The good, the bad, and the ugly of the Winterhawks season opener

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The good, the bad, and the ugly of the Winterhawks season opener

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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.

Portland Winterhawks’ Losing Streak To Five, But Still Sees Fur Fly On Teddy Bear Toss Night

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Portland Winterhawks’ Losing Streak To Five, But Still Sees Fur Fly On Teddy Bear Toss Night

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After dropping two tough battles to Vancouver and Everett earlier in the week, it seemed only fitting for the Portland Winterhawks to attempt revenge in return matches this weekend. The games at Veterans Memorial Coliseum were played almost playoff style: tough defense, stellar goaltending and physical play. The score would reflect that style of game.

Just prior to the game against the Vancouver Giants, there came word that goaltender Cole Kehler had just signed a three-year entry level deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Kehler, who was the backstop on the Central Swing winning run, has played 24 of the team’s 30 games thus far, winning 17 of them with a goals-against-average of just over 2 per game.

The Hawks also dropped two spots in the CHL poll, which now has them slotted fourth overall, but remain one of three teams in all weeks of this year’s poll and the only WHL team to do so.

Against Vancouver, the Hawks dominated the game in all ways except the most important location, the scoreboard. Portland tallied 37 shots to Vancouver’s 18 and neither team scored on the powerplay, despite eight chances split between them. It was a goaltenders’ duel that gave both Cole Kehler and Giants’ netminder David Tendeck stars of the game with heroic saves, but it would be the Giants with the only goal of the game by Brendan Semchuk midway through the third period that held up as the winner. It was the Hawks’ third shutout loss and second in a week as it seemed at times the sticks were clenched too tightly in.

Portland would have little time to worry about that game as the following night, it was a matchup with the Everett Silvertips. It was also Teddy Bear Toss night, a function at the game to collect bears and other stuffed plush for a slew of charities throughout the Portland Metro area. This was a game Portland came of the chute flying. They got initial rushes and shot attempts, but got stymied by a tough defense and goaltending of Carter Hart. In the second half of the period, the Hawks get a bit too aggressive and found themselves shorthanded for six minutes and allowed Everett shots on net, but Cole Kehler was there to answer them all.

To the second period, where the Hawks started strong, but gave way to a penalty to Alex Overhardt for kneeing that allowed Everett to finally cash in. Connor Dewar finished off a play in the Hawks zone to give Everett the lead just six minutes into the period. The ink was barely dry on the scoresheet when Bryce Kindopp scored just 22 seconds later, causing many Hawks fans concern that they’d look to another shutout and no place for the fur to fly.

Just past the seven-minute mark, a highly spirited battle between Portland’s John Ludvig and Everett’s Montana Onyebuchi gave the fans something to cheer for as Ludvig tagged Onyebuchi with several shots before the linesmen broke them up and Onyebuchi was banished from the game.

The Hawks pressed harder than ever in the third, owning the shot clock 20-4 and on one continued pressure, Mason Mannek found the puck free at the side of the net. He passed up to Alex Overhardt who looked and saw John Ludvig open at the other side of the net which gave Ludvig the Hawks Teddy Bear goal. The fur went flying as nearly 11,000 critters found their way to the ice. For that goal, Ludvig was named first star of the game. Alex Overhardt was named third star, in part for his unselfish act to get Ludvig the goal, but also his presence during the entire game. Carter Hart was named second star of the game, though, that snuffed out any further goals from the Hawks as he stopped 42 of 43 shots to win 2-1. Kehler stopped 23 of 25 in the loss, the Hawks’ fifth straight with three games remaining before the Christmas break. Portland and Everett combined for eight powerplays, with Everett netting one goal and Portland being blanked.

The Hawks will look to bounce back on Tuesday in Spokane as they face the Chiefs, who they will face again in Portland on Saturday. A quick road trip to Everett on Sunday will complete the three-game set and will then give Portland eight days off for the players to head home to visit family.

Following Christmas, the Hawks play four games in five nights with a home and home series with Tri-City Americans and a home and home set with the Seattle Thunderbirds including the New Year’s Eve Battle with Seattle at the Moda Center.

Glass Nabs Top Award In The CHL, Portland Winterhawks Gets Bladed

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Glass Nabs Top Award In The CHL, Portland Winterhawks Gets Bladed

BY: STUART KEMP

The road trip from Alberta ended with the Portland Winterhawks nabbing eleven of twelve points and provided a solid cushion atop the US Division standings and got them within nipping distance of the Moose Jaw Warriors for the overall lead as the Warriors played a few extra games to keep their now very slim lead.

As the Hawks approached home, there came word of Cody Glass receiving the CHL Player of the Month award. Glass, who had been drafted sixth overall in the 2017 NHL draft and signed shortly thereafter, amassed 26 points in 12 games including a 5-game point streak toward the end of November and recorded points in all 12 games played in November. He was announced as the CHL winner after capturing the WHL On the Run Player of the Week ending in November.

The Hawks, after battling a tough Central Swing tour of six games in nine nights, came home to start a whirlwind five game in nine night run with three games at home and two back to back away games. Portland would start it off at home with a game against the Saskatoon Blades, who had been winless in their US Division swing thus far. On the same night, the Hawks welcomed the Les Schwab Fox 12 Toy Drive as they looked to collect a number of toys for the drive ending in mid-December.

The best part of the night was the over 2,000 toys collected at the Moda Center which will go to a variety of local area charities for Christmas. Either Saskatoon was very good on this night, or Portland took them way too lightly. Shane Farkas made the start in net for Portland and held the Blades scoreless in the first period; the same could be said for Nolan Maier in the Saskatoon net. The second period appeared to be the undoing for the Hawks as a costly penalty to John Ludvig gave the Blades their only powerplay goal of the game and the only goal the Blades really needed.

Things got a bit rough for the Hawks as two scraps resulted in Portland’s top line scorers Sklyer McKenzie being off the ice for 17 minutes and Keiffer Bellows getting ejected from the game for a separate scrap. Without the two, the burden fell to other members of the Hawks, who despite a 48-42 shots on goal difference, couldn’t find the back of the net. Oddly, that would be the end of the penalties with the Blades going 1 for 2 and Portland unable to convert on their three chances. Saskatoon would add their second goal of the game late in the second period and add another late in the third to take a commanding lead. Portland tried to add strength up front as they pulled Farkas for the extra attacker with just under two minutes left in the game, but couldn’t convert and allowed Saskatoon an empty net goal with about thirty seconds left to close the scoring and hand the Hawks only their second shutout defeat of the season.

The Hawks will have no time to dwell on the loss as they hit the road for games Tuesday in Vancouver, BC and Wednesday in Everett before returning to Portland to play in order the same two teams Friday and Saturday. The Saturday game will be the annual Teddy Bear Toss where thousands of plush toys will hit the ice following Portland’s first goal. Once that game is over, the Hawks will play just three more games as they head to the Christmas break. They will feature a home and home series with the Spokane Chiefs and an away game versus the Everett Silvertips.

Winterhawks increase winning streak to ten games

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Winterhawks increase winning streak to ten games

BY 

Before leaving Portland, the Winterhawks had amassed a six-game winning streak, one that saw the power of the Kieffer Bellows, Cody Glass and Skyler McKenzie line. The three combined for most of the points during the string of wins and Cole Kehler shut the door on the opposition while in net for the Hawks.

Despite being hundreds of miles from their home base in Portland, the swing allowed many families of the players to visit with their sons as many are Canadian based. The six-game swing has been broken up into three two game segments with four of those occurring in five nights. Starting off in Cranbrook, British Columbia, the Kootenay Ice were ready to give the Hawks a good run. Portland’s Skyler McKenzie opened the scoring midway through the first period and had to wait until early in the second to increase their lead by Layne Gilliss. Kottney made it close midway through the period, but Brenden DeJong would add a powerplay goal seconds before the period ended to restore the two-goal lead. Kieffer Bellows and Skyler McKenzie would add third period goals to put it away. Kootenay would add a single, but it wasn’t enough as the 55 shots put on the Kootenay net resulted in a 5-2 win. Portland cashed in on one of two powerplays while Kootenay failed to connect on their six powerplays.

The next night, after a five-hour drive to Calgary, it was a battle with the Calgary Hitmen. Portland had trounced them 9-2 last season in Portland, but hadn’t experienced the same fate last time two years ago in Cowtown. However, the Hitman hadn’t seen the Hawks top line either and they would see it in droves. In the first thirteen minutes of the game, Kieffer Bellows had pocketed two goals and Jake Gricius had added another to give the visitors a strong lead. Cody Glass would add another to the Hawks tally early in the second on the powerplay before Calgary potted two of their own to make the game a two-goal differential. Skyler McKenzie and Joachim Blichfeld on the powerplay and Bronson Sharp would add goals late in the second to give the Hawks a commanding lead. Midway through the third, Calgary would add the only tally of the period to end the score at 7-3. Portland outshot Calgary 37-29 and crushed Calgary with three of five powerplay chances going in while the Hitmen would go scoreless on three opportunities. Portland’s Matthew Quigley was assessed a minor penalty for boarding late in the third period, however, the Hitmen submitted the tape of the incident to the league where they assessed a two-game suspension to Quigley, meaning he would miss the Red Deer and Edmonton games.

With a day break in between, the Hawks would get some rest as they prepared for the Red Deer Rebels. Against the Rebels, Shane Farkas would get his first start since October 21, and he would have to come up big. Cody Glass opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal midway through the first period only to be answered by Kristian Reichel for Red Deer to end the first period deadlocked. For the first time on the trip, the home team took the lead as Red Deer’s Mason McCarty was able to blow one past Farkas. However, that lead lasted all of fifteen seconds as Cody Glass would find a loose puck in front of the Red Deer net to equal the score. Then it was the Joachim Blichfeld show. With two goals in the second period and one in the third, one of each period coming on the powerplay and a marker by John Ludvig, the Hawks blew past the Rebels 6-2. The game featured nine powerplays for each team with Portland scoring on two, while Red Deer had just one. Red Deer did get a penalty shot opportunity which Farkas came up big on a save. The Rebels spent much of the third period in the penalty box with as many as four members in the box at one time, making it impossible to mount any sort of comeback. Each team had 40 shots on goal and Farkas was rewarded with the third star of the game.

Heading just ninety minutes north, the Hawks would face a troubled Edmonton Oil Kings team that had gone winless in their last ten games. Edmonton started Travis Child in net, an overage goaltender who was going to face a very potent offense. Portland outshot Edmonton 10-4 in the first period, but came away with no goals in a scoreless first period. Early into the second period, after a stop by Cole Kehler and a pass to Henri Jokiharju, Cody Glass would end the run with a powerplay goal to open the scoring just under three minutes into the period. Glass would add another powerplay goal midway through the second period as the Hawks continued their dominance in shots on goal. The third period saw Edmonton try to make a comeback, leading the period in shots on goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Right off the faceoff in the Hawks zone, Keoni Texeira found Cody Glass streaking down the right side and his pass to Skyler McKenzie on the opposite side allowed him to bag the empty net goal with just a minute and a half remaining in the game. Kehler added another star to his total this month and his ninth straight win while the Hawks worked up to their tenth straight win and unbeaten so far in the month of November.

Having a couple days off allowed the Hawks a chance to practice on an outdoor rink in Edmonton, Alberta. Donned in practice jerseys, toques and skates, the Hawks got to test out their skills the way hockey used to be played a hundred years ago.

With a 19-4 record, Portland is one point behind Moose Jaw (19-5-0-1) with two games in hand and one point up on Victoria (18-8-1) with four games in hand. The Hawks were ranked fourth overall in the CHL poll this past week with Sarnia Sting of the OHL leading the way at 21-4-1 and Sault Ste Marie at 20-3-2 with 11 straight wins, close behind. The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (17-4- 2) and Quebec Ramparts (17-9-1) round out the top teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With Portland having the third best winning percentage in the CHL as of now, they could move up yet another spot in the poll this week.

With two games left both on the swing and the month of November, the Hawks could be on a record setting pace at the third of the way point of the season. Coming up on the Winterhawks calendar for December is the Toy Drive which will take place Sunday, December 3 at the Moda Center versus the Saskatoon Blades. Toys will be collected for the FOX 12 / Les Schwab Toy Drive and people can also buy toys at the game to donate. Less than a week later, the Teddy Bear Toss will take place at the Memorial Coliseum with the plush heading to various local charities. Well over 10,000 bears and assorted plush will hit the ice with Portland’s first goal of the game on Saturday, December 9.

Portland Winterhawks Pick Up Fifth Straight Win, Take Over US Division Lead

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Portland Winterhawks Pick Up Fifth Straight Win, Take Over US Division Lead

BY STUART KEMP

Cole Kehler, who started this season as the team’s overage goaltender, has shown exactly why the Portland Winterhawks have him as their starting netminder. Since dropping three in a row, the Hawks have bounced back with five straight wins and show no signs of slowing down. Kehler started the week as the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week, his second recognition of the year as he allowed just three goals in as many games and was awarded the first star of the game on all three starts. The Winterhawks also moved up three spots to sixth place in the CHL poll and one of only three teams to make the poll in all eight weeks since the poll started this season.

With this week, Kehler would start both games as the Hawks faced the Tri-City Americans, who had climbed to the top of the US Division and the once a year visit by the East Division Prince Albert Raiders. Wins by the Hawks would catapult them to the top of the US Division, still with a game in hand on Tri-City.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Against the Tri-City Americans, the Hawks played a playoff type of game, hard checking, strong defense, but a lot of high quality shots. The score would remain scoreless at the end of the first period, despite a combined 31 shots on net. It would be early in the second period when Joachim Blichfeld scored, ending a drought that had gone on far too long in his opinion. Eight minutes later, Cody Glass would assist on a Skyler McKenzie goal to put the Hawks up by two. Tri-City replied just under two minutes later to tighten the score. Just barely after the puck drop to start the third, Blichfeld would restore the two-goal lead. Tri-City would reply to cut the lead to one, but two successive attempts by Tri-City in pulling their goaltender led to empty net goals and a 5-2 win for the Winterhawks. Portland outshot the Americans 49-41 and each team scored once on the powerplay, as Tri-City had five-man advantage opportunities to Portland’s three. Despite his strong play, Cole Kehler did not achieve a star of the game, ending his run at three games.

Prince Albert Raiders arrived next on the first game of their US Division swing and were ready to go right off the bat. With just over three minutes elapsed in the first period and on the powerplay, Jordy Stallard put the visitors on the board. The Hawks and Raiders would end the first period with a combined 11 shots on net and the visitors up by one. The second and third periods were all Hawks as Cole Kehler shut the door on the Raiders and the Hawks would fire off six straight goals, five of them on the powerplay to blast the Raiders 6-1. Cody Glass and Brad Ginnell tallied a pair of goals each with singles by Henri Jokiharju and Skyler McKenzie to put the game on ice. The Raiders, one of the most penalized teams in the league, offered up 12 powerplays to the Hawks, including a ten-minute stretch where it appeared to be a revolving door penalty box for the Raiders during the third period where Portland picked up four of their powerplay goals, all while on 5 on 3 man advantages. Jokiharju and Ginnell each were awarded stars of the game and Cole Kehler picked up second star as he stopped 28 of 29 shots his way. Curtis Meger with 28 saves on 34 shots took the loss. Portland was 5 for 12 on the powerplay with the Raiders just 1 for 6 as the Hawks now look to another week off before their next game.

The Hawks vaulted to top spot in the US Division, two points up on Tri-City, still with a game in hand and two points back of Moose Jaw Warriors for the overall WHL league lead. With the teams ahead of them in the poll all having wins this week, Portland will be hard pressed to move up any spots, but could based on the fact that they have played fewer games. Cole Kehler will once again be in the running for WHL Goaltender of the Week with two wins and posting a 1.50 goals against average.

Next up for the Winterhawks will be the 5th Annual Shop With A Hawk. Funded in its entirety by the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, Winterhawks players will be partnered up with children from the Sunshine Division who are not expected to have Christmas. The event, which the Booster Club has offered up $15,000 over the five years, brought joy to over 125 children in the Portland Metropolitan area since its inception.

Saturday, November 18, the Hawks will return to Veterans Memorial Coliseum for Hawks Fight Cancer with several different cancer organizations featured around the building who will benefit from ticket sales from this link and other memorabilia on the concourse. This will be the Winterhawks last home game in November as they then head out on a ten-day trek to Alberta and southeast British Columbia as the last US Division team to fend out on the Central Swing.

Portland Winterhawks Start Month Off On Winning Note – Kehler Shines In Net

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Portland Winterhawks Start Month Off On Winning Note – Kehler Shines In Net

BY STUART KEMP

After a tough three game slide ending the month of October, it’s another three for the Portland Winterhawks to start the month of November, this time in the win column.

With a tough home battle with the Prince George Cougars, who had blanked the Hawks in early October, and matches on the road with the Spokane Chiefs, whom they had beaten early in the season, and Everett, who had sneaked by the Hawks just the week prior, it was proving to be a tall test.

[NBC Sports Gold "Blazers Pass" 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 - click to learn more and buy]

Like so many of the Hawks slow starts, the opposition scored first in two of the three games last week. At home against the Cougars, both teams seemed content throwing everything at the net in the first and second period, but it would be late in the second when Prince George’s Kody McDonald opened the scoring and they would hold that lead to the start of the third period. Mason Mannek hasn’t scored many goals for the Hawks, but when he does, it lifts the team. Mannek would score just over a minute into the third period to tie the game and send the game close to overtime. However, Cody Glass ensured that wouldn’t happen. With just over thirty seconds remaining in regulation, Glass put the Hawks on top for good. Neither team scored on the seven powerplays split between them and the Hawks outshot the Cougars 42- 30. The star of the game was goaltender Cole Kehler, who went above and beyond the call of duty with some spectacular saves to keep the Hawks in the game.

The team then traveled to Spokane and the Chiefs were waiting. Just over nine minutes into the first period, Jaret Anderson-Dolan put the Chiefs on the board, but it would be the only one past starting goaltender Cole Kehler. The Hawks would put three behind Chiefs netminder Dawson Weatherill within a seven-minute span by Matthew Quigley and a pair by Keifer Bellows, both of which came on the struggling powerplay to lock up the game. Cody Glass would add the final nail with just over four minutes left in the third to close out the scoring on a Hawks 4-1 victory. The Hawks went two for five on the powerplay and blanked Spokane on their four opportunities. The Chiefs outshot Portland by a 48-34 margin and, again, it was goaltender Cole Kehler who earned first star stopping 47 shots.

Less than 24 hours later and on the other side of Washington, it was the Silvertips Pink the Rink night supporting those fighting cancer, but it was the Tips that would be blue at the end of the night. Kieffer Bellows opened the scoring for the Hawks with a great shot in front of the net which would hold up through the first and second periods as the lead. Sean Richards would capitalize for Everett just over a minute into the third, but Alex Overhardt would reply for Portland neat the midway point of the game to restore the Hawks lead. Skyler McKenzie would cap the night with an empty net goal and despite the Tips having a powerplay and their goaltender off for an extra attacker, they could not put any more pucks past Kehler ,who stopped 43 of 44 shots. It was a spectacular series of three saves in a row that would earn Kehler his third straight first star of the game honors this week. He now leads the league for goaltenders with a 2.09 goals against average and a .935 save percentage. He will most likely be taking home WHL Goaltender of the Week honors and be up for strong consideration as CHL Goaltender of the Week with three wins and a 1.00 goals against average for the week.

The Hawks take the next week off and then play the next three games at home against Tri-City for Military Appreciation Night on November 11, then the following night, the always tough Prince Albert Raiders from the Eastern Division before a Hawks Fight Cancer Night against the Memorial Cup Hosts Regina Pats the following Saturday. Coming out of that stretch, fans will have to wait two weeks before another home game as the team hits the Central Swing to Alberta, the last team in the US Division to do so.

Ice Chips: This Tuesday from 4-6pm, Ilijah Colina, Alex Overhardt,Reece Newkirk and Matthew Quigley will meet fans at Les Schwab on NE Columbia in Portland while Keoni Texeira, Brad Ginnell, Jake Gricius and Clay Hanus will meet fans at Les Schwab on SW Walker Road in Beaverton . The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club will conduct its annual Christmas Ornament Auction starting next week through December 16 at the Booster Club table during home games. The now twice yearly Try Hockey for Free, which allows kids ages 4-9 to try hockey out at no cost, had overflowing crowds at both Mountain View Ice Arena in Vancouver, WA and Winterhawks Skating Center in Beaverton. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, February 3, 2018.

Portland Winterhawks Ground Rockets In Weekend Action

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Portland Winterhawks Ground Rockets In Weekend Action

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This past week, the Portland Winterhawks jumped up a spot to fifth in the CHL rankings and Cole Kehler, coming off a Goaltender of the Week nod by the league, was looking to stymie the Kelowna Rockets with back to back games in Portland. For the Rockets, it was also a chance to jump up in the CHL rankings where they had been an honorable mention and the matchup looked to be as good as anything on paper.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Returning to the lineup after a several game absence for Portland was Joachim Blichfeld, who had been out with a concussion. The Hawks also learned that Ryan Hughes would be out indefinitely from the collision against Spokane in what we first thought might have been a concussion, but in fact was much further south in the body to the tune of a broken ankle. Hughes had surgery on Wednesday and could be out into the new year. Rykr Cole, who initiated the hit, was suspended three games. With the news, the Hawks looked to prove they were more than just a one-line team.

Joachim Blichfeld showed no rust in his return as he scored Portland’s first goal while on the powerplay just over seven minutes into the game. Kieffer Bellows on the powerplay and Henri Jokiharju just over a minute after Bellows goal gave the Hawks a 3-0 lead after the first period. The Hawks ran into penalty trouble in the second period as Keoni Texeira took a major penalty and game misconduct for check to the head and seconds later, Carsen Twarynski put the Rockets on the board. The Hawks would give up goals late in the second and early in the third period to tie the game. Three minutes later, Brad Ginnell scored to put the Hawks ahead. With just over four minutes left in the game, Twarynski netted his second of the game to send the contest into overtime. It was almost the blink of an eye, 24 seconds to be exact, before Skyler McKenzie potted the winner to give the Winterhawks a 4-3 final in overtime.

Portland went three of four on the powerplay while limiting Kelowna to just one goal on four opportunities. Portland outshot Kelowna 39 to 21.

The next night, Portland learned that Texeira was assessed a two game suspension, which pulled him from the lineup and allowed rookie Nick Cicek the chance to play his first WHL game of the season. Shane Farkas also made a return to the net, his first appearance since allowing five goals in the Hawks 10-5 win over Seattle in Kent, Washington the week prior.

The Hawks close brush with a loss the previous evening seemed to fire their engines as they scored three goals in the first 16 minutes of the game. Mason Mannek, Kieffer Bellows and Jake Gricius put the Rockets on the defensive as they doubled the shots on the Rockets starting goaltender Brodan Salmond versus those on Farkas and the Rockets elected to make a change at the start of the second period. James Porter relieved Salmond in the Rockets net and the Hawks once again found themselves in penalty trouble. Twice during the period, the Hawks gave the Rockets a two-man advantage of which the Rockets cashed in on one time. However, it was the Hawks would score three during the period with Bellows notching his second of the game and Skyler McKenzie picking up a pair to put the home squad ahead 6-1. Goals in the third period by Illijah Colina on the powerplay and Joachim Blichfeld made it 8-1. The Rockets Kyle Topping would squeeze a late goal past Shane Farkas on the powerplay, but the game was never in question as the Hawks skated away with an 8-2 drubbing of the Rockets. The shots on goal favored the Rockets 35-32, due to the two-man advantage powerplay chances the Rockets had. Portland went 3 for 6 on the powerplay with the Rockets scoring their two goals on eight opportunities.

The quirky schedule continues with the Rockets and Hawks meeting again this coming week, this time in Kelowna which will end their season series in the regular season. The Hawks will then look at two more games in the month of October, a once a season meeting with the very strong Eastern Division Moose Jaw Warriors and a battle with the Everett Silvertips.

Portland should improve in the CHL rankings this coming week after their performance and moving to within a point of the overall lead in the Western Hockey League.

Ice Chips: The Portland Winterhawks players will fan out to 12 Portland Metro and Southwest Washington Toyota dealerships on Saturday, October 28 from 12-2pm and will also appear at Les Schwab locations in Beaverton and Portland on November 7 from 4:30 to 6pm.

Winterhawks go 3-0 in three night road trip

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Winterhawks go 3-0 in three night road trip

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For the Portland Winterhawks, who had played just three games in two weeks, it was time to see how they would fare in a three games in three nights road trip. Starting in the northeast corner of Washington, the Hawks would battle the Spokane Chiefs, a team that had started the season surprisingly strong and was leading the division.

It didn’t take long for Spokane to show their muster as just over a minute into the game; Jake McGrew took advantage of errors in the Portland zone to score on Cole Kehler. However, that would be the only puck to get past Kehler and it seemed to ignite the Hawks. Just a minute later, Ty Kolle scored his first of the season to knot the game and keep it that way through the first period. The second period was all Hawks with an early goal by Bronson Sharp and goals by Sklyer McKenzie on the powerplay and Keoni Texeira late in the second, put the Hawks out of reach of a Chiefs comeback. The third period saw much of the same as Ryan Hughes on the powerplay and Cody Glass toward the end of the third, rounded out the scoring.

Cole Kehler stopped 30 of 31 shots as he was named the game’s first star, while Dawson Wetherill went the distance for Spokane stopping 28 of 34 Portland shots. Portland scored on two of five powerplay opportunities while Spokane was unable to convert on its seven chances with the man advantage.

Less than 24 hours later, Portland was at the ShoWare Center with a televised game against the Seattle Thunderbirds. The previous televised game in Portland saw the Hawks dismantle the Thunderbirds and they were hoping for a repeat. Earlier in the week, Turner Ottenbreit learned of his fate with being handed a six game suspension for his hit on Joachim Blichfeld on September 30 in Portland.

The Thunderbirds started the game in similar fashion to the Hawks versus Spokane game with an early goal just over a minute into the first period as Zack Andrusiak snapped a shot over the right shoulder of Shane Farkas to give the Birds an early lead. Midway through the first period, Keoni Texeira evened the game with blast from the point on the powerplay. Just a minute later, Skyler McKenzie put the Hawks in the lead and late in the period, Ryan Hughes added another Portland marker to put the Hawks up by two.

Early in the second period, Henri Jokiharju notched his first of the year, but was replied back by Sami Moilanen for Seattle to keep the Thunderbirds close. Less than sixteen seconds later, Jake Gricius scored his first of the year followed by Jokiharu’s second of the night, spelling the end of Seattle’s starting goaltender Matt Berlin. With Liam Hughes taking over net duties, Portland swarmed the Seattle zone time and time again and finally broke down the wall with Skyler McKenzie grabbing his fifth of the year. Seattle’s Matthew Wedman would add a late goal in the second period to make it a five goal game.

The third period saw Ty Kolle and Cody Glass score early before Sami Moilanen scored his second of the game. Mason Mannek, who made the Hawks roster this season for the first time, scored his first goal of the season to put the Hawks into double digits. Late in the game, Blake Barger scored for Seattle to make it just a five goal game.

Portland outshot Seattle 39-28 and went 1 for 2 on the powerplay. Seattle went 2 for 3 on the powerplay and, with the loss, dropped to the bottom of the US Division while Portland moved to the top.

Up next was a return date with the Spokane Chiefs, a team they will play twice at home in just three days. The Sunday afternoon matchup saw the Hawks take the lead just over five minutes into the game with Skyler McKenzie notching his sixth goal of the season. Just over a minute later it was Keoni Texeira with his fourth of the season to put the Hawks up by two.

Spokane made the board with Riley Woods scoring his fourth goal of the year, but the Hawks held the strong advantage in shots on goal. The second period was all Hawks as they scored four goals in ten minutes to put the game out of reach. Conor MacEachern, Mckenzie with one on the powerplay and a pair by Ryan Hughes including a short-handed goal which came as a result of a five minute powerplay to the Chiefs, were all the Hawks needed and then some. Donovan Buskey, who started the game for the Chiefs, was replaced by Dawson Weatherill who promptly gave up the short-handed goal to Hughes. The lengthy powerplay to the Chiefs came as a result of a cross check major to Brendan DeJong who will learn of any additional penalty on Monday. The Chiefs player was able to skate off on his own which may reduce DeJong’s time off. In the third, Henri Jokiharju put the Hawks up by six, before Spokane’s Eli Zummack completed the scoring to make it Portland 7 Spokane 2. The Winterhawks outshot the Chiefs 33 to 23 and blanked the Chiefs on six powerplay chances including the major, while Portland took one goal on three opportunities on the powerplay.

The same two teams will walk across the concourse to the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday to play again and it will be interesting to see if the Hawks, who have now outscored their opponents 23- 8 in three games, will be as lucky in as many tries against Spokane. With the win, Portland took over sole possession of first place in the US Division and a tie for third overall in the Western Hockey League standings

The Western Hockey League made some announcements this past week with the Board of Governors accepting the sale of the Seattle Thunderbirds to Dan and Lindsey Leckett, who co-own an HVAC and data center equipment manufacturing company in Edmonton, Alberta and satellite offices in Phoenix, Virginia, Seattle and Dublin, Ireland. The Lecketts also have stakes in two Alberta based hockey clubs. As per the agreement, General Manager Russ Farwell and President Colin Campbell will stay on with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The WHL also announced that it was aligning its schedule with that of the OHL and QMJHL in running a 68 game regular season. Curerntly the WHL runs a 72 game season and that will hold for this year. Two home games and two road games will be removed, most likely in games versus divisional opponents and offer a better balanced schedule.

Winterhawks flying high in preseason, changes in roster both on and off the ice

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Winterhawks flying high in preseason, changes in roster both on and off the ice

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With 11 players either drafted by NHL teams or invited to NHL Training Camps, the Portland Winterhawks certainly have the largest contingent representing the Western Hockey League. Forwards Ryan Hughes and Alex Overhardt head to the Nashville Predators, defenseman Henri Jokiharju will head to the Chicago Blackhawks, forward Skyler McKenzie and goaltender Cole Kehler will take in Winnipeg Jets camp, forward Joachim Blichfeld heads down I-5 to San Jose to be with the Sharks, forward Evan Weinger will take part in the Los Angeles Kings camp, defenseman Brendan DeJong will attend Carolina Hurricanes camp, forward Kiefer Bellows will attend NY Islanders camp, and the newest addition to the NHL, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, will introduce their sixth overall draft pick, forward Cody Glass, along with defenseman Keoni Texeira.

The Hawks, meanwhile, will be hard at work trying to assess who will remain on their roster when they start the regular season in just over two weeks. Among the decisions will be the glut of overage players on their roster. Goaltender Cole Kehler is in a battle for the job with two netminders still on the list – Shane Farkas, whom the team picked up at trade deadline last season, and Evan Fradette, who is just sixteen years of age. Ethan Middendorf, who was off and on the roster last season and spent the majority of the season with the Vancouver, WA Rangers of the Western States Hockey League, has been dropped from the roster altogether, though he is still on the protected list. On the defensive side, Keoni Texeira is the only overage player who is in battles with the defense roster spot and is probably the safest to be on the opening night roster unless the Golden Knights in the NHL sign him to a deal and place him in their farm system.

The forwards situation is the most stressful with Alex Overhardt and Evan Weinger having invites to NHL camps and Colton Veloso, who wasn’t given an invite to a camp, but provided the best reason for being on the roster with a strong Winterhawks camp and preseason tournament games. With teams having to pare down to just three overage players by mid-October, the phones are sure to be buzzing from teams who may be in the market for strong players from the Winterhawks system.

The Hawks, in addition to Ethan Middendorf, removed defenseman Darren Gisti and forward Easton Easterson from the roster which left them with nineteen forwards, ten defensemen and three goaltenders for thirty-two players. The roster will have to undergo close to nine more reductions before the final rosters are set. Teams are only allowed to carry three overage players on their firm roster. Currently, the Winterhawks have five players listed as overage on their roster.

The players that were on the roster, with the exception of Cody Glass who was attending a camp in Toronto, Ontario, took part in the annual “tournaments” in Everett and Kennewick. Portland faced off against Spokane, Tri-City and Everett in the Everett tournament, winning one and losing two in regulation. In Kennewick, they won all three games as they played Spokane, Kootenay and Red Deer. It’s tough to call these games tournaments as teams don’t play round robin games, instead looking to matches that assist their teams to get better assessment of players.

With the Hawks done in preseason games, they will spend the next week making final cuts, looking for homes for players that won’t be on the roster for the time being to keep tabs on their progress and gearing up for their first regular season game on Saturday, September 23 in Everett versus the Silvertips.

Three people left the Winterhawks organization at the end of the season. Kevin Williams, who was in charge of game night operations, was replaced by Yinka Omolayole, who was working with Community Events for the past two seasons. Lesley Dawson, who was in charge of Community Events, was replaced by Leslie Pfau as the new Director of Marketing and Events and Piper Criscola who will manage Public Relations and Community Engagement. Both new additions were long time employees of Entercom Media and bring that experience to the squad.

One question still to be resolved is that of game broadcasts. The latest departure may have more significant impacts to both the team and how it airs games. Todd Vrooman, son of long time broadcaster Dean “Scooter” Vrooman, left the team in July, though it wasn’t announced until just a short time ago. Todd had been the current voice of the Winterhawks for the past six seasons as well as involved heavily in the podcasts and Hawkey Talk, which was a weekly Monday night show on KPAM 860AM, the same home for airing Winterhawks games. Todd had also been involved with Winterhawks programs in schools and other events which took a great deal of what little free time he had left.

Ron Callan, who hosted the Monday night Hawkey Talk, acknowledged that he has not been contacted for resuming the show this season and no mention has been made by the Winterhawks as to a replacement for Vrooman, which could mean that Andy Kemper will handle home game details, but nothing has been announced for away games. The Hawks floated the livestream broadcast via their app on phones before which received mixed reviews and would certainly eliminate those who rely on radio for broadcasts to hear their team on the road.

While nothing has yet been announced, with so little time before the season begins, chances are that the Portland Winterhawks will be the only team in the Western Hockey League without a radio broadcast. Jeremy Imig, who has been instrumental in helping get games on the air with CW 32 the past couple of seasons, may be pressed into action to get broadcasts out on a larger scale. To date, no announcement has been made on televised games this season.

Hockey Season Has Arrived – Portland Winterhawks Open Training Camp

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Dayna Fjord/Portland Winterhawks

Hockey Season Has Arrived – Portland Winterhawks Open Training Camp

For some, the wait has been unbearable, for others, it’s been a nonstop ride. Following the exit in the second round of the Portland Winterhawks, the team went on a searching mission to build back the legacy the team had going for it for nearly six seasons.

Fans will have a chance over the next four days, to see prospects and current players scrimmage in two sets of games in the afternoon through Saturday with a final pair of scrimmages taking place Sunday morning. Due to renovations at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, the event will take place at the Moda Center. Tickets, which are available through www.winterhawks.com are $6 per day in a format known as the Neely Cup. Named for standout Winterhawk and NHL alumni Cam Neely, the teams which are as equally divided as possible will compete against each other for the rights to call them champion. Similar to regular season, teams will be awarded points for a win and the top teams will compete on Sunday for the cup which the last two teams will compete for third overall.

With tremendous recruiting and design, the Hawks took top spot or near top spot from 2010 to 2016 and made many teams cringe when they were the opposition. Developing stars like Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Johansen, Seth Jones and now a new crop which includes Brendan Liepsic, Nic Petan and soon to include Cody Glass with his sixth overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft and Henri Jokiharju picked up 29th overall by Chicago in the first round, show the Hawks are looking to the future.

In the offseason, Assistant Coach Oliver David gained the opportunity to return to Dubuque and take over the head coaching reigns for the Fighting Saints. Recently, the Hawks found an assistant coach whose resume is a mile long of experience. Danny Flynn, who has been involved in coaching in both the OHL and QMJHL for over twenty years, brings championship experience. His teams have appeared in six Memorial Cup tournaments, most recently being last season with the St John SeaDogs of the QMJHL. Adding to this, he has also been an assistant coach with both the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres of the NHL and will bring a wealth of knowledge for when current Head Coach, General Manager and Vice President of the Portland Winterhawks Mike Johnston is involved with other team dealings and meetings and needs to assume bench control.

The Winterhawks also returned a familiar face to Portland in recently retired NHL star Paul Gaustad. Paul was named an Assistant Coach in Player Development. His role will be that of working with the forwards on ice and organizing development plans for players on the fifty-man protected list. Paul’s name is associated with the Paul Gaustad Fitness Award, which is given out at the end of the Winterhawks training camp to the player with the highest fitness testing result.

The Hawks look to be in strong shape this season with twenty year old spots (those born in 1997) to be fought for by Alex Overhardt, Colton Veloso, Keoni Texiera and Evan Weinger. The maximum allowed per team is three to be firmed up by mid-October. Goaltender Cole Kehler, who was also born in 1997, is classified as a “late birthday”, meaning that he is listed as nineteen years of age at the start of the season and will turn twenty during the season in this case, December 2017. A player can continue in the CHL until the year they turn 21, which would be next season during the season for Kehler,

Shane Farkas, who came to the team during the trade deadline and appeared in several games, looks to be in solidly for a spot which means that Ethan Middendorf, who spent the majority of his season with the Vancouver Rangers of the Western States Hockey League, will be hard pressed to crack the lineup. The Rangers, who operated out of Mountain View Ice Arena last season, merged with the West Sound Warriors in Bremerton, Washington to play there this coming season.

Players who have departed the team from last year due to age are Keegan Iverson, who signed a pro deal with the Ontario Reign which are affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings, Matt Revel and Shaun Dosanjh, who came to the Hawks at trade deadline and look to be headed to University hockey. Caleb Jones, who was drafted and signed by the Edmonton Oilers, will most likely report to their AHL farm team this year which leaves the Hawks in great shape this year, having lost the fewest impact players.

Following the completion of the Neely Cup, there will be a free event for the public as the Toyota Fan Fest brings the players, fun activities and more to the promenade of the Rose Quarter starting at noon on Sunday. The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club will also be in attendance promoting upcoming trips, membership and more.

While the Winterhawks can claim to be in solid position for the upcoming season, the same cannot be said for teams up north. Both the Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips are losing some key players in their lineup, and in the case of the Thunderbirds, their coach as well. Former Portland Winterhawk star Steve Konowalchuk, who came to the Thunderbirds as their head coach, has taken an assignment as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks.

In other US Division news, the Spokane Chiefs added an assistant coach as well when former Portland Winterhawk Adam Deadmarsh signed on with the team. Deadmarsh, who was forced to retire early due to concussion issues in the 2011-12 season, will bolster a Chiefs bench and add credibility with the departure last year of long time general manager Tim Speltz.

The Tri-City Americans seem to be relatively solid for this season, but also suffered some loses of key players in the offseason.

Many are predicting the Hawks to be atop the US Division standings with Seattle having the toughest time making the playoffs as they rebuild. Spokane may be a tougher challenge this season, but they are a relative unknown in consistency and Everett and Tri-City may be the ones battling for that last playoff spot.

Following training camps, teams will start to play in “tournament games” to test lines, players and get a feel for gelling a team. The teams will do this for the next two weeks with regular season games starting in the third week of September. Portland will show off its team at home for the first time on September 30 versus Seattle.

Ice Chips: While no firm venues have been announced, the team has made some changes to its start times. Saturday games at home will now start at 6pm to avoid any conflict with Trail Blazers games and other potential later start events at the Moda Center. A schedule change in January with a game originally set as Monday, January 22 versus Brandon Wheat Kings, will now be played on Sunday, January 21. Currently, no game is listed or appears to be available with the very popular Daylight Game.