While I do not disagree with Kompon being let go, you have to realize that he had a lot of bad luck that did not help his hopes of staying as coach/general manager for long. Here are a few of the things that hurt Kompon, that he had little or no control over.
  1. Following a legend- He was hired after Mike Johnston had come in and resurrected a franchise that was on life support. Johnston recommended Kompon, a close friend, for the job, but that did little to help his standing with the fans overall. He also had to follow in Johnston's foot steps with the more tenured players. A lot of Portland's players were recruited by Johnston and co. and stepped away from college scholarships from big NCAA hockey schools, because of what Johnston and Portland offered. While Johnston was coaching in Portland, you could count on them listing some of the best talent in the U.S. and
  2. Losing skid to start his tenure- The Winterhawks lost nine of his first 10 games on the bench. Most of this was due to the absence of as many as nine keys players at points during that stretch, including Oliver Bjorkstrand and Nic Petan. A lot of fans were already losing patience with him, before he had even been a head coach for 10 games. Kompon received little credit for turning the team around leading them to within spitting distance of the Everett Silvertips and winning 24 of their final 33 regular seaosn games. The team also bought into his system that year and he got them to play hard both ways, en route to a run all the way to the Conference Final.
  3. Not a lot of draft picks- Prior to being in Portland, the team had their first round picks taken away through Kompon's entire time here(Portland did acquire one via trade-Cody Glass). Not only did he not have the picks that were taken by the league, Portland traded away a lot of their others for players who have already graduated out (Matt Dumba etc.). Key to a lot of Johnston's success were first round bantam picks Ty Rattie, Derrick Pouliot and Nic Petan. Kompon did not have these same tools. Johnston also took awhile to be able to recruit around the U.S. Kompon did not have the time to make these in-roads.
  4. Mike Johnston getting canned in Pittsburgh- Immediately after Johnston lost the room with the Penguins and was let go, fans were clamoring for his return to the team. Kompon then had to endure his presence while Johnston sat in his home, only a few hours away and contemplated his next move. Johnston was even reportedly scouting for Portland and even made a visit to the Rose City. Without Johnston committing to another gig, fans were left to hope that their "savior" would come back. This attitude may well have entered the room as well, especially among parents who had Johnston recruit their kid to come play for Portland.
  5. Turgeon and Bittner getting injured- Just two games in the post-season, Dominic Turgeon was forced by the NHL team that had his rights to call it quits on the season, due to a needed shoulder surgery. This meant Kompon was without a key player and voice in the room. Even before that, the guy who was expected to lead the way offensively for Portland, Paul Bittner, was injured during a trip to Prince George and missed the last three months of the season.
Why He Was Fired:
-Despite all of these excuses, this is a results based business and Portland lost 11 of their last 14 games, while looking awful doing it(including the post-season). In the playoffs, they endured the first sweep for the franchise since Bill Clinton was president and were just completely shut down by a team that boasted only one NHL drafted player. Kompon appeared to have lost the room, as Portland's effort level dwindled as the season went and plunged to a new depth in the post-season. By the end, Portland's experienced players seemed to have little drive with a few expecting AHL contract money as soon as the season ended. Also, it was painstakingly clear which coach still owned his locker room in their first round series, as Everett's Kevin Constantine had his team playing their system to a "T", while Kompon could not get even his oldest players to back-check.
-Player development also appeared to have been an issue as a couple key Winterhawks had their point totals dip, instead of increase as they usually do (Keegan Iverson, Keoni Texeira).
-Recruiting among U.S. players appears to have stalled (I know I gave him a pass for that, but still). Recently we watched top goalie prospect Keegan Karki commit to the University of North Dakota, instead of the WHL (Portland has his rights).
-The biggest reason though for me that Kompon was let go, is that Portland is certainly headed for a rebuild and they clearly wanted to go in a new direction for that rebuild. There was little patience among fans to deal with a rebuild under Kompon and a new voice was clearly needed to lead that rebuild. Who that voice is, we will see within the coming weeks.

Everett Controls Game, Series, Sweeps Portland with a 4-2 Game Four Win

Cole MacDonald had two goals in Everett's series clinching win
Everett had Portland backed into a corner Wednesday night in the Rose City. They had played three games so far against, Portland, where their style had stifled Portland's offense and their offense had scored pivotal goals at all the right times, leading to three straight wins. The Winterhawks were faced with possibly not just losing their first playoff series to a U.S. Division rival since 2005, but the first time they would be on the losing end of a sweep since losing four straight in the first round to Tri-City in 1999. There are a lot of similarities between that season and this one. That team was also loaded with NHL drafted talent and fell short of expectations. The Winterhawks have played in 30 playoff series since last being swept nearly two decades ago by the Americans.

In Game Four, Everett matched Portland's two power play goals from defensemen, with two of their own (from the same guy) and added a goal each from Brandon Ralph and Connor Dewar to end Portland's season before April for the first time since 2005.

Everett got an early five-on-three power play and while they could not score up two men, they did after one of Portland's penalized players had returned to the ice, but not into the play. The goal was scored when Cole MacDonald was set up with a one-timer that he beat a well screened Adin Hill with. This was the fourth straight game in the series that Everett scored first. Portland got a power play goal back moments later, as Blake Heinrich utilized good puck movement and a wonderful screen in front by Keegan Iverson to beat Everett goalie Carter Hart. This game marked Western Conference Goalie of the Year Hart's first entrance into the series as he replaced Mario Petit, who won the first three-games for the 'Tips.

The Winterhawks attempted to get the game into a more up-and-down style and were burned by the results. After a Portland chance failed, Connor Dewar and Patrick Bajkov burst out on an odd-man rush the other way and Dear sniped one past Hill for a 2-1 lead. Portland got that goal back too as Cody Glass, after getting his shot blocked, smartly found Keoni Texeira and the d-man beat Hart on the glove-side for the Hawks second power play goal. Keegan Iverson again provided an eclipse-like screen in front of the net, on Hart. As had been the case for the previous three games in the series, Everett took all of the momentum away from Portland, before the third period started. After Rihards Bukarts's backhand clearance attempt went straight out of play, necessitating a delay-of-game penalty, the Silvertips got another power play goal from Cole MacDonald. With only 32 seconds left in the period, Everett stacked bodies in the view of Hill, not allowing him to see the shot.

Everett again frustrated Portland in the third period, stacking up play along the boards and refusing to allow any good scoring chances on Hart. Cole MacDonald provided the second of two shot-blocks on slap shots from the point and his gutsy effort on Everett's penalty kill in the early-going allowed the Silvertips to slow any momentum Portland had to start the third period. The 'Tips then used their one good rush up ice in the third period, to add some insurance. Brian King and Brandon Ralph surged in on a two-on-one and Adin Hill let out a terrible rebound on King's shot, which Ralph tapped in for his third goal of the series. Portland earned a four-minute power play to end the game, but could not get any looks, nor did there seem to be much of a sense of urgency on Portland's part to get the puck on or near the net. The Silvertips again blocked shots and won board battles, to close out a series sweep of Portland.

Carter Hart was stellar in his first game in a couple weeks, stopping 29 of 31 shots and getting his first playoff win. Adin Hill, meanwhile was able to stop 30 of the 34 shots that he faced.

Game Stats:
Link here.

Game Notes:
-The last games for Portland or all three 20-year-olds and signed 19-year-old. Rihards Bukarts, Alex Schoenborn and Blake Heinrich all aged out of the WHL and Jack Dougherty, Dominic Turgeon and Paul Bittner will not return as NHL signed overage players next season. Adin Hill and Keegan Iverson are also both drafted by NHL teams, but neither is signed as of yet, so we will not know whether they will return next season quite yet.
-The award for most snake-bitten Winterhawk in the series goes to Rodrigo Abols. He had two great looks in tight in this one and was turned away on both of them. The latter was late in the third period and would have been a big goal. Abosls used his big frame and quick shot to get many great looking shots on Everett's goalies. Unfortunately, he was not able to bury any of them.
-Blake Heinrich, who has been one of Portland's most physical players all year, will likely remember two of the plays where he was not physical enough. There was the eventual game-winner from game three and a play in the early going that would have been a goal from Remi Laurencelle, if not for a great stop by Hill in game four.
-Everett's top line of Carson Stadnyk, Remi Laurencelle and Dawson Leedahl simply dominated Portland's top line all series. A big reason that this happened was the fact that Everett's top line has played together for the better part of two seasons, while Portland coach Jamie Kompon had just put Skyler McKenzie between Bukarts and Schoenborn, at the start of game three. Rather than put Cody Glass in that spot, where he played 20, or so, games, he went with a guy, who had not only not been used as a center most of the year, he had also not played a game between those two prior to game three.
-Jack Dougherty led the team with seven shots on net, in his final game with the team. He seemed dis-interested at times this year, but was pretty solid in the playoffs.
-He does not get my award for Portland's best d-man of the series though. Caleb Jones was the Hawks most consistent puck-rusher, as well as, shutdown d-man all series. The future is really bright for the Edmonton Oilers' signed d-man as he will return as a 19-year-old for Portland next season.
-It seemed to me like Everett had more drive and jump after every period break, media break and timeout in the series. What this says to me is that Everett's coaching staff was getting more buy in from their team, then Portland's coaches were able to get from theirs.
-Hats off to Everett, as every one of their players bought into the team's system and it showed as they did everything they needed to win each game and make the Winterhawks get into the ground and pound style, rather than the open-ice style they are sued to and prefer.
-The Silvertips get Seattle in the next round as the T-birds also swept Prince George.

Portland Playoff Stat Leaders:
  1. Bukarts, Glass: 3
  2. Dougherty, Jones and Texeira: 2
Shots on Goal:
  1. Dougherty: 15
  2. Bukarts: 13
  3. Schoenborn: 11
  4. Iverson and Abols: 10
  1. Iverson: 40
  2. Schoenborn: 35
  3. Doguherty: 31
  4. Abols: 29
  5. Heinrich: 27
Blocked Shots:
  1. Heinrich: 11
  2. Texeira: 10
  3. McKenzie: 6
  4. Veloso: 5
  5. Abols and De Jong: 4
Face Off % (Minimum 20 Draws):
  1. Overhardt: 69.57% (16/23)
  2. Glass: 59.09% (26/44)
  3. Turgeon: 56.86% (29/51)-in two games.
  4. Hughes: 47.83% (11/23)
  5. McKenzie: 33.33% (12/36)
Winterhawks in the NHL Thursday:
-Brandon Dubinsky scored his 15th goal of the year in Columbus's 4-3 loss to the N.Y. Islanders.
-Ryan Johansen scored his 14th on the year and then assisted on Nashville's other goal, in their 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
-Matt Dumba provided an assist for Minnesota in their 3-2 loss to Ottawa.
-Jannik Hansen finally hit the 20-goal mark for Vancouver and it was the eventual game-winner, as the Canucks beat San Jose 4-2.

Winterhawks in the AHL Wednesday:
Mac Carruth stopped all 23 shots he faced for Rockford against Chicago. The shutout was his first of the year and second career at the AHL level. The IceHogs edged Ty Rattie and Chicago 1-0.

WOW! What a save on a two-on-zero by Mac Carruth! That's a @HupyandAbraham Play of the Month candidate!
— Rockford IceHogs(@goicehogs) March 31, 2016
Winterhawks in the ECHL Thursday:
-Brett Ponich tallied assist number 14 on the year and Kalamazoo beat Greenville in overtime 4-3.