It's almost old hat: Winterhawks play, Winterhawks win. For seventeen straight games, that's what Winterhawks broadcaster Todd Vrooman has said and there seems to be no signs of letting up. The Hawks finished their road trip this past weekend with a pair of 7-4 wins over last place Kamloops Blazers and sixth place Vancouver Giants. During that weekend clash, Nic Petan overtook Mitch Holmberg of the Spokane Chiefs for the scoring lead. Holmberg caught up with Petan with the Chiefs win over Everett on Sunday, but Petan took back the lead with the game against Prince George on Tuesday night.
With Brendan Burke on the shelf with the flu, it was left up to recently acquired netminder Corbin Boes to shut the door on the opposition. The four game road trip this past week saw the Hawks give up four goals each night after they opened up big leads. While it might work against lesser teams, the playoff are on the horizon and defense is often the key to victory. Boes has won seven straight starts since his debut in a shootout loss to Victoria in early January.
Tuesday night the Winterhawks faced off against Prince George for the final time during the regular season. It started off very physical, a tone the Cougars set to force the high speed Winterhawks off their game. The scoring started with Todd Fiddler of the Cougars cashing in on a power play which gave the Cougars their only lead of the game. Oliver Bjorkstrand would pocket a goal with just eleven seconds left in the first period on the power play to knot the game.
The second period ended the way of the first with the Hawks Derrick Pouliot converting a power play chance with just four sends left in the period. The third period was just as rough as the first, with the game seeing a total of 92 minutes of infractions called and the Winterhawks weathering the storm. The Hawks would add three goals, Keegan Iverson early in the period, Pouliot with his second power play goal of the game and a quirky goal by Tyson Predinchuk which was shot at an odd angle and bounced off netminder Ty Edmonds’ pad into the net.
The Winterhawks won the game 5-1 and extended their winning streak to 17 games. If the Winterhawks get wins in the two games this weekend against the Kamloops Blazers and Prince Albert Raiders, the Winterhawks will tie their all-time unbeaten streak of 19, which they set in 2011-12.
Nic Petan tied yet another Winterhawks record with 2 assists in the game. With a league leading 70 assists, Petan ties Todd Robinson as the only two players to reach that number of assists in consecutive seasons. Robinson did it from 1996-98.
The Winterhawks are within five points of WHL leaders Kelowna Rockets, but the Rockets have two games in hand. The Hawks have also extended their US Division lead to twelve points over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Their magic number is six, a combination of Portland wins and Seattle losses will give the Hawks their latest US Division title.
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, a 501(c)(3) registered charity