The weather heading to Victoria was rough on the water, snow, ice and high winds plagued travel for many, but on the ice sheet, those things were forgotten about.
It started as a battle of Winterhawk vs former Winterhawk as Joel Hofer took the start for the Hawks against Shane Farkas, who was traded in the offseason by Portland to Victoria, and with that, they both brought their best to the rink.
Reece Newkirk scored the game’s only powerplay goal just past the fifteen-minute mark of the first period. That would hold up until past the midway point of the third, when the Royals tied it up. Ther Hawks erred on a transition in overtime to allow Victoria the game-winning goal almost two minutes in, but Portland salvaged a point as they passed regulation. Portland outshot Victoria 43-31 and went 1 of 4 on the powerplay while holding Victoria to no goals on three attempts. Though the shots favored Portland, Victoria had the better chances throughout the game. The overtime goal gained a great deal of controversy as it appeared the Royals player had caused goaltender interference by leaving his feet and crashing into Hofer. The puck bounced on a corner where it went sailing in the net. Despite a hoard of protests from the Winterhawks goaltender and bench, the goal stood and the Hawks left with no resolve.
The next night Hofer again was between the pipes as Victoria elected to use newly acquired Adam Evanoff from Moose Jaw to get a feel for his new team. Just two minutes in, Victoria scored its first and the first on three on four chances at the powerplay. Portland responded three minutes later with the first of three from Jaydon Dureau but saw Victoria take the lead again with one of only two goals with the teams five aside. Portland’s Jaydon Dureau notched his second of the game early in the second period and saw Jake Gricius bang home a goal just three minutes later. Victoria would collect two goals of their own following the Gricius goal as they would take the lead. Jack O’Brien would score just twenty seconds later to knot the game again and send it to the third period. Victoria would score early in the third period and it wasn’t until a late powerplay just past the sixteen-minute mark that Seth Jarvis would tie the game again and send it to overtime again. This time it was Jaydon Dureau with the hat-ttrick goal. The Hawks picked up a 6-5 overtime game and in doing so, split the games with the Royals.
The trip back was harrowing. With ferry cancellations all over the place, the Hawks’ bus was able to get the last boat out, prior to the shutdown. Ferries were limited to two in the morning on Sunday and then shut down. With Blackball Ferry in drydock and the passenger ferry Clipper running and early sailing, there was simply no way off Vancouver Island. There was limited service Monday with a major crash in Tsawwassen near the Terminal, which delayed many people for a great deal of time. The Booster Club and several other fans were stuck on Vancouver Island for a period of time.
Fans were able to make it to the next game as the Hawks faced Regina Pats. The Pats have struggled on the US Swing; well, they have all season having won only 13 games out of 41 thus far, but gained a surprise win in Everett. The Hawks were looking to take it out on the Pats and would do so in great fashion. Not even 17 minutes had elapsed in the first period when the Hawks rattled off five goals. Robbie Fromm-Delorme scored just 36 seconds in and that would hold for several minutes. The Hawks scored four more times in an eight-minute span as John Ludvig, Kishaun Gervais, Cross Hanas and Lane Gilliss added markers. Regina would get one back near the end of the first period and add another just past the eight-minute mark of the second period. Gabe Klassen would respond to that just over a minute later and Regina would add another during the second period. The Hawks hadn’t stepped off the gas yet as two more goals were added, the second of the night for Cross Hanas and Reece Newkirk would convert a powerplay opportunity. James Stefan would close out the Hawks scoring midway through the third, and Regina would add a token goal on the powerplay just past the 12-minute mark. Portland went one for three on the powerplay and Regina hit once on four tries. The shot total was very close as Portland edged the shots on goal 38-37.
The Hawks will now play three games in as many nights with a trip to Spokane and a pair at home against the Memorial Cup host team Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets made few moves at Trade Deadline as they hope to stave off the Vancouver Giants and Seattle Thunderbirds in the wildcard race. Currently, Kelowna holds down third spot in the BC Division with just seven points between them and the Giants and eight points from being out of the race altogether.
The CHL Rankings came out and still has Portland in third spot.
Ottawa still holds onto top spot, with Everett sliding down to eighth and a resurging Kamloops team vaulting ahead of the Tips. Edmonton still hangs in there as the teams look to the rush to the playoffs. Here are the current rankings this week: (1) Ottawa 67’s, (2) Sherbrooke Phoenix, (3) Portland Winterhawks, (4) Chicoutimi Sagueneens, (5) Edmonton Oil Kings, (6) Moncton Wildcats, (7) Kamloops Blazers, (8) Everett Silvertips, (9) Windsor Spitfires, and (10) Peterborough Petes, with honorable mention to the Kitchener Rangers, Saginaw Spirit, and Medicine Hat Tigers.
Portland also has the most number of skaters in the NHL Central Scouting North American ranks. Seth Jarvis is a strong candidate at 19th, Simon Knak (61 ), Cross Hanas (65 ), Jonas Brøndberg (107 ) and Robbie Fromm-Delorme (165 ) round out the Winterhawks on the January rankings. It will be interesting in the next month and a half to see how the rankings will go and who will be drafted in the first round.