The first test on Tuesday for the Portland Winterhawks was a match against the Victoria Royals, without top scorer and captain Cody Glass. The Hawks started in good fashion rattling off goals by Cross Hanas before giving way to Victoria’s barrage of five straight goals. It started badly for Portland, who gave up three goals in the first period and two more in the second before Mason Mannek scored, breaking the onslaught by the Royals. Tarun Fizer completed the hat trick late in the second period and one more early in the third by Victoria spelled the end of the night for Shane Farkas. Only three shots came the way of Dante Giannuzzi who stopped them all. Midway through the third, Cross Hanas brought the Hawks within three, but no further scoring took place. The Hawks took a slight edge in shots 39-37 and both teams were goose egged on the four power plays each.
After giving way to Dante Giannuzzi in the third period the previous night, the Hawks went back to Shane Farkas and there was concern early on that there may have been an error. Two goals by Victoria in the first period, gave the home squad a 2-0 lead including an assist by Fizer who had burned the Hawks the night before. With that lead the teams headed to the dressing room.
Two goals, a minute apart starting at the five-minute mark by Ryan Hughes and Seth Jarvis, pulled the teams even in the middle frame. The Hawks went to work: A power-play goal by Ryan Hughes and a shorthanded marker by Joachim Blichfeld, seemed to do the trick in deflating Victoria as the third was all Hawks on the scoresheet. Markers by Jaydon Dureau, Reece Newkirk and Joachim Blichfeld, both of which came on the powerplay, gave the Hawks a 7-2 win over the Royals as they now head to a home and home series with the Tri City Americans who are looking at trying to get that last spot of a guaranteed playoff spot. Starting goaltender Griffen Outhouse was replaced during the third period after surrendering six goals by Brock Gould who faced three shots and gave up the Blichfeld goal.
Portland was sharp on the powerplay, notching three of four chances with the man advantage, while shutting down all six of Victoria’s power plays. Portland also held a small shot advantage at 34-26 as they keep Victoria at bay.
It was a good thing Portland won the game as they saw Spokane capture a shootout match against the Everett Silvertips. Both Portland and Spokane have played 32 games, two less than Everett, but 12 points back of the Silvertips.
The CHL poll came out with the Prince Albert Raiders holding top spot once again and two other teams, Vancouver Giants and Everett Silvertips at the middle of the pack as they get ready to take the Christmas break. Prince Albert lost a pair of games one in a shootout to the Swift Current Broncos and then a very close 1-0 loss in regulation to the Saskatoon Blades. Prince Albert has only lost two in regulation all season and once in a shootout as they fast approach the midway point of the season.
With the upcoming games against Tri City, the Hawks will then take the next 10 days off as they take the Christmas break before yet another battle with the Tri City Americans as they face the Seattle Thunderbirds in the annual New Year’s Eve Battle with Seattle.