This week, the Portland Winterhawks picked up a couple of victories as they faced the Seattle Thunderbirds, once on the road and once at home.
In Kent, WA, it was the Jaydon Dureau show as he gave the Thunderbirds fits every time he touched the puck. Just 22 seconds into the first period and while on a very early powerplay. Dureau finished off a play with pretty much every Hawk on the ice, save for the goaltender getting into the act.
After a scoreless second period, Dureau started off the third period early again and also on the powerplay just 59 seconds into the period.
Seattle got on the board finally with a goal by Jordan Gustafson on a penalty shot. It would be the only thing getting past Taylor Gauthier as less than a minute later and again on the powerplay, Dureau nabbed his third of the night, a natural hat trick.
Marcus Nguyen finished the scoring with a goal midway through the third period. Seattle took a penalty after pulling goaltender Thomas Milic and could not pull him again as the Hawks kept the puck down towards the Seattle zone, and the Hawks skated away with the 4-1 win. Seattle did outshoot Portland 34-27 but could not convert on their four chances, with Portland scoring three goals on five attempts. Despite Dureau’s three-goal output, he was only named the third star of the game. Reid Schaefer, who didn’t even figure in the scoring, was named second star, and the penalty shot goal by Gustafson was named first star.
To Portland, where the Hawks once again started Taylor Gauthier between the pipes against Thomas Milic for Seattle. After a scoreless first period, Portland scored first with a Cross Hanas goal very early in the second period. The game remained a 1-0 lead for Portland until very early in the third period, when Aiden Litke doubled the Hawks’ output.
Seattle again pulled Milic, but Tyson Kozak ended the night with an empty-net goal with one minute left in regulation. Portland outshot Seattle 26-20, and neither team capitalized on the powerplay, with Seattle having four tries, Portland with three.
With the two victories, Portland saw Taylor Gauthier snag the WHL Goaltender of the Week Honors for the third time since his arrival in Portland at the end of December. Gauthier’s 0.50 goals against average and a .986 save percentage earned the honor again. So far since the trade, Gauthier has an 18-3 record with a 1.74 GAA and a .943 save percentage. It’s no wonder Pittsburgh offered the twenty-year-old an ELC.
The CHL Poll came out with the Hawks falling again to tenth despite their two wins. Edmonton holds down the top spot with the Winnipeg ICE nipping at their heels. The Hamilton Bulldogs and Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL take the next two spots. Kamloops Blazers remain solidly in fifth, with Everett Silvertips right behind them. The poll sees Sherbrooke Phoenix, North Bay Battalion, and Saint Joh Sea Dogs ahead of the Hawks, who round out the poll. Honorable mentions go to Windsor Spitfires, Acadie-Bathurst Titan, and Quebec Ramparts.
Portland has limited time to catch up with just eight games left and sitting five points back of Everett for the top spot in the US Division, with Everett having a game in hand.
Upcoming games this weekend will see Everett and Portland tangle in Everett after Portland gets a home game against Tri-City.
It will be interesting to see how these games pan out. On Saturday at 6 pm, there will be a viewing party at Replays Sports Bar and Arcade 15700 NE Blueridge Drive in Beaverton, where fans can win prizes and cheer on the boys in this last scheduled regular season viewing party.
In other Hawks news, former Winterhawk Derrick Pouliot has been claimed off waivers by Seattle Kracken. Pouliot had been signed to a contract by Las Vegas Golden Knights to send him to the AHL, but to do so had to put him on waivers to do so. Seattle claimed him and has him on their roster ahead of the NHL trade deadline.