by STUART KEMP
With a full roster to start the season, the Portland Winterhawks elected to sit out Evan Weinger as the fourth overage player as they took on the Everett Silvertips in Everett.
The Good: A six goal second period led by Keifer Bellows with two goals and singles by Cody Glass, Alex Overhardt, Skyler McKenzie, Joachim Blichfeld and Conor MacEachern helped the Hawks blow past the Everett Silvertips 7-4. The Hawks scored four goals in less than six minutes to chase starting goaltender Dorrin Luding from the net. Danton Belluk came into replace Luding and gave up the last two Portland goals of the second period and one in the third period. The Hawks were strong on the penalty kill in knocking off all but one powerplay for Everett. The Hawks were also very strong physically in front of the net as they controlled the shots on goal 30 to 26, most of which came during the second period. As was expected, Keifer Bellows lived up to his reputation coming into Portland with a freshly signed three-year entry level deal with the New York Islanders. Others making a big impression on the ice in addition to the goal scorers were Ryan Hughes and Skyler McKenzie who may not be the largest in stature, but add a great deal of heart to this team.
The Bad: A tough first period by the Portland Winterhawks saw them give up the first two goals to Everett by Matt Fonteyne less than five minutes into the game and Reece Vitelli with three minutes left in the period. The Hawks were also outshot in the period and spent almost a third of the period in the penalty box.
The Ugly: A total of ten powerplays to Everett during the game, including several five on three opportunities meant the Hawks were rarely able to skate five skaters for the majority of the game. Portland found themselves with just two powerplays in the game. Portland’s Conor MacEachern took four of the team’s penalties, with Joachim Blichfeld taking two which kept an imbalance of forwards and defense during the game. The squad looked rather disorganized for the first few minutes of the game, but grew to acclimatize to each other as the game progressed. As has been a trademark it appears on Winterhawks teams each season is a very slow start, then finding ways to ramp up and creating opportunities during the game.
The Hawks have an unusual start to the season with just the one game thus far in the first week with a week in between until the next one. That game will be versus the Seattle Thunderbirds on September 30th, emanating from the Moda Center and will be the first of nine televised games between the two teams. The Hawks will then play two games at home, have a five-day break and then play three games in three nights, two on the road and one at home with a day off until their next game. In what has become the norm in the quirky schedule each season, Portland will play the same team four times in a span of a week. The Kelowna Rockets will be in town mid-October before heading up to Kelowna the next weekend.
The Winterhawks will host their first player appearance of the season at the Aloha Papa Johns on Tuesday with four players demonstrating their pizza making skills and delivering a pizza party to a lucky family. The event will run from 4:30 to 6pm.
Ice Chips: The Winterhawks unveiled their full promotional schedule for the season, which includes a beer tasting event October 14, the annual toy drive on December 3, ladies can shoot for a ham postgame December 8, and the annual Teddy Bear Toss on December 9. Single game tickets have just been released for public sale.