The Portland Winterhawks played 3 games in 5 nights with travel in the middle.
They first faced Red Deer Rebels in Portland. Red Deer is currently on top of the Central Division with just about a quarter of a season left. The Hawks gave up a shorthanded goal midway through the first period but came back with a pair of their own, with James Stefan on the powerplay and Luca Cagnoni three minutes later to put the Hawks by one after one.
The second saw Red Deer pick up goals 25 seconds apart, first on the powerplay and then at regular strength, and added another midway through the third to put them up by two. The Hawks dug down with a goal by Diego Buttazoni with 4 minutes left, and with Dante Gianuzzi pulled for the extra attacker, Kyle Chykowski banged home the game-tying goal headed to overtime. Both teams were scoreless but had great chances at either end. To the shootout they went where Red Deer scored twice, and Portland wasn’t able to convert and saw the victory escape.
Portland outshot Red Deer 39-33, with the Hawks 1 for 4 on the powerplay and Red Deer at 2 of 4.
Red Deer takes It 5 to 4 in a shootout and remains a tough team to beat while they’re on the US Division swing.
Next up was a trip to Kennewick to face the Tri-City Americans. The last time there, they had an issue against Tri-City, where they lost heavily, so this was a revenge of sorts. Marcus Nguyen started things off for the Hawks, followed by a Tri-City powerplay goal 7 minutes later. The second saw the Hawks score three times with James Stefan on the powerplay, Aiden Litke, and Marcus Nugyen with his second of the night. Tri City grabbed their second powerplay marker of the night, leaving it at 4-2 Hawks. Tri City got an early powerplay marker to get with one, but Portland’s Gabe Klassen nabbed a powerplay goal of his own, and Ryder Thompson capped the scoring a couple of minutes later.
Portland takes it 6 to 3 and keeps pace with Seattle atop the US Division. Portland outshot Tri-City 48-36 and scored twice on 7 powerplays and Tri-City 3 on 7 tries.
They came home to face Seattle in a match airing on CW32. Portland has taken the season series thus far but has yet to face Seattle since they added Dulan Guenther to the roster. To get him and the others on the roster, they have given up the farm for the next three seasons in having no picks in the first three rounds for the next three years, meaning they have gone all in.
The struggle versus Portland was a torrid affair in the first period. While neither team scored, there were definitely labeled shots. To the second, where Seattle nabbed their first goal while on the powerplay, and again, the tight nature of the game left it at 1-0 at the end of two. In the third, two goals less than a minute apart past the middle of the frame put the game out of reach for the Hawks.
Thomas Milic scores the shutout for the team at 3 to 0. Portland outshot Seattle 36-32, and powerplays saw Seattle score once on three tries while Portland blanked on two attempts.
Next up for the Hawks are the next seven on the road, including 2 games in Spokane and Prince George and singles in Kelowna. Seattle and Everett.
Portland also announced Chaz Lucius underwent successful shoulder surgery and will be out for the season. It is unknown if he’ll return to the Hawks on a rehab stint to start the season.
The next home game will be on March 4 at the VMC with Mascot night.
The Booster Club nominations were held with the nomination of Laura Canida as President. Stuart Kemp resigned his position effective immediately to allow the club to run without issue on transition.
Portland remains two points back of Seattle but gives up two games in hand. The five remaining Seattle matchups will be critical in determining who will take the US Division.
In the latest CHL rankings, Portland was placed in the seventh spot, and Seattle in fourth.