When the weekend games were coming up, two tough teams were on the horizon. The Everett Silvertips had given the Winterhawks a real battle in their games thus far this season, yet all had been very close. Except for empty net goals, Portland had lost its last eight games by just one goal per game. The match with Everett in Veterans Memorial Coliseum would just add to the Hawks’ woes. Everett would put up the first two goals of the game midway through the first period on the power play and early in the second to put things tight on the Hawks. Keegan Iverson would take the goose egg off the scoreboard midway through the third, but could never get the tying goal and lost their ninth straight and another one goal game by a 2-1 score. Everett capitalized on one of five power plays, while the Hawks were blanked on four. Cole Kehler took the loss in net, still stopping 26 of 28 shots, while Carter Hart allowed just the 1 goal on 24 shots.
The next night, action moved over to the Moda Center against the Calgary Hitmen who had been unbeaten in their last five games, but who had struggled at the start of the season. Portland would surrender a goal just over two minutes into the game and many thought it was going to be a long night. It certainly was, but not for the Hawks. Cody Glass woke up a struggling offense with a light show that dazzled the 8,000+ in the building. In a span of less than eight minutes, Glass banged home three goals in a row with Skyler McKenzie assisting on the natural hat trick to end the period with a 3-1 lead. The Hawks were just warming up as early in the second period, Caleb Jones scored, followed by Ryan Hughes, with both goals coming on the power play. With just under six minutes played in the second period, the Hitmen swapped Cody Porter from the net for Kyle Dumba to try to stop the bleeding with the Hawks now up 5-1. The game started getting a bit chippy and the Hawks found themselves in some penalty trouble, but for the Hitmen, they probably wish they could have declined the calls.
In a span of just 19 seconds, the Hitmen got caught up ice twice and surrendered two shorthanded goals to Skyler McKenzie and Brendan DeJong to now make it 7-1. Evan Weinger would add a late second period goal to put the Hawks up by a touchdown. Joachim Blichfeld would complete the Hawks scoring less than three minutes into the third and despite a goal by the Hitmen just 25 seconds later, the Hawks went on shutdown mode and ended the night fending off flurries of rough stuff by the Hitmen in a lopsided 9-2 score. In addition to the two shorthanded goals, the Hawks went 2 for 5 on the power play, while nullifying Calgary’s 5 chances. Cole Kehler picked up the win stopping 34 of 36 shots, while Calgary’s goaltending duo stopped 34 of 43, (Porter 16 of 21, Dumba 18 of 22).
What made this win so huge for Portland is that the last time they beat Calgary at home was in 2004 in a schedule that sees alternating years with the Central Division teams coming to Portland and gains some retribution for last year’s 6-2 loss in Calgary. The victory against Calgary ended the Hawks losing streak at nine games, three fewer than their longest, a twelve-game run that ironically started at the beginning of Mike Johnston’s era in 2008.
The Hawks now get ready for two games this coming weekend, a battle with Seattle that will air on CW32 at the Moda Center and a Sunday afternoon tilt with Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hawks will continue the homestand with the Airplane Toss on November 23rd, a Daylight Classic game at Veterans Memorial Coliseum against Victoria with a special 3pm start time on November 25th and an early Sunday game versus Prince George Cougars on Sunday, November 27th with a 2pm start time. The Winterhawks next road game will be Wednesday, November 30th when they travel to Spokane to face the Chiefs.