The Portland Winterhawks will end the month of February on the road as they finished off three games against US Division opponents.
The first game saw a rough first period, but they found their groove as they headed to a 5-3 win. After spotting the only two goals of the first period to Seattle, Portland scored the only goal of the second period with Seth Jarvis doing it while short-handed and the next four in the third with Reece Newkirk, Mason Mannek, Seth Jarvis and Cross Hanas lighting the lamp before Seattle got one back with three minutes left while on the powerplay as Seattle scored the only man-advantage goal in their five tries. Portland had three chances but was blanked on all. Portland peppered 54 shots to Seattle’s 22
The next night was again a tough one as they lost 3-2 with a 33-32 shots-on-goal advantage and being blanked on their one powerplay chance while giving up a goal to Seattle on their 4 chances. Dante Gianuzzi got a rare start for the Winterhawks and did his best to stem the tide. Portland started off well with Jonas Brodberg scoring just over a minute into the game, but a goal late in the first on the powerplay and a goal early in the second by the Thunderbirds kept the Hawks chasing. Portland’s Seth Jarvis added to his team-leading point total three minutes later. Seattle was able to capitalize less than four minutes in the game and took the lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish.
The game the next night at home against Everett was not good from start to finish as they handed the Tips a 6-2 win. Everett scored four straight goals, three in the first the last two on the powerplay and one in the second to take a commanding lead. Portland’s Kishaun Gervais and John Ludvig, which was a powerplay marker, would bookend the pair of Everett goals—the first of which was also on the powerplay—but Everett was full value. Portland did outshoot Everett 37-32, but the 3 for 5 on the powerplay to Portland’s 1 for 4 with the man advantage gave a strong exclamation to the Tips’ win.
Dustin Wolf, who led the Tips in the win was also named the WHL Goaltender of the week. With just three points separating the Winterhawks and Silvertips atop the US Division and now Portland tied with Edmonton for the overall WHL lead, the final games become even more crucial as they make the final push to the postseason after March 22.
Dropping one spot in the CHL poll this week, the Hawks dropped to the number four seed. There was a bit of jostling in the rest of the pack with a few teams slipping a spot or two last week. Everett moved up a spot and now it features Portland, Edmonton and Everett as the top WHL teams in the poll. Sherbrooke and Ottawa swapped places atop the poll.
Here are the latest rankings of the CHL.
(1) Sherbrooke Phoenix, (2) Ottawa 67’s, (3) Moncton Wildcats, (4) Portland Winterhawks, (5) Edmonton Oil Kings, (6) Everett Silvertips, (7) Chicoutimi Sagueneens, (8) London Knights, (9) Kitchener Rangers, and (10) Flint Firebirds, with honourable mention to the Cape Breton Eagles, Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Saginaw Spirit.
It’s only been done by one other team and that was 1993-94 Laval Titan, who made a coaching change as they were in the Memorial Cup tournament with so few games left in the season, but Kelowna Rockets made the decision to relieve Adam Foote from the coaching duties of the Kelowna Rockets. Foote is the father of Kelowna Rockets captain Nathan Foote.
As the host of the Memorial Cup this year, a switch was made last season to jumpstart the Rockets in preparation. During training camp, few changes were made and nothing at the trade deadline. The confusing situation was compounded with a lackluster season in which they are barely at .500. With that, the Rockets are holding onto a wildcard spot and appear to be looking at something in the postseason, though it appears they will have a tall order against the top team in the BC Division, the Kamloops Blazers who have had the Rockets’ number in the season series thus far. We have to go back to 2013 with the Saskatoon Blades, who were the Memorial Cup hosts and were dumped by the Red Deer Rebels in round one and then showed poorly in the Cup as the last team to be in this position. Assistant Coach Kris Mallette took over as the Head Coach and will have his hands full in the final 13 games of the regular season. The Rockets are six back of the Vancouver Giants in the BC Division, which puts them in Wildcard contention. Neither Prince George Cougars nor Tri-City Americans look to make postseason play, so Kelowna can limp in.
Ice Chips: The final Meet and Greet at Les Schwab will take place on Tuesday, March 10. The location on Burnside in Gresham and Canyon Road in Beaverton will complete the Meet and Greets this season. This coming Wednesday will be the NHL Black History Month museum stop at the Rose Quarter. The museum will feature several former and current black Winterhawks and is free to the public. The museum will be open from 2-7pm.