It is hard to fathom we are three weeks away until the start of the regular season. The Portland Winterhawks took twenty forwards, ten defensemen and four goaltenders to Everett to have a look and see where cuts could be made. They will carry 18 skaters on the bench with two goaltenders and perhaps three spares to scratch due to injury, illness or just rotate the lineup. They will more than likely carry 27 or so to Tri-City. Among the missing will be Cody Glass, who was signed by Las Vegas last year. Though he is only 19, he still could play up to 9 games without losing contract eligibility. The other in Brenden DeJong, who was selected by Carolina, but is 20. However, he is expected back this year. The Hawks have just four overage players this year with DeJong, Conor Maceachern, Conor Barley, who played a handful of games, and Jared Freadrich, who they traded late at deadline for from Victoria. They must pare down to three by the middle of October.
Ones they will cut at just fifteen include goalie Loclan Gordon and forward Gabe Klassen, which will put them at 32. Ryan Hughes will be back after an ankle injury last in the playoffs, put him in a boot until late October. He and Glass will be the big scoring touch on the Hawks.
Shane Farkas started off with a full game against a regular squad for Spokane and had seven goals against to the one they scored, but a couple of the goals slid down the back of him, which can’t be faulted and a few defensive miscues. The team lost the first game 7-1 but had a great deal of positives come from the game.
Evan Fradetette scored in the second game, leading the Winterhawks to a 2-1 regulation win against the Tri-City Americans. The heir apparent, Fradette has some competition with Dante Guzzianni, a year younger than him.
The third game saw split duties as Danet Guzzianni shut the door on the period and a half with no goals, giving the way to Loclan Gordon, who had one goal in the second half of the period and two more in the third to give Everett Silvertips a 3-0 win. It should be noted that Everett iced a full regular roster in front of their home crowd where the Hawks took all their veterans off the ice and played all players that were “rookies”.
Othert scores from the tournament saw Tri-City pick up a 4-3 shootout win over the Tips and a penalty filled 4 -2 loss against the Vancouver Giants. The Giants also beat Spokane 3-2 and a 4-2 win against Seattle. Seattle won a 5-4 overtime win against the Tips. These games, like next week’s matches in Kennewick, mean little to fans as the regular season earns points, but they are a great chance for the coaching staff to confirm decisions on cuts and line creation. For the record, Vancouver won all three games, Portland went 1-2 Everett lost two overtime games and won one regulation game, Tri-City won one overtime game and lost two regulation games, Spokane won one regulation, lost one regulation and one overtime game. Seattle won one overtime game, lost one overtime game and lost a regulation game.
This was also the first year of two things in Everett. One was a new sponsor of the tournament, which is a great thing for the city and also the first time all of the games were broadcasted on web radio. The announcers carried all nine games on a web broadcast which was very clear. Hopefully it continues.
All teams except Vancouver will play in Kennewick next week which means Portland will play twice, Thursday and Friday, and then head home where they will make more cuts leading to Seattle on September 22. They will still carry a roster of more than 25 players in the first games of the regular season, so they can make adjustments. One spot is reserved for Ryan Hughes, who is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered last season and not ready to play for a couple of weeks.
Other scores from around the WHL saw Saskatoon pick up a 3-1 win over Swift Current. Many of the Central and Eastern Division teams will start this week in interleague games and the Vancouver tournament will start next weekend. Many teams will play up to a week before the regular season in individual matches, especially in the Eastern Division where travel is less extensive.
We will update the next round for you and identify placements to other Junior teams as the Hawks look to bring some exciting hockey back to the Rose City!