Just two games remain on the Eastern Swing and so far the Hawks haven’t given up a point in the games thus far. The first was a bit of a battle in Swift Current that led to a trade. More on that in a moment, but the Hawks did enough to secure a win of 5-3 including an empty-net goal.
The next night it was Moose Jaw and the Hawks took all their venom to the Warriors, four goals in the first by Reece Newkirk, Jake Gricius, Lane Gilliss and Clay Hanus were all they needed, but added a goal by Jarvis and aone by Joachim Blichfeld to shut out the Warriors 6-0 With the day off, the team went to an outdoor rink in Regina for pond hockey and created memories of their own in the every two year battle.
Two nights later it was Brandon and a closely fought 4-3 win. Brandon opened things up early with a pair by Ben McCartney before the game was four minutes old. Two in the first by Michael Kvasnica and Seth Jarvis knotted the game at two heading onto the first intermission. Jaydon Dureau scored near the 15-minute mark of the second period and a shorthanded goal by Joachim Blichfeld at the midway point of the third period put the Hawks up by a pair. Five minutes later, Braden Schneider put the Kings close, but were unable to score when adding the sixth attacker. Jiri Patera was peppered with 51 shots on goal to 35 on Shane Farkas and neither team was successful on the three powerplays each.
The next night the Hawks faced the host team of last year’s Memorial Cup, the Regina Pats. Early in the day, the Hawks acquired goaltender Joel Hofer from Swift Current for six bantam picks. As Dante Giannuzzi is not eligible to be traded due to age, Evan Fradette was brought in, perhaps as trade bait, but ended up backing up Shane Farkas in Regina. Hofer adds to the Hawks goaltending situation with four top goaltenders and one, perhaps two that might go back to the farm system. Hofer is expected in Prince Albert where the Raiders lost a couple of games recently. The biggest upset was the loss to Seattle, who seemingly owned the Raiders from the start. The Hawks owned a 2-0 lead in the first with goals by Michael Kvasnica and Clay Hanus and opened the second period with a goal by Joachim Blichfeld to take a commanding lead. Regian countered with one late in the period, but was still down one at the end of two. Jared Freadrich scored for Portland very early in the third period and allowed Regina a goal six minutes later, but capped off the night with a Jaydon Dureau empty net goal late in the third period to take the game 5-2. Neither team scored on the two powerplays each and Portland held a 35-26 edge in shots.
They have two games left of the swing as they head to face Prince Albert and then finish off in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, before they head home and a week to prepare for another hot team, the Everett Silvertips who have been on a streak of their own. Nine points still separate Everett and Portland after both teams have played the same number of games. Both Spokane and Tri City are back a bit, even though they have games in hand, they remain far enough back even if they win those games.
The trade deadline has now come and gone, with the teams now frozen in trades and player acquisitions and it will be interesting to see how the teams that made the buys at the deadline are able to prolong their seasons.The Hawks waited until near the end with a bit of a surprise move. Ryan Hughes, who has spent his entire career of 252 games, was suddenly off to Saskatoon. Josh Paterson, who spent his entire career of 246 games in Saskatoon was now part of Portland’s team. The Hawks also gained two draft picks: A second-round pick next year and a fourth round pick in 2021. Both players were alternate captains of their respective franchises as well. Paterson will wear #61 for the Hawks.
Overall, there weren’t the major trades at deadline like previous seasons. Swift Current, Seattle and Kootenay continued to sell some players, Prince Albert added a couple more players to its roster including goaltender Boston Bilous from Edmonton on a conditional pick in 2022 of a sixth-round choice.