As expected, the Portland Winterhawks fell out of the CHL poll this week with three losses in as many games, with the only real stable WHL team being Prince Albert Raiders, who continues to be atop the CHL poll. One of the teams in the poll was Victoria, which was a team the Hawks had to battle and look decent against, as they were hoping to gain some credibility.
With two buildings, the Hawks used both to entertain the Victoria Royals in their only appearances in the Rose City scheduled for this year. The first game was played in the Moda Center with the Winterhawks outshooting Victoria 28-21 and getting a 7-3 win. Things started quickly as former Royal Jared Freadrich scored on the powerplay just 1:37 into the game. The Royals tied the game about 10 minutes later, also on the powerplay. Two goals later in the period, one which came on the power play by Brendan De Jong and a regular strength by Reece Newkirk gave the Hawks a two-goal lead heading to the dressing room. Two goals in the second by Victoria put the game into a tie again, but a goal by Portland’s Ryan Hughes put the Hawks on top. Three goals in the third by Joachim Blichfeld, Cody Glass and an empty-net goal by Hayden Delorme with his first ever WHL goal, put the game out of reach and a win for Portland.
The next day it was the Veterans Memorial Coliseum hosting the Hawks and Cancer Awareness Night and another battle with the Royals against the Hawks. The teams played a scoreless, but entertaining, first period. It was the second with a power-play goal by Joachim Blichfeld and an early goal by Cross Hanas was the only scoring in the period as the Hawks kept the pressure on Victoria. The shots were a high-scoring affair with Portland holding the edge 38-35, mostly coming in the final frame. Victoria would get a power-play goal early in the third, which made the game a nailbiter through the period, but the Hawks hung on and won 2-1.
That night, they traveled to Spokane to get a return date with the Chiefs—unlike the last time when they lost just a week ago and looked out of place in a 4-1 loss. This time it was defense out the window as both Glass and Jarvis missed the trip as they were scheduled for tournaments. The Hawks came into the game with Shane Farkas getting his third straight start. Spokane started things off with a goal just over three minutes into the game. Then things got a bit crazy: two goals by Portland, one of which was a powerplay goal before the midway point of the first period by Jake Gricius and Lane Gilliss gave the Hawks their first lead. Two goals by Spokane, including a powerplay goal restored the lead, but a penalty shot awarded to Jaydon Dureau tied the game as the teams headed to the dressing room. Two goals within 30 seconds gave the Chiefs the lead and spelled the night over for Shane Farkas. Dante Ginnuzzi came in as a relief and the rest of the way, faced only five Spokane shots.
The power play worked for Portland again as Jake Gricius scored to pull Portland a bit closer. Spokane would answer just under two minutes later to restore the lead, but Portland wasn’t done. A power-play goal by Ryan Hughes three minutes later and another by Reece Newkirk, also on the power-play, gave Portland a 7-6 lead. In the Hawks attack zone, the puck bounced off the glass and everyone thought it was out, but with no whistle, Portland’s John Ludvig scooped up the puck and sent Ryan Hughes down the side. A pass to Joachim Blichfeld into the empty net put the Hawks up by two and Spokane was never fully able to get out of their end in the remaining time. Ginnannuzi gets his first win of the season as he stops four of five and sees the Hawks go from a deficit to a win in Spokane which felt in many ways like a Sugarplum game as players think of Christmas as the Hawks win 8-6. The Hawks got 50-23 shots on net and had a strong power play at four of seven going in versus giving up one on four Spokane chances.
With three wins in three nights, the Hawks will face Kelowna in back-to-back games this coming weekend, before a three-games-in-four-night battle with US Division teams, Everett in a home-and-home series and the first televised game against Seattle November 17.