Before leaving Portland, the Winterhawks had amassed a six-game winning streak, one that saw the power of the Kieffer Bellows, Cody Glass and Skyler McKenzie line. The three combined for most of the points during the string of wins and Cole Kehler shut the door on the opposition while in net for the Hawks.
Despite being hundreds of miles from their home base in Portland, the swing allowed many families of the players to visit with their sons as many are Canadian based. The six-game swing has been broken up into three two game segments with four of those occurring in five nights. Starting off in Cranbrook, British Columbia, the Kootenay Ice were ready to give the Hawks a good run. Portland’s Skyler McKenzie opened the scoring midway through the first period and had to wait until early in the second to increase their lead by Layne Gilliss. Kottney made it close midway through the period, but Brenden DeJong would add a powerplay goal seconds before the period ended to restore the two-goal lead. Kieffer Bellows and Skyler McKenzie would add third period goals to put it away. Kootenay would add a single, but it wasn’t enough as the 55 shots put on the Kootenay net resulted in a 5-2 win. Portland cashed in on one of two powerplays while Kootenay failed to connect on their six powerplays.
The next night, after a five-hour drive to Calgary, it was a battle with the Calgary Hitmen. Portland had trounced them 9-2 last season in Portland, but hadn’t experienced the same fate last time two years ago in Cowtown. However, the Hitman hadn’t seen the Hawks top line either and they would see it in droves. In the first thirteen minutes of the game, Kieffer Bellows had pocketed two goals and Jake Gricius had added another to give the visitors a strong lead. Cody Glass would add another to the Hawks tally early in the second on the powerplay before Calgary potted two of their own to make the game a two-goal differential. Skyler McKenzie and Joachim Blichfeld on the powerplay and Bronson Sharp would add goals late in the second to give the Hawks a commanding lead. Midway through the third, Calgary would add the only tally of the period to end the score at 7-3. Portland outshot Calgary 37-29 and crushed Calgary with three of five powerplay chances going in while the Hitmen would go scoreless on three opportunities. Portland’s Matthew Quigley was assessed a minor penalty for boarding late in the third period, however, the Hitmen submitted the tape of the incident to the league where they assessed a two-game suspension to Quigley, meaning he would miss the Red Deer and Edmonton games.
With a day break in between, the Hawks would get some rest as they prepared for the Red Deer Rebels. Against the Rebels, Shane Farkas would get his first start since October 21, and he would have to come up big. Cody Glass opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal midway through the first period only to be answered by Kristian Reichel for Red Deer to end the first period deadlocked. For the first time on the trip, the home team took the lead as Red Deer’s Mason McCarty was able to blow one past Farkas. However, that lead lasted all of fifteen seconds as Cody Glass would find a loose puck in front of the Red Deer net to equal the score. Then it was the Joachim Blichfeld show. With two goals in the second period and one in the third, one of each period coming on the powerplay and a marker by John Ludvig, the Hawks blew past the Rebels 6-2. The game featured nine powerplays for each team with Portland scoring on two, while Red Deer had just one. Red Deer did get a penalty shot opportunity which Farkas came up big on a save. The Rebels spent much of the third period in the penalty box with as many as four members in the box at one time, making it impossible to mount any sort of comeback. Each team had 40 shots on goal and Farkas was rewarded with the third star of the game.
Heading just ninety minutes north, the Hawks would face a troubled Edmonton Oil Kings team that had gone winless in their last ten games. Edmonton started Travis Child in net, an overage goaltender who was going to face a very potent offense. Portland outshot Edmonton 10-4 in the first period, but came away with no goals in a scoreless first period. Early into the second period, after a stop by Cole Kehler and a pass to Henri Jokiharju, Cody Glass would end the run with a powerplay goal to open the scoring just under three minutes into the period. Glass would add another powerplay goal midway through the second period as the Hawks continued their dominance in shots on goal. The third period saw Edmonton try to make a comeback, leading the period in shots on goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Right off the faceoff in the Hawks zone, Keoni Texeira found Cody Glass streaking down the right side and his pass to Skyler McKenzie on the opposite side allowed him to bag the empty net goal with just a minute and a half remaining in the game. Kehler added another star to his total this month and his ninth straight win while the Hawks worked up to their tenth straight win and unbeaten so far in the month of November.
Having a couple days off allowed the Hawks a chance to practice on an outdoor rink in Edmonton, Alberta. Donned in practice jerseys, toques and skates, the Hawks got to test out their skills the way hockey used to be played a hundred years ago.
With a 19-4 record, Portland is one point behind Moose Jaw (19-5-0-1) with two games in hand and one point up on Victoria (18-8-1) with four games in hand. The Hawks were ranked fourth overall in the CHL poll this past week with Sarnia Sting of the OHL leading the way at 21-4-1 and Sault Ste Marie at 20-3-2 with 11 straight wins, close behind. The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (17-4- 2) and Quebec Ramparts (17-9-1) round out the top teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With Portland having the third best winning percentage in the CHL as of now, they could move up yet another spot in the poll this week.
With two games left both on the swing and the month of November, the Hawks could be on a record setting pace at the third of the way point of the season. Coming up on the Winterhawks calendar for December is the Toy Drive which will take place Sunday, December 3 at the Moda Center versus the Saskatoon Blades. Toys will be collected for the FOX 12 / Les Schwab Toy Drive and people can also buy toys at the game to donate. Less than a week later, the Teddy Bear Toss will take place at the Memorial Coliseum with the plush heading to various local charities. Well over 10,000 bears and assorted plush will hit the ice with Portland’s first goal of the game on Saturday, December 9.