Saturday, November 12, 2016

Portland still can't solve Everett's goalies, fall 2-1

When mired in an eight-game losing streak mostly due to the inability to score, there's few things a team would want to do less than face the best defensive team in the league. That's what happened Friday night at Veterans Memorial Coliseum as Portland hosted the Everett Silvertips. Despite strong puck movement and the best defensive effort they've had in awhile, Portland still fell to Everett 2-1. This sends their losing streak all the way to nine games. Not since the 2009 calendar year has Portland been mired in such a streak. In late January through part of February that year, Portland fell short 12 straight times. Twice that season, they had losing streaks of nine games or more. That year was the first for head coach general manager Mike Johnston as he took over earlier in the season.

Everett opened the scoring in the first period after Portland failed to convert on a couple of great scoring chances of their own. After Ryan Hughes lost his cool and took an after-the-whistle penalty, Patrick Bajkov cashed in. He did so off a great series of passes by Matt Fonteyne and Noah Juulsen. They entered the zone, moved the puck into a scoring area and watched as their sniper ripped one past Portland goalie Cole Kehler's blocker. Caleb Jones had a couple of great chances to end the period, but could not slip one past Everett goalie Carter Hart.

Everett doubled their lead in the second, on some fantastic hand-eye coordination from overage, import forward Dominic Zwerger. A shot from Noah Juulsen was stopped by Kehler's right pad and popped into the air. Zwerger was lucky to be in prime position and looking the right way. He batted it home before it fell back to the ice. After getting out shot 10-5 to start the period, Portland was able to turn the momentum, oddly enough, when Brendan De Jong put them on a penalty kill. The Winterhawks had two different short-handed rushes by Caelb Jones and Keegan Iverson respectively and were able to create a man-advantage of their own. They got the last five shots in the period and had another five blocked by Everett's penalty killers.

So since the Hawks had the play going in their favor, it should not have been a surprise that Portland was able to finally net twine behind Carter Hart. After an icing that did not allow Everett to put out their whole top line, Keegan Iverson shielded the puck from d-man McKenzie Dwyer and ripped a wrist shot top self on Carter Hart. The goal cashed in on a third period decision by coach Mike Johnston to put the line of Cody Glass, Keegan Iverson and Skyler McKenzie back together after nearly six games apart. Any further come back hopes, though were partially dulled by a late penalty to Evan Weinger that put the Hawks down a man.

Portland's power play went 0/4 and is now 25.3 percent. Strangely enough, it is still in fourth place, despite the recent struggles. Everett's PP went 1/5 and is now 21.2 percent. That is good for eighth place in the 'Dub.

Cole Kehler was solid in net, giving Portland every chance to tie it with several highlight reel saves in the third period. He totaled 27 saves on 28 shots. Carter Hart was even better for Everett with 23 saves on 24 shots.

Game Notes:
-Carter Czaikowski left the team earlier this week to pursue different opportunities. This was a bit of a surprise as he was having his best season and had just notched his first career WHL goal.
-Czaikowski's departure leaves Portland with seven d-men. That means that if both Henri Jokiharju and Caleb Jones make their U20 World Junior teams, call ups could be necessary.
-As for now, the rotation in the bottom three will be Matthew Quigley, Conor MacEachern and Jake Hobson.
-Keegan Iverson now has three goals in his last four games. He is averaging a point-a-game with 18 points overall.
-Keoni Texeira has an assist in each of the last two games and 10 overall. He is ninth in WHL defensemen scoring with 15 points.
-Colina is playing at the same pace as Skyler McKenzie and Joachim Blichfeld. As a 16-year-old, you kind of expect him to slow the other two down, but he is reading, reacting and creating chances.
-Blichfeld is getting the looks he wants on the power play. He just needs to adjust the aim a bit. Several times he fired shots high and wide from the slot.
-Everett is 3-0 this year vs. Portland and has won nine straight vs. the Winterhawks.
-Patrick Bajkov, with two points in the game has five points in three games, this year vs. Portland.
-Noah Juulsen had two assists and was Everett's best skater on both sides of the ice. He now has three points in two games vs. Portland this year.
-Riley Sutter got the embarrassing standalone embellishment call on a play in front of the Portland net. This does not happen too often but it seemed fairly obvious Sutter initiated the contact with Caleb Jones before flopping to the ice.
-Jones played his best game in awhile. He was very active jumping into the play and creating looks for other or himself, but when in his own end, he didn't try to make an immaculate full-ice outlet pass, instead just taking the play that was there for him. The points will start coming in bunches if he keeps this up. He already diminished his team-low minus 14 by one with a  plus one in this game.
-Henri Jokiharju had his best offensive game as a Winterhawk, despite not reaching the score sheet. He went on his first end-to-end rush while the teams were skating four aside and nearly beat Hart. He also made a superb, spinning backhand pass, that almost connected in front of Hart. While those two plays were great, his best of the night was a poke check in his own zone that sprung an odd-man chance the other way. Jokiharju read that the 'Tips were about to pass to an area and he gambled correctly, tilting the ice sheet,
-Brendan De Jong and Ryan Hughes both took two minor penalties.
-Colton Veloso drew two penalties for the Hawks. He continues to give his best effort every night and play in whatever role MJ and crew decide to put him in.
-Portland hosts the Calgary Hitmen Saturday night. Calgary is coming off a 3-1 win in Seattle behind a great night from goalie Cody Porter.

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