Portland made a statement last week when the thrashed Tri-City Americans 6-0 and followed it up with a 7-3 drubbing of the Spokane Chiefs. No one really expected the Hawks to continue not only their winning ways but a shutout and mauling at the same time. With just one home game before a road trip that will see three more straight games against the Spokane Chiefs, before a game to break things up against Tri-City Americans, and finally a pair of home games against Seattle Thunderbirds, and yet another battle against Spokane.
In the midst of all of this, the lone home game was a matchup against Spokane. The Veterans Memorial Coliseum saw another sparse crowd, but the ones who attended would get full bellies before the end of the first period.
If the Winterhawks scored four or more goals in the game, the fans would receive a Jack in the Box coupon for a free Jumbo Jack with the purchase of a large drink. The players must have thought the fans were hungry. Just over halfway through the first period, the Hawks had scored four goals.
Starting with a James Stefan shot out in front of the faceoff to put the boys in their third jersey, all black in front. Just under eight minutes later, Marcus Nguyen kept his own pass on a breakaway to put the Hawks up by 2; Josh Mori got into the act with his first WHL goal after he snuck a puck to Manny Panghli’s short pad side. Eighteen seconds later, Clay Hanus fired a rocket to Manny’s right side to elevate the score to four, and the rout was on. Jaydon Dureau got into the act by once again receiving a pass and having an open net to shoot at to give Portland Winterhawks a 5-0 lead.
Luke Schelter added to the Chief’s misery as he took the puck off the faceoff and shot in the rubber on the other side of the net. Tyson Kozak then took a deflection off a Cross Hanas initial shot to score again for the Hawks, who were up 7-0.
Cooper Michaluk came on in relief but fared no better as the Hawks scored a few minutes later again by Kozak. Josh Mori had brought the puck in the zone, over-skated it, but the trailing Kozak found it and buried it past Michaluk. Less than two minutes later, Kyle Chykowski recovered his rebound to push the puck through the short side and scored.
The 56-19 shots showed how lopsided the game was and the frustration by the Chiefs resulted in them giving nine powerplays and the Hawks capitalizing on two. Spokane was 0-4 on a chippy affair after the game had gotten out of reach. The now 16-0-0-1 Winterhawks celebrated the longest steak of not being scored upon. Taylor Gauthier, who has yet to lose a game since being traded to Portland, has now gone three straight full games without giving up a goal. The record, held by Brendan Burke, has been shattered by nearly 40 minutes, and there seems to be no end in sight. Taylor Gauthier is now less than thirty minutes from holding the record for shutout hockey, dating back to the 1967-68 Flin Flon Bombers in Chris Worthy.
The Hawks will now travel, as mentioned, to Spokane for the next three games, where in the last game, they won 7-3 with Dante Giannuzzi between the pipes.
The Chiefs made a coaching change following the loss to Portland. Gone is Adam Maglio, with assistant coach Ryan Smith taking over for the foreseeable future. The last place Chiefs also moved up Assistant coach Dustin Donaghy who will now take a full-time role.
As thought, the Portland Winterhawks remain in the fifth spot in the latest CHL poll. Winnipeg Ice remains atop the standings, with the most significant drop being the Edmonton Oil Kings, who slipped to fourth. Everett stays in second place. Kamloops Blazers move up to the sixth spot with an honorable mention to the Moose Jaw Warriors, who picked up a mention.
The Community skates continue with postgame skates Sunday, February 20 versus Spokane and Friday, February 25, where people can watch part of the Prince George Cougars game on the screen. The hour-plus long sessions will be free with your ticket. Skates will be brought in to rent for $20. You can either book them in advance through the skating center or at the game itself. There is also a mentioned skating event to take place in March.