The Winterhawks had a little pre-Christmas cheer with word that Cody Glass was headed back to Portland from a brief stay at Canada’s World Junior Championship camp. Glass, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft by the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights, was in hot competition with several other centers for a spot on Canada’s team, but at eighteen, was passed over for an older player. Should Glass remain in the WHL next season, he will most likely be on Canada’s radar again. The other news was the return of Ryan Hughes following surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered back in October. Hughes had started the season with a rush of points and his return gives the Hawks a bit more depth with the loss of Keiffer Bellows, Joachim Blichfeld and Henri Jokiharju who are off at World Junior camps and expected to make their respective teams where there are fewer players of their caliber.
With two games to finish before Christmas break, the Hawks were looking to keep in the CHL rankings poll where they sat eighth overall after falling from fourth the previous week. The Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, who sit with a 29-3-2 record, sit atop the CHL poll after amassing twenty straight wins and dominating the standings with twenty straight wins thus far.
The last games leading to Christmas are referred to as the Sugarplum games as the players can’t wait to head home for Christmas like the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” where visions of sugarplums dance in their heads.
Portland started the Sugarplum weekend leading to the Christmas break with a home game against the Spokane Chiefs. Two breakaways early in the first period led to two shorthanded goals by Alex Overhardt and Skyler McKenzie to put the Chiefs in a deficit. Following a penalty kill by the Winterhawks, Spokane was able to cash in on two powerplay goals and added a third late in the period to take the lead. Midway through the second period, the Chiefs added a fourth goal to their tally.
Ty Kolle scored just two minutes later to bring the Hawks close, but Spokane would restore their two-goal lead just a couple minutes later. Late in the third period, Spokane’s Riley McKay took a check to the head major penalty which touched off a flurry of other penalties. Despite having only two shots on goal in the third period, Spokane would be the only one to score as they added an empty net goal while short-handed to finish the scoring and take a 6-3 win. Portland outshot Spokane 40-30, but was blanked on seven powerplays while Spokane capitalized on three of their five chances with the man advantage.
The Hawks then headed to Everett that night to play an early afternoon game in Silvertip Country and started the night off well. Just over a minute into the game, Cody Glass fed a great pass to Skyler McKenzie who buried it past Dustin Wolf giving the Hawks the early lead. Everett responded with a pair of goals in the middle of the frame to take the lead. Skyler McKenzie fooled Wolf with what the Everett goaltender thought was going to be a pass and instead a wraparound shot just thirty seconds later to knot the game at two.
Just over five minutes into the second period, a missed clearing attempt allowed Jake Christiansen to float a pass to Bryce Kindopp who poked it in the open net to give Everett the lead again. Everett added another on a tipped pass by Martin Fasko-Rudas. A turnover by the Hawks in their zone game Akash Bains a goal from the slot making it 5-2 midway through the second period and spelling the end of the night for Shane Farkas in the Portland goal.
Cole Kehler came in relief and was in goal just three minutes when Patrick Bajkov found himself at the corner of the net to score and put the Tips up by four. Another turnover by the Hawks in their zone led to a shot from the left post by Riley Sutter to add more misery to the Hawks night.
The third saw Jake Gricius score just five minutes in for the Hawks, but that celebration was short-lived when Cody Glass’s pass was intercepted by Brandson Hein who walked in on a breakaway to put the Tips up 8-3 and that’s where the score would remain. Portland had no powerplays in the contest and Everett went 0 for 3 during the game. Shots were 28-23 for Everett on a night the Hawks will soon forget as they head off for the Christmas break.
Following the Christmas break, the Portland Winterhawks will start off at home with their next game Wednesday, December 27 in Portland against the Tri-City Americans and then a weekend run featuring three games in three nights as they head to Tri-City then Kent to play the Thunderbirds before returning home for the annual New Year’s Eve bash termed the “Battle With Seattle”.
December 29 and 30 will be a special time for skating fans in Portland as Veterans Memorial Coliseum becomes a theater for the night with showings of Frozen and The Mighty Ducks on the jumbotron on Friday the 29th and then airing the televised game between Seattle and Portland airing from Kent at 6pm on the 30th. All fans with their own skates can skate on the Coliseum ice and concession stands will be open as well for the night of fun. The event itself is free with the parking garage offering a special $5 parking price.