The Portland Winterhawks found the road wasn’t as forgiving as they played the last two games of the swing in Moose Jaw and Regina, Saskatchewan.
Roads have been decent this trip, a far cry from a couple of weeks back when things were almost at a standstill with heavy doses of freezing rain and snow. It was learned that as the Booster Club left Regina, the Trans-Canada Highway between Regina and Brandon had been shut down due to icy conditions on Saturday.
In Moose Jaw at the Mosaic Place, the Hawks faced a Warriors team in the thick of things as they competed for a playoff spot in the Eastern Division.
Portland scored first with James Stefan with his 14th of the year near the midway mark of the first period. Moose Jaw tied it up six minutes later and took the lead midway through the second frame. Portland’s Jack O’Brien scored six and a half minutes into the third, only to see Moose Jaw take the lead with under two minutes left in the game. The Hawks pulled the goaltender, only to see an empty net goal against them to seal the win for the Warriors.
The Warriors won 4 to 2 as they got outshot by Portland 44-32, and on powerplays, Portland went 1 for 3 and Moose Jaw 1 for 1.
The following day the Hawks faced the Regina Pats. Connor Bedard, the big speculation at the trade deadline, didn’t get moved and showed why he has almost 50 goals in the WHL campaign.
The Hawks and Pats traded goals throughout the game as the Pats opened the scoring just over four minutes in. Portland’s Robbie Fromm-Delorme scored on the powerplay just over four minutes later, and then Diego Buttazoni, early in the second, put the Hawks up. Five minutes later, Regina tied it up again. Connor Bedard showed why the people are talking about him by stealing the puck in the Hawks zone and scoring. Near the end of the period, Gabe Klassen scored to put the Hawks on an even keel. Regina got their fourth goal when Bedard stormed away on a breakaway to put the Pats up again.
With 1:45 left in the game, the Hawks pulled goaltender Dante Giannuzzi and put tremendous pressure in the Regina zone. With 17 seconds left, they appeared to have scored to tie the game. The first referee signaled a goal while the other waved off the tying marker. After a several-minute conference with all officials, the goal was waved off, which sent Mike Johnson into a frenzy. This continued post-game. The goal disallowed was claimed to be goaltender interference which was not announced at the game. Both visitors and home announcers thought it was good, which ended the night on a sour note. Try as they might, they couldn’t tie it up with the remaining time. Regina outshot Portland 38-32, with the Hawks going 1 for 5 on the man advantage and Regina at 1 for 2.
The players left following dinner towards Fernie, BC, and a driver change as they headed back to Portland.
The Booster Club members who traveled to all six games in ten nights left Sunday after a city tour and flew home. They encountered a couple of exciting moments when the flight from Regina was delayed, and the people had to scramble to get the connecting flight which was thankfully held, getting the people back to Portland about thirty minutes after their scheduled arrival.
The Hawks stay within three points of Seattle, who also went 2 and 4 on the swing, as both teams have played 39 games.
Next up for the Hawks are three games in four nights, starting with a dress-up like Where’s Waldo on Friday, a home game Saturday, and a Hookey for Hawkey on Monday with an unusual noon start.