Leading into last weekend, the Portland Winterhawks picked up win number 21 versus Spokane with a 2-0 win over the Chiefs, but ran into a roadblock against the Seattle Thunderbirds the following night. The streak ended with a 4-1 loss in what might be thought as an uninspired performance. Corbin Boes would suffer his first regulation loss since joining the Winterhawks. With the streak now over, the Hawks would look to one more road game before heading back home for the last three of four games at home.
On Wednesday, the Tri City Americans felt the wrath of the Hawks in Kennewick, WA. The Hawks skated away with a 5-1 victory over the Americans, but had considerably more chances to pad that total. With that, the Hawks returned home and a return date with the Seattle Thunderbirds. With the win, the Winterhawks took the US Division championship for the third time in four years.
The Hawks started off with the lead as Chase DeLeo opened the scoring. Seattle would tie the game midway through the first period, but the Hawks would add two more goals to end the period and enjoy a 3-1 lead. Early in the second period, Seattle would add a goal on the power play and the Hawks started to run into penalty trouble. The revolving door penalty box meant goaltender Corbin Boes would have to come up big with save after save. It was during one of those saves that Boes overstretched and had difficulty getting up. Two minutes later, on another Seattle rush, the Thunderbirds tied the game and Boes had even more trouble getting up from the ice. Trainer Rich Campbell had seen enough and pulled Boes from the game. With Brendan Burke still suffering illness, the Hawks went to third goaltender Adin Hill. Hill, whose last game with the Hawks was back in January, found himself in the thick of things, but settled down very quickly. He didn't allow a single goal on the eleven shots he faced and the Hawks fired off the next four goals for a bit of revenge, a 7-3 victory.
There would be no rest for the squad as they took on the Vancouver Giants the next evening. Adin Hill was called into service again with Brendan Burke on the bench as the emergency backup. Hill stood tall, allowing one goal on nearly thirty shots as the Hawks beat Vancouver 4-1 in what seems to be the match for the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks took their 50th win of the regular season, a total they have hit three times in the past five years and cemented their spot as the second place team in the Western Conference.
The Hawks will play Tri City at home Tuesday, before a three game in three night stand with Seattle back-to-back and end the regular season with a Sunday game versus Everett. Playoff games will start Friday and Saturday March 21 and 22 at the Moda Center.
Ice Chips : During the weekend games, the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club organized a get well signing for Kootenay Ice player Tim Bozon who contracted meningitis and is currently in critical condition in a medically induced coma in a Saskatoon, Canada hospital. Over 16 pages were signed as part of a get well card that is being sent this week. Several other WHL clubs organized similar efforts.
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.