Sunday, October 9, 2016

Flodell shuts down Winterhawks 3-1

The Logan Flodell story in Saskatoon, is quickly becoming one of the more intriguing ones in the WHL this season. Flodell started out both last year and this year as the expected starter for the Seattle Thunderbirds. Last season, the Birds elected to bring in Landon Bow, putting Flodell back to the back up role he was in previously. Then Seattle chose to trade for another overage goalie in Rylan Toth, spelling the end of Fldell's time in Seattle. Saskatoon picked him up, by trading 1998-born defenseman Anthony Bishop to Seattle. Since arriving in the "toon" Flodell has had a lights out 1.75 GAA and 0.947 save percentage in four games.

The most recent of those four games, was Saturday night vs. Portland. Flodell was stellar turning away 34 of the 35 shots that he saw, en route to a 3-1 Blades' victory over the visiting Portland squad. Saskatoon got goals from Josh Paterson, Mason McCarty and Bralyon Shmyr, while Jake Gricius notched his first career WHL goal for Portland.

McCarty opened the scoring in the first period for Saskatoon. He took advantage of a poor turnover in front of his own net by Cody Glass, swiftly flicking a wrist shot over Portland goalie Cole Kehler's shoulder. Glass was handcuffed by a bouncing puck and could not re-direct it away form danger, before it was stolen form him. Portland answered behind a a very pretty goal from Jake Gricius. The fourth-line center demonstrated great hands by pouncing on a bouncing puck and stick-handling around Flodell in tight.

The lone goal of the second was also a thing of beauty. Bralyon Shmyr rushed up the ice and sold a shot on defenseman Henri Jokiharju, before sniping a shot past Kehler. Jokiharju bit on the fake and this gave him enough room to score. Keegan Iverson took a bad stick-handling penalty on the power play, setting up the four-on-four that Shmyr converted on.

Portland fired 14 shots on Flodell in the third period, but the 19-year-old net minder was up to the task. His best two saves were late in the period. First, he got just enough of his pad on an Evan Weinger shot after the winger got behind the defense. Then, after tic-tac-toe passing set up Alex Overhardt with a good look, Flodell got there just in time. The Blades iced the game with an empty net goal from Josh Paterson.

The Hawks are now 2-2 on their East Division swing and 3-2 on the road trip. They next play on Tuesday vs. Brandon.

Portland's Cole Kehler stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced for his first loss in net with Portland. It was the first time that a Portland goalie had been given consecutive starts this year.

The Hawks power play went 0/5, while their PK was 3/3.

Game Notes:
-Ilijah Colina was given his spot between Evan Weinger and Ryan Hughes back. This, despite the fact that Lane Gilliss has been great in that spot. This could be Portland trying to get a longer look at the 16-year-old to see if he should stick around or be re-assigned. This could be a tough decision for Portland. They came into this year, preaching that they were all about the youth this year. However, a 5-3 start could have them convinced that they could make a run this year.
-Portland still has 16 forwards on their roster. One would think that at least two of those are on their way out. If Abols is dealt, that leaves another forward to be moved. I like Colina, but I think he would be best served by being re-assigned.
-The Hawks love to use the sauce pass. Nic Petan was perhaps the best I've seen at it. Joachim Blichfeld could make a run at that "title" though. He fired a couple great passes that freed up line mates for odd-man rushes up the ice. There is a lot to like about the Dane, especially on the power play.
-Jackson Caller got to play his old team as the 17-year-old d-man was sent to Saskatoon in September.

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