The Portland Winterhawks picked an excellent time to catch on fire as they finished an almost unheard-of 11 game homestand with a pair of wins against Spokane Chiefs with bookends by Everett. We had already discussed the shellacking of Everett with the start of the last column, so we shifted to Spokane, who has been trailing the Hawks for two wildcard spots.
It’s been an almost Achilles heel for the Hawks in giving up the first goal or more and then having to battle back. This was indeed the same for the Hawks, as they gave up the first one just over 12 minutes in when Spokane converted on the powerplay.
From there, Dante Giannuzzi shut the door on the Chiefs while in the net, making some critical saves the rest of the way. Spokane led 1-0 at the end of one. Two goals by the Hawks within the first seven minutes of the second period with Gabe Klassen on the powerplay, and then Aidan Litke gave the Hawks their first lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the game.
Just over a minute later, Jonah Bevington scored his first of the year, a goal that gave the Hawks a 3-1 lead heading into the locker room.
Dawson Pasternak scored 18 seconds into the third period to extend the lead and propelled the Hawks to a 4-1 win. The Hawks outshot Spokane 34-26, and both teams scored a powerplay goal on their combined nine tries.
The next evening, Spokane switched up netminders with Manny Panghli starting versus Dante Giannuzzi for Portland. Unlike the previous games, the Hawks struck first.
Robbie Fromm-Delorme opened the scoring with the Teddy Bear toss goal just over 7 minutes in, which saw 7531 plush hit the ice for various charities. Gabe Klassen, credited with a helper on the goal, got one three minutes later with an assist by Fromm-Delorme. The Hawks took a 2-0 lead after one.
Spokane’s powerplay was deadly in the one as Erik Atchison notched one. In fact, all three goals were powerplay markers, and all assisted on the plays by Bear Hughes. However, the Hawks, while not strong on special teams like the powerplay, were able to come up with magic on their own.
Jaydon Dureau and Cross Hanus scored within forty seconds of each other to extend the lead to 4-1 and chase Manny from the nets to be replaced by Mason Beaupit.
Luke Toporowski scored his first of two on the night but saw Clay Hanus put the Hawks up by three. Luke would score in the third period but would see the Chiefs fold as Cross Hanas scored just 48 seconds later with the Hawks’ only powerplay goal, and Clay Hanus would round out the scoring with the Hawks prevailing 7-3. Portland outshot Spokane 43-21 but gave Spokane three goals on five powerplays. Portland mustered one goal on six tries.
In an infrequent weeknight game, Portland faced off against Everett Silvertips, who would be minus a couple of crucial scorers to World Juniors for Canada. Unlike previous years, the Hawks were blanked on the World Junior stage this season.
The teams played a very tight first twenty minutes, with neither team getting on the board. The second period was a different story.
Opening the scoring was Gabe Klassen, who was in a mad scramble in front of the net. Aidan Litke couldn’t put his stick on it, but Klassen did, and the Hawks took their first lead.
Everett would pounce with three goals in just under three minutes. Niko Huutanen scored with three Hawks draped over the top of him, and Michal Gut would connect on a nifty backhander. Everett’s Jackson Berezowski somehow found the puck as Dante Giannuzzi was scrambling to save anything from being converted, and he added to the lead as Everett went up 3-1 at the end of two.
The third period belonged to the Hawks. Goals by James Stefan and Tyson Kozak just over two minutes apart in the middle of the frame put the Hawks on an even keel with Everett and sent the game to overtime. It appeared Jaydon Dureau had scored, but it was waved off. Just over thirty seconds later, Gabe Klassen banged one off the left post that was legitimate, and the Hawks picked up a 4-3 Overtime win.
The Hawks will play a pair of games in Spokane as they head for the Holiday break. Post-Christmas Portland will play a home and home series with Tri-City starting on the 28th and complete December with the annual Battle with Seattle on New Year’s Eve with a 5 pm start.
The US Priority Draft took place with the Hawks selecting two players. Garin Ludwig from Alaska and Adam Kleber from Minnesota both defensemen as their two selections.
The following day, Portland added 12 new prospects in the draft. Portland selected two goaltenders, eight forwards, and two more defensemen as they look to see them appear in camp. Luke Brunen started it off by being chosen in the second round. As a goaltender going that high, big things might be expected of him. Reid Varkonyi was drafted next as a forward. Cole Cairns as a forward and Alexander Thompson as a defenseman were next up. Hudson Darby, Carsen Dyck, and Nathan Free, all forwards, were selected next. In the eighth round, the Hawks selected Marek Schlenker as their other goaltender. The Hawks would choose Cohen Massey as the other defenseman before rounding off picks to forwards Liam Goertzen, Ben Miller, and Jamie Hikida.
Assistant to the General Manager and Head Scout Mike Coflin is looking forward to having these new players in camp for the upcoming 2022-23 season.