Portland Winterhawks Pick Up 5 Of 6 Points After Christmas And So Far, A Perfect Run On The Swing

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The Tri City Americans seem to have the Portland Winterhawks’ number as they once again took a victory in overtime against the Hawks, the third time in as many games as they headed from the swing. The Americans win 3-2  under a couple minutes into overtime, but not without controversy. As Joachim Blichfeld was retrieving the puck from behind his own net, he was tripped up and Tri City capitalized on the play with a goal. Though the crowd heavily protested and so did the Hawks on the ice, it was not overturned and the Hawks settled once again for the “loser point.”

The anger went up the I-5 to Kent, Wash., as the Hawks looked to a home-and-home series with Seattle. The Hawks roared to a 3-0 first period run only to see the teams tied at 5 at the end of the second period. A pair of goals early in the third stretched the Hawks to a 7-5 lead. With a minute to play and a power play, Zack Andrusiak scored his fourth of the game and chipped into the Hawks’ lead. The Hawks scored with 30 seconds left to extend the lead back to two and a win. The final was 8-6 as Seattle outshot Portland 40-36 and both teams went 2 for 4 on the powerplay.

Monday was New Year’s Eve as the Hawks looked to  expand the lead in the very crowded US Division. The Hawks won 6-3, Seattle started midway through the first; however, Ryan Hughes erased that with a power play marker two minutes later. Seattle scored twice within five minutes to take a 3-1 lead at the end of the first. It was was the Hawks, with five straight goals, that capped the night for them. Joachim Blichfeld scored less than a minute into the second period and added another five minutes later to tie the game. Michael Kvasnica—and then Jared Freadrich on the power play—put the Hawks in the lead for the first time. Midway through the third period, Seth Jarvis built the lead to three and a win for the Hawks, who kept both Spokane and Tri Cities back of them as they fight to hang on to second place. The Hawks outshot Seattle 46-36 and went 4-for-6 on the power play and gave Seattle one goal on 7 attempts with the man advantage.

The Hawks then headed from the Swing. They started in Swift Current, where the Broncos were suffering on only 7 wins thus far and the Hawks started with a 3-2 lead in the first period all due to breakaways for the Hawks. Lane Gillis started it off fo the Hawks, but the Broncos tied it midway though the first. Joachim Blichfeld and Michael Kvasnica scored for the Hawks less than three minutes apart near the end of the first to give the away team what appeared to be a commanding lead. Joel Hofer in the net for Swift Current faced 48 shots to just 23 for the Broncos on Shane Farkas. The Broncos added their second just a minute later after Kvasnica’s goal and the teams went to the locker room with the Hawks leading 3-2. The Broncos scored the only goal of the second, early in and the Broncos gave it everything they had. The Hawks regrouped in the third period as Jaydon Dureau scored seven minutes in and after Swift Current pulled their goaltender Jake Gricius added an empty-net goal to seal if for the Hawks. Both teams were scoreless on the power play and the Hawks had to fight hard for the 5-3 win.

The next night they were in Moose Jaw playing top-rated CHL team Prince Albert Raiders that had just knocked off the Prince Albert Raiders one day before. Against the Hawks they were no match. In the first period, the Hawks once again roared out to a lead, this time 4-0. Reece Newkirk started less than four minutes in and saw Jake Gricius, Lane Gilliss and Clay Hanus add markers to give the Hawks a commanding lead. Adam Evanoff gave way to Brodan Salmond in the Moose Jaw nets, but a mix up with Seth Jarvis added the Hawks fifth goal just 18 seconds into the second. The Hawks added a marker by Joachim Blichfeld early in the third to take the game and a shutout for Shane Farkas 6-0. Nick Cicek was the star of the last two games with six assists in two games  and the Hawks had the edge in shots 39-23 and once again were shut out on the powerplay while keeping the opponent goose egged again.

Seattle with the two losses this week, appears to be selling in the US Division. After scoring six against the Hawks in a pair of games, Zack Andrusiak was shipped up the I-5 to Everett for Sean Richards, prospect Brendan Williams a second round in 2019, third round in 2020 and conditional in 2024. Later, Liam Hughes and an eighth round in 2019 sent to Lethbridge for Keltie Jeri-Leon, Michael Huron and a fourth round in 2019. The Hawks dipped their toe in the water with the acquisition of USA Junior Bobby Brink from the Prince George Cougars for a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft with a conditional second or fourth round pick in 2021 depending if he signs or not. He will continue with his team this year and has committed to a university in 2019, but the recruiting team of the Hawks may just spin their magic again. Overall it has been quiet on the trade front in the WHL with the new rules in place on trade ages, but then again several teams think they have a shot at the WHL Title.

With the start of the New Year, they added Evan Fradette to the roster as well. Fradette, who gave way to Giannuzzi as the backup at the start of the season, now makes three goaltenders, which Mike Johnston has previously stated will not happen. He was also vocal near the start of the season that Dante wasn’t ready for the WHL. But his numbers appear strong. It will be interesting as the clock ticks toward to trade deadline as to what two goaltenders will go forward. Fradette was not dressed either night for Portland, who now plays Brandon and Regina midweek, before the two big battles on the weekend against Prince Albert and then Saskatoon to end the swing. Overall there hasn’t been a major blockbuster with lots of picks traded and players moving this year.  Still, with a few days left until the deadline, one can never say never.

Ice Chips:

Dean Scooter Vrooman will run a viewing party Saturday, January 12 when the action goes to Oregon City Ice House 1200 Main Street with a game against Saskatoon as they finish the swing. There will be  a week to go before they play the first home game on the 19th. The Booster Club has already sold out the next swing in 2020 with a waiting list as well. One final trip is planned to Everett on Saturday, February 9 and there are a few seats available for that trip up a couple of upcoming games.

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About Stuart Kemp 343 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.