Two games separated the Portland Winterhawks from the holiday break. Both were road games up in Spokane, and the last one would be classified as the “sugarplum game” People ask what sugarplum games are. Traditionally it is the final game before the Christmas break. Most players want it over, so they may begin their limited time to visit family.
The two games were flipped identically in scores at 4-1, but the highlight would be the final Portland goal in game two.
Spokane found the scoreboard with Graham Sward dribbling one on Dante Giannuzzi’s left side nearly eight minutes into the game. Just under four minutes later, Carter Streek, who had attended a Winterhawks training camp early in the day and made his way to a regular roster spot with the Saskatoon Blades, banged one five hole as Dante Giannuzzi scrambled to get control.
Two minutes later, it was Luke Toporowski who surprised Dante with a goal to his left side, giving the Chiefs a 3-0 lead.
Robbie Fromm-Delorme put the Hawks on the board with a great pass from Kyle Chyzowski as he spread goaltender Mason Beauprit post to post and stuffed one between the legs.
Despite Portland holding Spokane to a pair of shots in the second and third periods, Chase Bertholet flipped the puck from his side of the blueline into the vacant Portland net to finish the game 4-1.
Portland outshot Spokane 40-17, with neither team gaining a powerplay goal; Portland had one chance, Spokane with two.
The next night would be the sugarplum game. The game was more high-spirited, with both teams converting once each on the powerplay. Five tries for Portland, four for Spokane, and the shots again favored Portland 36-22 with the same goaltenders, Mason Beauprit for Spokane and Dante Giannuzzi for Portland between the pipes.
After a scoreless first period, Portland scored twice in the first period, with Clay Hanus lofting one stick side, which handcuffed Beauprit just thirty seconds into the second stanza. Four minutes later, while on the powerplay, Jaydon Dureau notched his eighth of the year while being left unattended in front of Beauprit.
Spokane would take half that total with a weird one of their own. While on their powerplay, Copland Friicker threw one from the corner, which rebounded off Dante Giannuzzi’s pads and in. The score was now 2-1 at the end of two.
Portland would counter with a goal just over ten minutes into the third. After Mason Beauprit had the net almost fall on top of him due to a collision by a Spokane and Portland player, he righted the net and continued play. Ryder Thompson found himself on the doorstep and made no mistake in getting in past Beauprit for the third goal of the night.
The final goal was a thing of beauty. Cross Hanas found himself behind the Spokane net. In a play that has been tried at the NHL level with the Anaheim Ducks, Hanas stayed behind the net and flipped the puck over top of the net to a waiting James Stefan, who batted the puck mid-air past a bewildered Mason Beauprit for the Hawks fourth goal. To watch the goal is truly a thing of beauty, and being the last one in a sugarplum game, is indeed remarkable.
The Hawks won 4-1 and remained solidly in third place in the US Division and fourth place in the overall Western Conference standings, with Everett, Seattle, and Kamloops ahead of them. The Hawks have played 28 games so far, with three more set to take place once they return from the holiday break.
They will play a home and home series with Tri-City before the annual Battle with Seattle on New Year’s Eve. They will start the New Year on the road with games in Everett, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Vancouver before returning home with a game on January 12.
We will take some time away with OSN returning on January 4, at which time we will catch up on the four games they played.
At this time, I’d like to thank Arran Gimba and the rest of the OSN writers for a Happy Holiday Season and thank all of you for over ten years of bringing Hawks action and the WHL to your screens. We’ll try for ten more!
Enjoy the season, everyone!