This past weekend was to see the Portland Winterhawks play two games and host their annual season ticketholder party. However, Mother Nature had something to say about that. With the snow and freezing rain hitting the Portland metro area, events throughout were cancelled and postponed including that of the Portland Winterhawks. The team announced on the Friday prior that the season ticketholder meet and greet with the players and coaching staff was being postponed to a date in February owing to what was a concern for weather conditions still to come.
Just past the noon hour on Saturday, the Winterhawks announced a postponement of their game versus the Everett Silvertips and shortly thereafter announced that the Sunday game versus Kamloops, which had been scheduled at the Moda Center, was being moved to Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The reason for the change in venue would come just a couple of hours later when the Portland Trail Blazers announced a postponement of their basketball game versus Detroit Pistons scheduled from Saturday to Sunday to allow fans to attend.
It was late in the afternoon on Saturday that the Portland Winterhawks, in conjunction with the Western Hockey League, made the decision to postpone the Kamloops game as well, citing the freezing rain and treacherous traffic conditions. As it was, Kamloops was playing on Saturday night in Kelowna, BC, some 8 to 9 hours away and based on the weather and traffic conditions, would have found the travel to be worrisome to say the least.
The cause for caution may or may not have been related to the 40th anniversary of a horrific bus crash that took the lives of four players from the Swift Current Broncos and injuring 24 others on December 30, 1986 during very treacherous road conditions. That travel from Swift Current to Regina, Saskatchewan was done with heavy, blowing snow and a very icy highway where the bus veered out of control and flipped to its side, sliding several hundred feet and causing the worst incident in the history of the Western Hockey League.
All WHL teams are mandated to travel by bus during the regular season and playoffs except for the WHL Final, which may allow plane travel if both teams agree to split the costs associated with it. With travel in the tens of thousands of miles by motorcoach every year, the safety of everyone is of utmost concern and over the past several years, a handful of games have either been postponed by a day or two or made up later in the season and the Winterhawks, who have never encountered a single postponement, let alone two in the same week, will be scouring the schedule to locate dates where the games can be replaced.
Portland was busy with the games on hiatus with a pickup of an overage defenseman. Shaun Dosanjh, who began his career with the Vancouver Giants before being traded to the Prince George Cougars, ended up with the Kamloops Blazers and finally the Lethbridge Hurricanes, whom he played 12 games with before his move to Portland for a 9th round draft choice in the 2017 Bantam Draft. On the eve of trade deadline, Portland has made just two trades, one that saw Michael Bullion move to Medicine Hat and now Dosanjh. Portland had just one overage player on its roster with Keegan Iverson being the lone individual until the trade and teams may hold up the three overage players, though it’s doubtful an additional overage player will be added prior to close of the trade deadline.
The busiest team thus far leading to trade deadline has been the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who have made 5 separate deals in a span of just four days as they look to catch up the Central Division leading Medicine Hat Tigers and make a strong run in the playoffs. Their additions are expected to give them momentum as they playoffs start in just over two months.
The Portland Winterhawks will now focus on the current schedule with home games this coming weekend at Veterans Memorial Coliseum with back to back games versus the Spokane Chiefs. Portland will then embark on a four-game road trip with games in Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna which will be attended by a busload of Portland Winterhawks Booster Club members, followed by a two game road trip which means their next home games won’t be until February 1st .
With this weekend’s games at the Coliseum, the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club will conduct the Keeping Portland Warm Night over two nights, Friday and Saturday, where fans are asked to bring new or gently used blankets, coats, sweaters, gloves and other “warm” items to donate to the Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division in a makeup from this past weekend where games were postponed.
Fans can meet with Portland Winterhawks players at Burgerville locations in Gresham and the Convention Center on Wednesday from 6 to 7PM and at the Les Schwab location on SE 82nd on Monday, January 23rd from 4 to 6PM