This season saw some tough sledding. The Eastern Swing, with six games, saw the Portland Winterhawks go 2 and 4 and then came back to some rough and tumble games as they had some solid home games but some tough times on the road.
The Winterhawks had seven games for traveling on and started things off with a tough loss at home, losing to Seattle.
They then had to travel with a shot in Spokane, headed to Kelowna, then to Prince George for a pair of games, followed by a return event in Spokane and a trip to Seattle. They will finish the trip with a week off by heading to Everett, will face at-home games against Seattle, and then Spokane to finish off the week.
After dropping a 3 to 0 decision to Seattle, a game featured on TV and the first time all marksmen were in the Seattle lineup, following the trade deadline.
Things hit the skids in Spokane, where they dropped a 6 to 2 drubbing to Spokane. Unable to rest, they headed to Kelowna, where they fell a 3 to 1 game to the Rockets. In that game, Portland could fire 46 shots on Kelowna’s Taryn Boyko, where only 15 came the Hawks’ way.
They then headed to Prince George. With a special Monday afternoon game, the Hawks played tight through 60 minutes of regulation being scoreless. The game held the same through overtime, and it took seven rounds to finally break the tie, with the Cougars scoring the 1 to 0 shootout win. The following day, Prince George broke a deadlock in the second period and went on to a 3 -1 win.
The Hawks headed back down to Spokane and still couldn’t solve them, dropping a 4 to 1 decision to the Chiefs.
Over the I-90, the Hawks battled Seattle Thunderbirds again on TV. Even though Seattle was loaded, the Hawks kept pace with them and got on the scoreboard when Gabe Klassen used a stretch pass to Marcus Nguyen, and it appeared Thomas Milic made the stop only to see the puck dribble across the line for a shorthanded marker.
Seattle came back with a pair of goals 46 seconds apart, added another in the third, and capped it off with an empty net goal to take it 4 -1.
The Hawks now sit 15 points back of Seattle, and while they could catch them, they also have to be wary of both Tri-City and Everett, but they do have some room to give, and obviously, the idea is to go in strong into the postseason.