With just four home games now left in the schedule and six on the road, time is coming close for the Hawks to make a play for the top spot in the US Division. The Winterhawks are nipping at the heels of Everett with anywhere from one to three points back of them, and Seattle sitting six back of the Hawks but having three games in hand each ahead of the Hawks means Seattle still can’t catch the Hawks if they win three straight. Still, if Everett gets hot, the margin atop the US Division may be insurmountable for the Hawks to catch up on. Either way, the next few weeks are going to be very interesting.
The Portland Winterhawks had two games this week, and right now, they are not in a position to play three games in three nights for the rest of the season but had a rough one this past week where they played four games in five nights.
The final two games saw the Hawks on the road in Kent, WA, and followed it with a home game against the Vancouver Giants.
The Seattle game was what one might expect in a playoff affair. With Seattle gaining a brutal 53-28 shot advantage in the game. Portland started things off with a goal by Clay Hanus. Luke Schelter took the initial shot, which Thomas Milic stopped in the Seattle goal. The puck, though, dribbled through the pads and pounced on by Hanus, who pushed it into the empty net. The Hawks led 1-0 end on the first period.
To the second, where the Hawks scored again, this time on a powerplay. Tyson Kozak was being draped by a Seattle defender but was able to flip a pass to Jaydon Dureau, who made no mistake as he shot past Milic for the 2-0 lead at the end of two.
Reid Schaefer and Jared Davidson found a way to get goals past Taylor Gauthier late in the third period to send the game into overtime. Despite the barrage in the third and subsequent overtime for the Thunderbirds, the game remained tied and destined for a shootout.
Both teams saw their respective goaltenders stop the first six shots each, and Gauthier did so on the seventh, but Luca Cagnoni ended the drought for the Hawks with a goal allowing the Hawks a 3-2 shootout win.
The next night it was Mascot Night with the Hawks hosting the Vancouver Giants.
Portland held a 46-31 shot advantage but went 0 for 6 on the powerplay, with Vancouver scoring one on four tries.
Zack Ostapchuk scored a shorthanded goal just 1;35 into the contest. Fabian Lysell, on the powerplay, scored midway through the first to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead at the end of one period.
Goals by Adam Hall in his first of two on the night and Jaden Lipinski just 256 seconds apart spelled the night’s end for Hawks starting goaltender Duante Giannuzzi. Alex Cotton and Hall’s second of the night a minute apart gave the Giants a commanding 6-0 lead.
Three minutes after the Giants’ sixth goal, Marcus Nguyen scored his first of two as the Hawks tried to come back. Just over a minute later, it was James Stefan who scored his 31st of the year, and then Ngyuen, towards the end of the period, halved the Giants’ lead.
Midway through the third period. Kyle Chykowski scored on the backhand to get the game even closer. James Stefan then scored just over fifteen minutes into the third to make it a one-goal game. The Hawks pulled Gauthier with just over two minutes left in the game but couldn’t find the equalizer and fell to Vancouver 6-5.
In the next couple of weeks, Everett will face Vancouver twice, and obviously, the Hawks will be hoping for the Giants’ success. The Silvertips season will end one day later than Portland’s with an April 16 matchup against Tri-City, so one will see if the game on the 15th versus Portland will be the crowning moment.
On Sunday, March 20, the Hawks will again feature Hockey is for Everyone as they celebrate Ladies Hockey and the Portland Buckaroos. Fans attending the game will be seeing some exceptional, never before seen items from the collection of curator for the Buckaroos Scott Peterson.
The Hawks will be on CW 32 this coming Saturday, March 19, at 6 pm from accesso ShoWare Center. This will be the last scheduled televised game that the Hawks have for this season.
There is one scheduled viewing party at Replays on Saturday, March 26, which will feature a game between Everett and Portland. With both teams vying for the top spot in the US Division, there is no doubt that this will be a very important matchup.
This past week I received a call from Hartley Miller who does the color commentary for the Prince George Cougars and does a podcast called CATSCAN where he features various people related to hockey. I was very privileged to do this and offer it to you if you wish to listen. It’s about an hour