Portland Winterhawks News And Notes – Small Trade, 2023-2024 Schedule Release, And More

The Portland Winterhawks are just over a month from starting training camp and have made a minor trade to shore themselves up between the pipes. For a sixth-round pick in 2026 to Moose Jaw Warriors, the Hawks get 19-year-old goaltender Justen Maric. Maric has played 4 WHL games with Red Deer Rebels (with whom he was selected in the 2016 Bantam Draft) and Moose Jaw Warriors and 17 games with the SJHL Battlefords All-Stars, where he led them to the SJHL Championship at 16-1 and a .934 save percentage. 

He is expected to be part of the Neely Cup tournament in August. He pads the Hawks’ goaltending needs due to uncertainty surrounding Jan Spunar. Spunar is also 19 but a European player. Under the NHL collective bargaining agreement, European players may be eligible to be out in the farm system at 19, where North American players can only go at age 20. Though Spunar wasn’t drafted, he was in the top ten eligible goaltenders at the time of the draft and may receive offers to attend NHL camps. The addition of Maric gives them stability until the situation with Spunar is resolved. Spunar attended Edmonton Oilers camp last year and was assigned back to Portland, 

On the goaltending front, Andy Moog, who made his mark as a top-notch netminder in the NHL, retired after seven years as goaltending coach for the Hawks. Immediately assuming the position is Brendan Burke. Burke, who the Arizona Coyotes originally drafted, became a goaltending coach for the Junior Division of the Coyotes. He supplemented this as a goaltending coach for the Hawks. Now he is the man running the show, and maybe for quite some time due to his youth. 

The Hawks also saw two players drafted in the recent NHL Draft. Luca Cagnoni in round four 123rd to San Jose Sharks and Carter Southern by the Philadelphia Flyers at 135. NHL Camps have begun with Cagnoni and Southern attending along with Marek Alscher in Florida and Chaz Luscius to Winnipeg, where he is expected to stay at least in the farm system. 

Ryan McCleary, originally but not signed by Pittsburgh, will now head to the Rangers in New York. Ryder Thompson will attend the Arizona camp, while Robbie Fromm-Delorme was invited to head to Las Vegas. 

Clayton Johns, who took over the equipment positions for Mark “Peaches” Brennan, is off to be part of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Chechia and  Slovakia as part of Team Canada. Johns, who came from the OHL Barrie Colts, was also involved with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

The WHL released the 2023-24 schedule, which will feature six US Division teams for the first time. With Winnipeg ICE being moved to Wenatchee to become the Wild, the schedule is a bit unbalanced, with all teams being unable to play on the same night unless a US team is on a swing. Will the schedule be a bit more balanced next season in games? 

The Hawks also are in preseason mode with five games on the road. The Hawks will play in Everett for the Holiday Tournament starting September 9 vs. Spokane and then the following day against Seattle. On Thursday, September 14, they will play in Spokane, followed by a game in Kennewick, Washington, against Tri-City and then Spokane. 

The Hawks will open on the road with their first look at Wenatchee on September 23, followed by Kelowna the day after. One week later, they play in Kent versus Seattle Thunderbirds. 

The Hawks will play their opening night game against Everett on October 6. Other notable events include the Central Swing from Friday, October 27, to Saturday, November 4.  

Event nights announced include Saturday, December vs. Seattle for Teddy Bear Toss; Sunday, December 31, New Year’s Eve vs. Vancouver; Monday, January 15 at 2pm versus Kamloops; and Mascot Night on Saturday, February 17, vs Vancouver. 

Fifty-four games are being played Friday through Sunday. Monday is home, and Tuesday games, of which there are two, one at home versus Everett and Spokane on the road in March. Ten games are played on Wednesdays, with five at home and five on the road. 

The Hawks will be releasing more specialty nights in the coming months. All home games will start at 7pm, with Saturdays at 6pm and Sundays at 5pm, except on Monday, January 15, which begins at 2. 

In the coming days, it will be interesting to see how the Hawks will look at reducing the overage players to 3 from 5 and announcements of other specialty nights, including Hockey is For Everyone and more.

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About Stuart Kemp 323 Articles
Stuart Kemp is the Immediate Past President of 15 years of the Booster Club. and has been following hockey from his native Canada since he can remember, though he can't skate, but played road hockey for several years. Loving hockey and professional wrestling, he has traveled to most of the WHL cities and with wrestling, has seen four provinces and five states. It is true that every Canadian city with more than 500 residents has a hockey rink, well at least it looks that way. Stuart has had his hand in every facet of independent Professional wrestling as he debuted as an announcer in 1986 which started his career.