The Portland Winterhawks made some moves this past week, some of which were motivated by players coming back, others by roster reductions. With the surprise arrival this past week of Joachim Blichfeld from San Jose instead of the AHL or ECHL, it became clear with four overage players, they needed to make a reduction.
That decision was made before they played their first game as scratched for two consecutive games, Conor MacEchern and Dean Schwimminger were going to be the ones cut. Blichfled posed a problem, as he was both an import and an overage, which meant they had to downsize by two.
MacEachern was waived this weekend and given a chance to find a spot to play. Schwimminger’s, also waived but as an import, chance to land somewhere on North American soil is reduced. Also sent to Junior A was Ryan Miley, who was close to making the team this season with a strong camp but had strong competition this year. Unlike last year, where he just disappeared, he was given a mention in the roster reductions. It leaves Portland with still too many players
Cody Glass returned to Portland as expected, but he didn’t dress in regular season games. It leaves Skyler McKenzie in Winnipeg and Henri Jokiharju in Chicago. The word is Skyler will make the AHL Moose after an impressive game against the Oilers on TV where he recorded a couple of goals and had a big piece on him during intermission. Henri, while a year younger, has an unusual clause in that he was a loaned player from Finland and with it, could move to the AHL or could even make the Chicago squad as he has impressed Coach Joel Quennville. Glass should be in the lineup this weekend when they have two US Division battles in Tri-City and a home opener against Seattle at the Moda Center this weekend.
The road to start the season was not a kind one to Portland as they had a tough go in Kent, WA versus the Thunderbirds. A six-minute stint during the second period gave the home team the lead and the win as everyone on the Winterhawks squad seemed to forget they were playing a regular season game, The Hawks lost 5-3 on an empty net goal after fighting back from a four to one deficit. Part of the battle was made by Seth Jarvis, who bagged two goals seven minutes apart in the third period to bring it close.
The Hawks had little time and distance to worry as they went less than an hour north to Everett to face the Silvertips. The Tips were the only team this week to play three games in three nights with two straight to Vancouver Giants on a home and home series where they lost each night 3-1. The Tips were sharp, and Portland a bit sharper if not for the fact like the previous night, they paraded to the penalty box. In two games, the Hawks have averaged twenty minutes in the box, which hurts them and add in several five on three chances to the Tips and a look to take the lead and then go to the box against Seattle spelled their demise.
While they were outshot on both nights, by a limited margin, they proved they are a tough force to start the season. Whether they remain in the CHL poll remains to be seen. With the Hawks, many don’t see a full team well into the WHL campaign, so adjustments this early give the team a chance to gel. It is a weird run over the month as the Hawks play one game at home in September and then play none at home until near the middle of October.
Thea Hawks will again have split squad player attendees at Les Schwab in Hazel Dell and Milwaukie on Tuesday, October 23 and all players at twelve Toyota dealers from Longview to Salem on Saturday, October 13.