Well, the Hawks didn’t look strong in the preseason in their games, but like many said, wait until the regular season gets underway.
The first two games were on the road in the Okanagan, and a week later, the Hawks competed in their first home game.
In Kamloops to start the season, the Hawks faced off against a team that will host the Memorial Cup at the end of the season.
The Hawks were assessed five penalties which they killed off, and had just one which they converted on. Gabe Klassen led the way with a pair of goals, one on the powerplay just over a minute in, and Marcus Nguyen sandwiched one in the middle frame. Dante Giannuzzi took the shutout with 24 saves, and the Hawks won 3-0. The Hawks outshot Kamloops 38-24 and were 1 for 1 on the powerplay to Kamloops being shutout on five attempts.
Giannuzzi started the next night as the Hawks faced the Kelowna Rockets. In that game, things started early as Kelowna was seen with a player draped all over Gabe Klassen and hooking, preventing a shot that may have gone in. Klassen was awarded a penalty shot which he converted. Kelowna tied up the game seven minutes later.
Klassen got his second of the night early in the second period and gave the Hawks the lead. Kelowna popped in two to end the period and in the lead. They added another early in the third period on the powerplay to lead 4-2. Gabe Klassen popped in his third of the night to tighten the lead but was met with a Kelowna powerplay goal just over a minute later to restore the Rocket advantage.
Five minutes later, while shorthanded, Klassen bagged his fourth of the night, and Portland tied the game just under a minute later with Luke Schelter’s first of the year. The game was sent into overtime, where Luca Cagnoni capped off the Winterhawks’ comeback just under three minutes later. Portland led with 40-36 shots against the Rockets, while Kelowna went 2 for 6 on the powerplay and Portland went 0 for 2 on the man advantage.
With the two games, Klassen was awarded WHL Player of the Week with six goals as he leads the league and is surprisingly two points back of the scoring lead by phenom Connor Bedard but has played two more games than Klassen.
The rankings of the CHL came out with Portland listed as an honorable mention. Winnipeg Ice was listed as the top team and has so far won 4 straight, Quebec Remparts are listed second with Seattle third. Other teams are Guelph Storm, Kamloops Blazers, the host Memorial Cup team, and are currently 1-1 after a loss to Portland and a win over Spokane this week. The Gatineau Olympics, Flint Firebirds, Mississauga Steelhead, and Moose Jaw Warriors round out the top team. Owen Sound Halifax and Portland Winterhawks round out the Honorable mentions.
Portland came home with the home-opener against the Tri-City Americans. Jan Spunar took his place between the pipes as the fans saw him for the first time.
James Stefan returned from his NHL Camp stint from the LA Kings and scored his first, just halfway through the first. Tri-City tied the game just over 18 minutes in.
Luca Cagnoni blocked the puck in the Tri-City zone and fed to Gabe Klassen, who got his seventh of the year with less than two-tenths of a second period while on the powerplay.
Andrew Fan from Tri-City tied the game early in the second period, with the Hawks regaining the lead as Luke Schelter notched his second of the year. About four minutes later, Robbie Fromm-Delorme scored while on the powerplay to give the Hawks a 4-2 lead.
Tri-City took a timeout under three minutes of the third, and Nick Avakyan was relieved from his net with less than two minutes on the clock. The Americans took a penalty thirty seconds later, which put Avakyan back in the net and never got the shots they wanted as the Hawks prevailed 4-2 and have won three straight, Outshooting Tri-City 44-23 and scoring twice on four powerplay attempts to one goal on for chances for Tri-City.
The Hawks now wait for a week before a game at home against the Medicine Hat Tigers, an away game in Spokane a day later, and two days after that, another home game, this time against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club is now organizing a fan trip to Everett, with the deadline being Saturday, November 19. Information is at www.pwhbc.com.