After a tough three game slide ending the month of October, it’s another three for the Portland Winterhawks to start the month of November, this time in the win column.
With a tough home battle with the Prince George Cougars, who had blanked the Hawks in early October, and matches on the road with the Spokane Chiefs, whom they had beaten early in the season, and Everett, who had sneaked by the Hawks just the week prior, it was proving to be a tall test.
Like so many of the Hawks slow starts, the opposition scored first in two of the three games last week. At home against the Cougars, both teams seemed content throwing everything at the net in the first and second period, but it would be late in the second when Prince George’s Kody McDonald opened the scoring and they would hold that lead to the start of the third period. Mason Mannek hasn’t scored many goals for the Hawks, but when he does, it lifts the team. Mannek would score just over a minute into the third period to tie the game and send the game close to overtime. However, Cody Glass ensured that wouldn’t happen. With just over thirty seconds remaining in regulation, Glass put the Hawks on top for good. Neither team scored on the seven powerplays split between them and the Hawks outshot the Cougars 42- 30. The star of the game was goaltender Cole Kehler, who went above and beyond the call of duty with some spectacular saves to keep the Hawks in the game.
The team then traveled to Spokane and the Chiefs were waiting. Just over nine minutes into the first period, Jaret Anderson-Dolan put the Chiefs on the board, but it would be the only one past starting goaltender Cole Kehler. The Hawks would put three behind Chiefs netminder Dawson Weatherill within a seven-minute span by Matthew Quigley and a pair by Keifer Bellows, both of which came on the struggling powerplay to lock up the game. Cody Glass would add the final nail with just over four minutes left in the third to close out the scoring on a Hawks 4-1 victory. The Hawks went two for five on the powerplay and blanked Spokane on their four opportunities. The Chiefs outshot Portland by a 48-34 margin and, again, it was goaltender Cole Kehler who earned first star stopping 47 shots.
Less than 24 hours later and on the other side of Washington, it was the Silvertips Pink the Rink night supporting those fighting cancer, but it was the Tips that would be blue at the end of the night. Kieffer Bellows opened the scoring for the Hawks with a great shot in front of the net which would hold up through the first and second periods as the lead. Sean Richards would capitalize for Everett just over a minute into the third, but Alex Overhardt would reply for Portland neat the midway point of the game to restore the Hawks lead. Skyler McKenzie would cap the night with an empty net goal and despite the Tips having a powerplay and their goaltender off for an extra attacker, they could not put any more pucks past Kehler ,who stopped 43 of 44 shots. It was a spectacular series of three saves in a row that would earn Kehler his third straight first star of the game honors this week. He now leads the league for goaltenders with a 2.09 goals against average and a .935 save percentage. He will most likely be taking home WHL Goaltender of the Week honors and be up for strong consideration as CHL Goaltender of the Week with three wins and a 1.00 goals against average for the week.
The Hawks take the next week off and then play the next three games at home against Tri-City for Military Appreciation Night on November 11, then the following night, the always tough Prince Albert Raiders from the Eastern Division before a Hawks Fight Cancer Night against the Memorial Cup Hosts Regina Pats the following Saturday. Coming out of that stretch, fans will have to wait two weeks before another home game as the team hits the Central Swing to Alberta, the last team in the US Division to do so.
Ice Chips: This Tuesday from 4-6pm, Ilijah Colina, Alex Overhardt,Reece Newkirk and Matthew Quigley will meet fans at Les Schwab on NE Columbia in Portland while Keoni Texeira, Brad Ginnell, Jake Gricius and Clay Hanus will meet fans at Les Schwab on SW Walker Road in Beaverton . The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club will conduct its annual Christmas Ornament Auction starting next week through December 16 at the Booster Club table during home games. The now twice yearly Try Hockey for Free, which allows kids ages 4-9 to try hockey out at no cost, had overflowing crowds at both Mountain View Ice Arena in Vancouver, WA and Winterhawks Skating Center in Beaverton. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, February 3, 2018.