Portland played a pair of games this week leading to the playoffs. The question was whether they would snag the number two seed when the teams are reseeded in the next round. They also would have to wait until all the Western Conference games were complete even to figure out who they’d face in the first round, as there was a logjam with four teams fighting for three spots.
Portland took to the road in a mid-week game versus Tri-City, and it seemed that the game itself was more challenging than it should have been.
Jack O’Brien started things off for the Hawks after he intercepted a pass in the Tri-City zone, moved in, and fired over Thomas Suchanek’s glove just a minute and a half in.
The score was tied just over a minute into the second as Samuel Huo scored after a scramble, and Clay Hanas, in an effort to help out, instead tripped over and landed on Dante Giannuzzi, who was between the pipes for Portland. Midway through the period, Jaydon Dureau took a series of crosschecks allowing Kyle Chyzowski to storm in and fire on Suchanek, giving Portland the lead. A couple of minutes later, Marcus Nguyen went end to end and went top shelf on Suchanek to add the lead. Late in the period, Petr Moravec also went end to end, firing stick side on Giannuzzi to carve into the margin.
The third period saw Tri-City tie it up midway through the period when Parker Bell scored to bring the game to overtime.
With Samuel Huo off for slashing, Portland had a 4-3 man advantage. A couple of attempts by Portland saw Tri-City get the puck and try to shoot down the ice. It was recovered by James Stefan, who circled in a fired the game winner for Portland in the 4-3 overtime win. Portland outshot Tri-City 43-23 and went one for four on the powerplay while preventing Tri-City from capitalizing on their three tries.
In another rescheduled game from March 2, Portland finished the regular season with Everett on their annual awards night.
The first period was scoreless as Portland took an 18-6 shot advantage in the period.
The scoring started in the second period as Michal Gut tipped in a shot from the blueline to give Everett the early lead. Seven minutes later, on the powerplay, Jack O’Brien took a loose puck to shoot past Koen MacIness in the Everett net.
Seven minutes later, it was another Portland powerplay with Aiden Litke getting a behind-the-net pass from Jack O’Brien and firing right from the slot to give Portland the lead.
Less than two minutes later, Jaydon Dureau sprung loose from the pack and took a pass heading into the Everett zone. Dureau dabbled with the puck before firing it past MacIness for a 3-1 lead.
With Jonny Lambos off on a kneeing major for Everett, Jaydon Dureau added to his goal total with a flip of the puck over MacIness to give the Hawks a commanding lead.
Kurtis Smythe completed the scoring with a cross goal pass from Kyle Chyzowki, and he made a mistake as Portland built up a 5-1 lead, which was the final. Portland outshot Everett 49-22 and went 3 for the powerplay, with Everett stopped on all three attempts.
The awards were handed out pregame and went as follows:
Scholastic Award – Gabe Klassen
PWHBC Memorial Most Popular Player of the Year – Cross Hanas
Leading Scorer Award- Cross Hanas
Most Valuable Player -Tyson Kozak
Jan and Robert Boss Defensive Player of the Year – Clay Hanus
Rookie of the Year – Luca Cagnoni
Sportsmanship and Anility Award – Gabe Klassen
Winterhawk Award – Tyson Kozak
It took until the completion of games the next night as four teams vied for three spots in the postseason.
Spokane, Vancouver, and Prince George made the playoffs but had to break the three-way tie on goal differential, on which Prince George was the leader on.
Matchups are as follows:
Everett vs. Vancouver
Kamloops vs. Spokane
Portland vs. Prince George
Seattle vs. Kelowna
In the East:
Winnipeg vs. Prince Albert
Edmonton vs. Lethbridge
Saskatoon vs. Moose Jaw
Red Deer vs. Brandon
With travel distances for Portland and Prince George, the games will go Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 6 pm in Portland, Tuesday and Wednesday7pm in Prince George. If games are needed after that, they will be Saturday at 5 pm in Portland, Monday at 7 pm in Prince George, and Wednesday in Portland.
On Saturday, April 23, there will be a Fan Fest presented by Toyota on the RQ Commons in front of the VMC. The Fest starting at 3 pm, will be free and open to the public until the game begins. People will have an opportunity to purchase Winterhawks gear, join the Booster Club, and much more. Come and celebrate as the Hawks look to the playoffs!
The CHL Poll came out before the Winterhawks smashed Everett, and so they earned just an honorable mention.
The poll sees Hamilton lead the way in the poll, followed by two teams from the WHL in Winnipeg ICE and Edmonton Oil Kings. Windsor Spitfires are next, followed by the Everett Silvertips. Two Quebec Major Junior teams follow in Quebec Ramparts and Charlottetown Islanders. The North Bay Battalion, Saint John Sea Dogs, and Kamloops Blazers round out the poll. Honorable mentions go to Portland Winterhawks, Sherbrooke Phoenix, and Kingston Frontenacs.
With the playoffs starting this week, we will see if one more poll comes out and where the final standings land.