Prior to their home debut, which was all of one game before another road trip lasting until October 10, the Portland Winterhawks headed to very warm Kennewick, WA to face the Tri-City Americans. The lone match for Tri-City ahead of that contest was a 6-1 shellacking of the Spokane Chiefs, thought to be a contender for the Memorial Cup.
It was a wild affair with the Hawks giving the lead by two goals in the first eight minutes of play. Jake Gricius scored a goal with just under five minutes left and then it got crazy. Five goals in the second period, including a pair by Reece Newkirk, gave the Hawks a two-goal lead. It wasn’t safe, Portland gave up a powerplay goal midway through the third and allowed Tri-City to tie it less than a minute later.
The Hawks could only muster one goal in the shootout to Tri-City’s pair and the result was a 6-5 shootout win for the Americans. Portland outshot Tri-City 28-24 and added one more powerplay goal than the Americans, each with seven chances with the man advantage. The point by the Hawks, getting past regulation, gave them the first point of the season and set the stage for a Saturday showdown with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The near sellout crowd witnessed what can be described as an old fashioned battle with the two teams scrapping for pucks and each other as nearly ninety minutes in penalty time were handed out by the officials. The bad blood gave three goals on the powerplay to the Hawks and none on five chances for Seattle, as an empty-net goal sealed the fate of Seattle.
Portland now hits the road with a pair in Kamloops and one in Everett before two home games at the Coliseum, one versus Edmonton and another against Everett as the Hawks look to be a stronger force in the US Division. The Hawks should have Rylan Bettens from Brandon this coming week as they head to Kamloops and Everett and will roll him out on Coliseum ice in two weeks.
In the days following the roster reductions, Conor MacEachern signed with the Summerside Capitals in Price Edward Island, Ryan Miley has settled into to Surrey Eagles of the BCHL and Lukas MacKenzie will start school again as his shoulder, which he injured at the end of last season, did not recover as well as one would have liked to and his interest in hockey subsided, but he has years to fall back on school wise.