Saturday, November 12, 2016

Portland lets out frustration on Hitmen, demolishing them 9-2

It became obvious just how frustrated a group the Portland Winterhawks were, when defenseman Caleb Jones took to social media to declare that there was no way his team was going to lose Saturday night vs. Calgary. This took some guts as his team had dropped nine straight games and was in every single one of them. He must've thought there was another gear the Hawks could hit and they definitely did so in a big way. Portland fired 17 first period shots in on Calgary's goalie, but there was only one Winterhawks' player who could beat. Fortunately for Portland, that player notched a natural hat trick. Cody Glass had his first career hat trick in the first and his five point on the first five goals for Portland, helped set the pace in his team's blow out win.

Chief among Portland's issues during their nine-game losing streak was their lack of special teams success. That was not the case Saturday night, as the Hawks scored twice on the power play and twice on the penalty kill.

Calgary actually started the scoring in the first period when Jakob Stukel picked Ilijah Colina's pocket and drove the net, feeding Tyler Mrkonjic. The overage winger waited for Portland goalie Cole Kehler to go down, before lifting the puck over him. Portland tied it up just over four minutes later as they responded to the Calgary with determined play, controlling possession and finding a way to get a shot past Calgary's Cody Porter. Cody Glass helped set up his own goal in a way as he tied up the Hitmen and didn't allow them to clear the zone. Caleb Jones fired a pass down low that hit Skyler McKenzie in stride as he went across the net from left to right. This got Porter drifting to his left and allowed McKenzie to slip a backhand pass to an all-alone Glass for a slam-dunk at the left post. Glass got his second marker in the period when Jones kept the puck in at the blue line. McKenzie corralled the pass and with Keegan Iverson driving the net he slipped a pass in the slot to Glass. The 17-year-old center wired his shot past Porter for the 2-1 lead. He would make it 3-1 with his natural hat-trick goal, 2:40 later in the period. After winning the face off, Glass came out of the left corner with the puck, driving the net and wristing a shot up over Porter's left pad. After notching the first two goals, Glass appeared to have gained the confidence to try something like that.

Glass is known more for setting up goals than scoring them, so it was only fair that he set up a couple goals in the second period to help, nearly even things out. While on the power play, thanks to some aggressive fore checking from Colton Veloso, Cody Glass won the face off right back to Caleb Jones. The d-man swiftly ripped a shot past Porter, giving the Hawks a goal just four seconds into the man advantage. Then on another power play, Ryan Hughes helped get a little redemption for teammate Skyler McKenzie. Cody Glass had set up McKenzie at the right face off circle seconds earlier, but Porter had come across the rob him. So when Ryan Hughes found himself shooting from the exact same area on an eerily similar pass from Glass, he had a huge smile on his face. That ended Porter's night as he was pulled in favor of back up goalie (and former Winterhawks' d-man Mathew Dumba's younger brother) Kyle Dumba. Porter stopped 16 of the 21 shots he faced.

 The struggling Calgary power play left their new goalie out to dry several times and the Hawks broke through with short handed goals 19 seconds apart. First, after blocking a Mizhel Zipp point shot, Keegan Iverson lobbed a brilliant pass right to Skyler McKenzie in stride. McKenzie finished off the breakaway with a deke that got Dumba to go down, so he could tuck in the puck past Dumba's right pad. Then, Jones led a four-on-two rush the other way, after breaking up a play in his own zone. He passed to Colton Veloso who found Brendan De Jong trailing and the lanky blue liner beat Dumba blocker side. That was the first short handed goal of De Jong's career. Unfortunately for Dumba, the Hawks weren't done in the period. Ilijah Colina put an excellent stick in on a Jones point shot, striking the post behind Dumba. Evan Weinger was right there though and he slammed it home. That meant the Hawks were taking an 8-1 lead into the game's final frame.

Joachim Blichfeld closed out the scoring for Portland with a highlight reel goal. He caught Zipp going the wrong way and left him in the dust, before sniping a shot over Dumba's shoulder. Calgary would add another goal as Mark Kastelic's shot went right off Weinger's skate and came right back to him in the slot. He shot a quick backhand that Kehler was not ready for.

Kyle Dumba made 18 saves on 22 shots in relief of Porter. Kehler got his first win since October 15th, stopping 34 of 36 shots.

The Hawks power play was 2/5 on the night, but did not have their regular group out there for the last PP. The Hitmen went 0/5 on their power plays with two goals against.

Game Notes:
-A goal was disallowed for each team in the game. Cody Glass would have had four goals if not for the mask falling off Cody Porter in the first, due to a shot from Caleb Jones. For Calgary, Aaron Hyman scored in the second, but it was immediately waved off as Alexei Grishakov went right through Cole Kehler, knocking him down and making room for Hyman's shot.
-Personal record setting night for Cody Glass. He netted his first hat trick and first five point night. He now vaults back up into the scoring race with 30 points, just one behind current leader Mason Shaw. Glass took full advantage of getting back together with Keegan Iverson and Skyler McKenzie. They were not split up over lack of chances created, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that they picked up where they left off.
-Caleb Jones backed up his statement, with his first four-point night. He had just one point in his previous five games coming in.
-It was also the first four point night for Skyler McKenzie. He is now all the way up to 26 points, which is good for seventh in the league. Glass and McKenzie both reach career highs in points in the game, just 21 games into the season.
-Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and two assists and now has 16 points. This is good for sixth in the WHL in rookie scoring. He is doing a great job of running he left point, while on the power play. His shot is so dangerous, that teams overextend themselves to stop it allowing him to set up teammates, like he did tonight.
-Evan Weinger was all over the ice for Portland. He finally got his goal late in the second period, but had many great chances before that. He did a good job of utilizing his speed to close in on Calgary d-men on the fore check, creating turnovers.
-It's pretty obvious how much Calgary misses carolina Hurricanes' first round pick, defenseman Jake Bean. They have, former Everett Silvertips' d-man Michael Zipp as the power play quarterback and Zipp is nowhere near the creative player that Bean is. He really struggled all game, but nowhere was it more obvious then on the PP.
-Colton Veloso drew a penalty for the third time in two games. His tenacious play is rubbing opponents the wrong way and getting them to lose their cool.
-Next game for Portland is in one week, as they clash with rival Seattle


  1. Any idea what happened to jokiharju? I don't think he played in the third and I didn't notice him on the bench at all

  2. I took a second view and he skated only one shift at the start of the third. There didn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary on that shift. He is not listed on the latest WHL injury report.