Sunday, November 27, 2016

Afternoon delight for the Winterhawks as they take down Prince George 6-3

A petition to move every Portland Winterhawks' home game to the afternoon might've gotten some signatures if it had been passed around the 3,164 fans at the Veteran Memorial Coliseum Sunday afternoon. Two days after they saw their Winterhawks take down the second place team in the B.C. Division 4-2, they watched them oust the first place Prince George Cougars 6-3. The win gives Portland their fifth in their last six games, with a record of 5-0-1 in those contests. These two recent wins make it hard for Mike Johnston and co. to decide what to do this year. After winning eight of their first 11, they dropped nine straight, before now getting points in six straight. Despite this being a match up of the oldest team (Prince George) and the youngest team in the WHL(Portland), the Hawks looked like the veteran team. They overcame a fluky goal in the third that tied the game; scoring twice in the span of 46 seconds to earn the big win. 10 Winterhawks found the score sheet in the win with Henri Jokiharju and Jake Gricus each earning two points.

Jake Gricius helped the Winterhawks open the scoring off a great play on an odd-man break. He drove the right wing of the zone and smartly used his big frame to protect the puck before dropping a pass to Joachim Blichfeld. The Danish forward then fired a shot in the top corner for his ninth goal of the year. While on one of three-straight power plays, the Cougars tied the game on a goal from their newest player. Colton Veloso was able to get his stick in the shooting lane of P.G. defenseman Brendan Guhle, after he received a feed from Jansen Harkins. Instead of deflecting it wide though, the shot rode Veloso's stick, beating Portland goalie Cole Kehler. This was Guhle's second goal in just his third game with his new team, after being acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders.

Portland took their second lead of the game on  bad turnover by the Cougars. After a shot on the rush, by Evan Weinger was stopped by goalie Nick McBride, 17-year-old rookie d-man Ryan Schoettler threw a pass right to Henri Jokiharju at the point. Portland's Finnish defenseman drove a shot over McBride's shoulder for the 2-1 lead. The Hawks then added to their lead on a goal that probably should not have counted. Skyler McKenzie sent a long outlet pass to Keegan Iverson, while on the power play, but the Hawks' captain appeared to be well offsides when he tipped it into the corner. He even peeled off from fore-checking, believing that he needed to clear the zone. No whistle was blown though and Portland took advantage. Iverson gathered the puck at the top of the zone and with every player looking for him to shoot, he flipped a pass to Cody Glass at the left face off dot. Glass fired a one-timer past McBride for the 3-1 Portland lead. Before the second period was over though, the Cougars crawled back within one. After an Iverson shot was blocked, Aaron Boyd smartly threw a uick outlet pass to a streaking Colby McAuley, sending him in alone. McAuley deked out Kehler and tucked the puck in past his pad.

Portland and Prince George traded chances in the third period, before the Cougars scored on an incredibly strange goal. Colton Veloso had the puck poked off of his stick, while trying to exit the zone and Kody McDonald drove the net, trying to sneak the puck in past Kehler. The rebound came out to Conor MacEachern, who tried to backhand the puck out of the zone. Colby McAuley then had MacEachern's clearing attempt ricochet off of his body and into the net. Instead of getting down after the goal, Portland took control of the play. While trying to exit his zone, P.G. d-man Joel Lakusta had the puck roll away from him. Jake Gricius, who had been fore-checking on the play snagged the puck and took advantage of the mini to-on-one, feeding a pass to 16-year-old rookie Brad Ginnell. The rookie then beat McBride, before he could slide over in time. 46 seconds later, the Ryan Hughes, Evan Weinger and Bronson Sharp controlled possession deep in the P.G. zone. This led to Weinger finding Brendan De Jong at the point. The defenseman settled the puck and then blasted a slap shot past McBride for the 5-3 lead. Keoni Texeira then added an empty netter from deep in his own zone to ice the game for the home squad.

Kehler stopped 39 of 42 and was his most impressive in the first, stopping 17 of 18. Nick McBride turned away 27 of the 32 shots he saw.

Portland was 1/3 on the power play, while Prince George was 1/5. The Hawks PP is now seventh in the WHL at 23.9 percent.

-Portland takes advantage of another turnover s Joel Lacusta loses the puck to Jake Gricius, setting up a two-on-one. Gricius slid the puck over to Brad Ginnell, who buried it (4-3)
-Evan Weinger great pass right onto the stick of Brendan De Jong. The big d-man settled it down and then powered a shot past McBride's blocker. (5-3)
-Keoni Texeira corralled a bouncing puck in his own zone, airmailing a shot all the way down into the empty net (6-3)EN

Game Notes:
-This was Jake Gricius' first WHL game with an assist and he ended up with two. He saw a whole lot of ice time as Lane Gilliss appeared to be absent for most of the third period. He was tasked with centering both his line and Gilliss'. I did not see how or even if Gilliss got injured.
-Gricius had his best game of his WHL career so far, showing great vision on both of his assists.
-Prince George had a whole lot of power play time in the mid-part of the first period as Keegan Iverson took a double-minor for high sticking 16 seconds after Lane Gilliss was whistled for tripping. They did end up scoring once, but nearly had another as a Jesse Gabrielle goal from the slot was disallowed after his linemate, Aaron Boyd made contact with Cole Kehler.
-Keegan Iverson also had a power play goal disallowed in the third period, after it was decided that he had directed the puck in with a high stick.
-Sam Ruopp was out of the lineup for Prince George, as he served the last game of his eight-game suspension for a "one-man fight," back on November second, vs. Medicine Hat.
-Keegan Iverson extended his point streak to six games, which is a new career high. He had a five-game streak back in the 2014-14 season.
-Brad Ginnell was in prime position to score countless times. He struck the post on one of these chances before eventually scoring the game-winner. His recent play should help him continue to see the ice ahead of Ty Kolle and (the injured?) Ilijah Colina.
-Portland has a busy week coming with a road trip for games in Spokane and Kennewick, followed by home games vs. Kootenay and Medicine Hat.

No comments:

Post a Comment