After the Portland Winterhawks stepped in at number nine in the CHL Poll, word came that Jonas Brondberg would be suiting up for Denmark at the World Juniors in the Czech Republic and would leave following the games in Kamloops.
Nick Perna, an eighteen-year-old defenceman, who saw limited action in a depth ridden defence, found himself traded to the Medicine Hat Tigers for a fourth-round bantam pick in 2020. The Hawks had limited picks following a couple of acquisitions in the past year, so refilling those picks wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. Perna is certain to pick up minutes in the Hat, so his move is a good one for him. The reduction puts the Hawks roster at 23.
With Brondberg leaving, Team Canada getting ready for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced that Joel Hofer is one of four goaltenders going to camp in a week. Joel should be here for the games up in Prince George and at least one contest when the two teams do battle in a week. Team Canada will conduct their camp in Oakville, Ontario starting December 9 and have a pair of games Dec 11 and 12. Starting December 26 to January 5, the tournament will take place in Edmonton and Red Deer.
The Hawks played a couple of games this weekend as they traveled to Kamloops to face the top team in the BC Division.
Portland was in for playoff-type hockey as the two teams played the first of a pair of games as tightly as they possibly could. Neither team would score on the man advantage with four chances afforded to each team. The shots on goal were equally close at 35-34 favoring Kamloops. Portland would open the scoring late into the first period, with a goal by Kade Nolan. That lead would hold until the late part of the second period when the Blazers were able to squeeze a two-on-one during their penalty kill. The shot tied the game and despite a strong third period and overtime, it wasn’t settled. The game went to a shootout where Seth Jarvis was the only player to light the lamp during the Hawks second shat, while Kamloops was unable to solve Joel Hofer. With Portland winning 2-1 in a shootout, the Hawks gave even more breathing room to themselves in the battle for the tough US Division crown.
The next night was Kamloops’ Teddy Bear Toss night and one that the Hawks would like a redo on. Though they scored once on their five chances, they would give up two on seven chances to the Blazers as the Blazers put up 46 shots on Joel Hofer to just 31 on Dylan Garand in the Kamloops net. Kamloops got on the board at the midway point of the game with a powerplay goal. Six minutes later the Blazers went up by two. It was in the second period that the Blazers would score once midway through the period as former Winterhawk Ryan Hughes showed the brilliance he had while in a Portland uniform. That power-play goal seemed to make the Hawks fall back quite a bit. The shots for Kamloops hit double digits at 14, while the Hawks were only able to generate 9 at the other end.
Kamloops would tally their fourth just over five minutes into the final frame. It wasn’t until the Hawks went to the last powerplay late in the third period that they would score. Reece Newkirk bagged his seventh of the season, but it was all they would get as the final would read Kamloops 4 Portland 1.
The next day the team traveled to Prince George to face the Cougars in a weird four games in six nights against the same team. The Hawks will play midweek in Prince George before turning around and playing the same Cougars with a pair of weekend games including Portland’s own Teddy Bear toss night.
There will be a couple of home games the following week taking place at the Moda Center before the Christmas break and Portland will play just one home game. Then, that being the New Years’ Eve game in the annual Battle with Seattle at the Moda Center.
With the tough games against Kamloops and a ninth placing in the CHL Poll, the Hawks will be hard-pressed to remain in there. Everett and Prince Albert were ranked fourth and sixth with honorable mention to Edmonton. The poll will come out prior to the second game against the Cougars. The Poll is very volatile this season with several changes so far, and with the way things are going, the poll will remain that way throughout the season.