Over the past week, the Portland Winterhawks have solidified their second-place standing in the US Division and 3rd place in the Western Conference.
They faced Spokane on the road, followed by Tri-City, and secured 3 of 4 points.
In Spokane, Portland picked up the first goal 4 minutes into the game by Carter Southern, and that lead would hold through the period.
Spokane would tie it up in the second period four minutes in and then take the lead at the midway point of the period. Portland’s Robbie Fromm-Delorme started a four-goal straight run for the Hawks as he tied the game just past the 16-minute mark of the second frame.
The third period was all Hawks as they went full tilt, scoring three times in four minutes with Josh Zareski, Fromm-Delorme’s 2nd of the night on the powerplay, and an empty net goal just over forty seconds later to seal the game. Spokane outshot Portland 32-22, and Portland scored the only powerplay goal on three tries and blanked Spokane on their four attempts.
The following night, the Hawks headed to Kennewick to face the Tri-City Americans, a possible first-round opponent.
Tri City opened up the scoring in the first period and added a goal with two minutes remaining in the second to put the Hawks on the ropes.
A shorthanded marker by Marcus Nguyen just past the middle of the third seemed to be the spark needed. Lukje Schelter tied things up with just over five minutes left in regulation.
Things took an odd turn in overtime. Tri City thought they had scored, but then there was a long referee discussion as both teams left the ice. The goal itself was disallowed, but Tri-City was awarded a penalty shot as it was claimed that a Winterhawk had closed a hand on the puck, which warrants an automatic penalty shot.
Tri City made good on the penalty shot in overtime and took the game 3-2.
Portland blasted 49 shots to 34 for Tri-City, and Portland went 0-5 on the powerplay with Tri-City 1-4.
The rankings came out this week with QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympics taking the top spot, relegating Seattle and Winnipeg to spots 2 and 3 even though they hold better records and over 50 wins apiece. Only Kamloops Blazers at spot 8 were in the poll. Saskatoon Blades were rated an honorable mention.
Portland returned home with a return battle versus Spokane Chiefs. Portland started early with a goal by Luca Cagnoni just 38 seconds into the contest. Spokane’s Berkly Catton tied things up just before the period’s midway point. Luke Schelter scored two minutes later to break the tie. Marcus Nuguyen scored with three minutes left in the period, with Luca Cagnoni getting his second of the night with just over a minute left in the period to put the Hawks up 4-1 and give all in attendance a Jumbo Jack coupon for four goals.
Portland added to their total with James Stefan on the powerplay just before the midway point of the second. Josh Zareski, also on the powerplay, piled it on for the Hawks with a couple of minutes in the period, putting the Hawks up 6-1.
The third period was very Fiesta. It had been testy in the first period and ramped up in the second. By the third, it was all out nasty, with fighting majors galore. Spokane notched one late in the third, but it was too late as Portland walked away 6 to 2.
Portland ended the night 2 for 4 on the powerplay while shutting off Spokane on their six attempts. Portland bombarded the Chiefs with 48 shots Spokane’s way while the Chiefs pulled up 33 of their own.
Next up for the Hawks at home is the Hall of Fame game, where they will retire the 21 of Cam Neely with several players attending from the 83 Memorial Cup team. This takes place on March 18 and will also air on CW 32.
The Hawks will play the night before in Seattle, and they will sandwich a game against Vancouver which is also looking to solidify its playoff position before another double header versus Seattle to end the regular season on March 24 at home to showcase the awards and 25th in Kent to air on CW 32.
The Hawks announced the playoffs would start at home Friday and Saturday, March 31, and April 1 at the VMC. The opponent will be determined in the next couple of games.