Thursday, October 6, 2016

Winterhawks hold off Raiders 5-3 behind Glass's three points

The Portland Winterhawks, playing their second road game in as many nights, jumped out a 4--0 lead, before holding on in Prince Albert. Portland chased Raiders' goalie Rylan Parenteau with four goals in the first 33:17 of game action. They then had to hold on in the third period, as P.A. played inspired hockey and nearly pulled off the come back. The Winterhawks were led by two goals and an assist from Cody Glass and two points apiece from Joachim Blichfeld and Keegan Iverson. Glass is having quite the draft year, as he currently leads the WHL in scoring with 12 points in only six games. He had his third straight multi-point night. Glass has a reputation as a set- up artist, but found the twine twice tonight for his first career multi-goal game.

Portland opened the scoring 8:55 in off a great defensive play in their own end. Zach Andruziak of Prince Albert, tried to receive a pass in the slot and had his stick tied up by Lane Gilliss. The forward, playing his first game with Portland as a center, then sprung Evan Weinger with a smooth outlet pass the other way. Weinger used Ryan Hughes as a diversion and beat Parenteau on the short side. Then off a broken play, Colton Veloso scored a beauty of a goal. Joachim Blichfeld drove the zone and tried to beat the P.A. defender one-on-one. He lost the puck, but it was swiftly kicked to the far post by Glass. Veloso collected the strange-looking pass and spun around, tucking the puck around Parenteau's left pad.

Portland added to their lead in the second period behind two goals from the league's top scorer. First, Keegan Iverson smartly bounced a pass along the right boards all the way from his own zone into the opponent's. Skyler McKenzie collected the puck and squirmed past the Raiders defender. He then fed a pass right into the slot for a wide open Glass. Then, on the power-play after Parenteau made a great stop on Glass, the 17-year-old center collected the rebound of an Iverson shot, to score his second of the period. This last goal prompted the raiders to replace Parenteau with Ian Scott in net. Parenteau allowed four goals on 22 shots.

Early on in the third period, the Raiders were a different team. they jumped on a complacent Winterhawks team and this led to an early goal. How the goal was scored was a matter of some controversy. With hectic play going on in Portland's zone, Alex Overhardt had a chance to clear the zone but could not. Raiders' captain Tim Vanstone then collected the rebound of a shot from the point and collided with Portland goalie Cole Kehler, knocking his helmet off. Sean Montgomery was opportunistic, scoring on the vacant net with Kehler down and out. They reviewed the play, but decided there was not enough evidence to overturn it. I was able to watch the replay a number of times and it seems pretty clear that Vanstone's rear catches Kehler in the head, knocking the goalie's helmet off. WHL and NHL rules stipulate that play shoudl have stopped at this point. However, it did not and the referees did not have the ability to slow down the play like I was able to. The goal stood and Portland's lead was down to three.

Momentum had swung the other way and the Raiders continued to be on the offensive. Henri Jokiharju tried to stickhandle out of his own zone and he lost the puck. Rookie Cole Fonstad, who had been one of this team's better forwards took advantage beating Kehler on the blocker side for his first career WHL goal. The Raiders pulled to within one with just over nine minutes to play on another defensive lapse by Portland. Carter Czaikowski took a poor angle on P.A. forward Luke Coleman, allowing a pass to go right into the slot. Simon Stransky was in prime position and he beat Kehler for his fourth of the year. Because they were within one, the Raiders pulled Scott for an extra attacker late in the game. It backfired on them as Blichfeld picked Fonstad's pocket in the neutral zone and iced the game with an empty net goal.

Kehler had a solid game, stopping 25 of the 28 shots he faced. Kehler is now 3-0 on the season. Ian Scott's lay in relief was a major reason the Raiders cam back, as he stopped all 16 shots that he saw.

Glass' second goal was on the power-play. Portland was one-for-three on the man advantage and is now nine-for-21 on the season. That's good for 42.9 percent this year. P.A. was zero-for-three on the man advantage themselves.

Game Notes:
-The Raiders cleaned up their overage situation prior to the game, by releasing center Kolten Olynek. The 20-year-old was promptly scooped up by the rival Saskatoon Blades, who had room for an overage player. However, they are still awaiting the return of Reid Gardiner from training camp with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. If Gardiner does return, Parenteau's performance in this game will not be a good argument for him to be kept as one of the three 20-year-olds.
-As I discussed in the previous game's notes, Lane Gilliss has proven himself capable of playing in the top-six. He got his chance Wednesday night in P.A. He played his first game in the middle, between Ryan Hughes and Evan Weinger. He still looked to be getting comfortable with playing deep defensively in his own zone, but his set up on his team's first goal showcased his skill.
-Jake Hobson got into the lineup and played against his hometown team. He is from Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan, which is about 30 minutes away. He played for the Prince Albert Mintos hockey program, before coming to Portland.
-Nick Heid got his first chance since last season to play against his old team. His role just increased with the team, as the Raiders traded away veteran d-man Brennan Riddle to Lethbridge earlier this week.
-Colton Veloso was typecast as a fourth-line grinder last season. He ended up earning some time as a penalty-killer, but never moved beyond that role, despite scoring 11 goals. This year, he's being given more of a chance to make a difference and did so tonight. He was all over the ice, making plays on both ends.
-Zone exits continue to be an issue for Portland at times. They are being asked, in Mike Johnston's system, to make risky passes out of their own zone. These can sometimes create odd-man rushes one way, but they can create them the other as well. Portland's wingers will improve at the quick touch pass at the blue line as the year goes. But right now, this is one of the primary causes of the other team's best scoring chances.
-The East Division road trip continues Friday night at Moose Jaw.
-Portland is now 4-2 on the season. This is considerably a better start than they have had in awhile. Last year they were 1-5 in their first six games and they went 0-6 the previous year in that span.

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