With a shutout loss looming from their last home game versus the Saskatoon Blades, perhaps a change of scenery would help with a two-game mini road trip to Canada and Washington State with games against the Vancouver Giants and then the Everett Silvertips.
Starting in British Columbia, the Portland Winterhawks would face a Giants team that has struggled in recent years and could provide the fodder for the Hawks latest loss. However, the Giants had other plans. The first period saw the Hawks dominate the shot clock with a 14-6 advantage, but it was the Giants who scored on two of those shots to take the lead at the end of the first period. Owen Hardy scored midway through the first connecting on a Dawson Holt pass in the front of the net while the Giants were shorthanded to open the scoring. With just a minute and a half left in the period, Hardy found his way free again and put the home team up by two. The Giants had taken a couple of penalties in the first period which the Hawks used to get some chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The second period saw the Giants take a boarding penalty which resulted in the highly potent Portland powerplay getting back to work. Less than a minute into the powerplay, Kieffer Bellows and Joachim Blichfeld stretched out goaltender David Tendeck and fed a pass to Cody Glass who fired into the open net to cut the lead in half. The Giants outshot the Hawks 16 to 12 and set the stage for a strong third period. After the Hawks had some strong pressure in the Giants zone, Owen Hardy started a rally that eventually found its way to Aidan Barfoot at the side of the net to make it 3-1. Immediately the Hawks went down to the Vancouver zone and poured on the pressure and fired at will, but were dumbfounded by Tendeck. While pinching in the zone, Vancouver was able to get the puck rushed up ice and in similar fashion to the third Giants goal. James Malm finished off the play with a shot to Cole Kehler’s left and the Giants led 4-1.
The Giants took a tripping penalty and on the ensuing powerplay, Keoni Texeira set up Brad Ginnell who instead passed the puck to Alex Overhardt, whose initial attempt appeared to be stopped by a sprawling Tendeck, only to find Overhardt still had the puck and banked a shot off of Tendeck’s skate to make it a two-goal game. The next ensuing rush by the Hawks was run by Brad Ginnell who found Joachim Blichfeld and he wired his shot past Tendeck to pull the Hawks within one. Less than twelve seconds later, Tyler Benson slid a pass to Ty Ronning, who simply directed the puck into the open net past Kehler to restore their two-goal lead. The Hawks pulled Kehler with just under two minutes left in the game and despite incredible pressure, were unable to get any more goals and fell 5-3 to the Giants. Portland outshot the Giants 46-38 and went 2 for 4 on the powerplay while blanking the Giants on their three powerplay chances.
The Hawks then headed south to face the Everett Silvertips, whose stingy goaltending in Carter Hart had given them a five-game winning streak. Hart was the recipient of the WHL Goaltender of the Week and has helped the Tips to wins in eight of their last ten games. The Hawks had a tough time adjusting to the Tips in the opening period but were able to escape with no goals to either side. The period became very physical, culminating in a fight between the Hawks’ Laynee Gilliss and Dawson Butt.
Things didn’t get easier in the second period as an early goal by Patrick Bajkov gave the Tips the lead. Cole Kehler received a rare delay of game penalty and the Tips capitalized with Jake Christiansen finishing off the play to put the Tips up by two. The physical play continued with yet another scrap featuring Reece Newkirk and Gianni Fairbrother which essentially eliminated them from most of the third period. Near the end of the period. Matt Fonteyne scored for Everett to give them a commanding lead.
The third period saw Bajkov score his second of the game just over five minutes in which sent Cole Kehler from the game and replaced by Shane Farkas. The physical game continued which included a battle between John Ludvig and Sean Richards which was far more explosive than the Gilliss / Butt fight, but was ruled only as roughing minors. Ludvig also received a minor for high sticking which the Hawks killed off. With just over a minute left in the game, Recce Newkirk was checked into the boards in the Everett zone, but found a way to get back to the puck from Brad Ginnell and lifted it lightly over the pad of Carter Hart to break the shutout. The continued bad blood carried into the final seconds of the game with a great of chirping back and forth between the players on the ice with both Jake Gricius and Luke Ormsby given misconducts to end the game. The Winterhawks goal was as of this writing, being credited to Joachim Blichfeld, but it appears he never touched the puck and a change should appear in an updated scoring summary.
The Hawks were outshot in every period, falling 45-29 and being shut out on both powerplays while giving up a goal on four Everett powerplays. The loss is the third straight for the Hawks, which ties with the longest losing streak of the year which incidentally came just prior to the Hawks extended winning string.
Portland comes home now to face the same two teams at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Friday and Saturday and hope for a far better result than the road showed them. The Saturday game will feature the annual Teddy Bear Toss where fans get to thrown stuffed animals and other plush toys onto the ice to be collected for many charities. The average of 10,000-15,000 stuffed toys is expected at the game which makes for an incredible sight.