Tuesday, February 21, 2017
You would not think the two teams were both playing their third game in three nights as the first period was of the energetic variety. Seattle and Portland traded plenty of body-checks in the opening session and a goal apiece as well. Tyler Adams scored on the power play to open the scoring and it will go down as one of the easiest goals he will ever score. Portland goalie Cole Kehler misjudged where the puck was behind the net, while trying to play it and looked down while getting a handle of it and passing it. The pass went right off a fore-checking Adams and down to his stick right in front of the vacant net. He chipped it in for his fourth of the year and his third as a Thunderbird. All three of those goals have come against Portland. Portland answered with a power play marker of their own as Henri Jokiharju looked to shoot and then snapped a hard pass right onto the tape of Evan Weinger diagonally, across the zone. Weinger went down to one knee to one-time the puck past Seattle goalie Matt Berlin.
Keoni Texeira staked Portland to a 4-2 lead against the flow of play 8:50 into the third period. Skyler McKenzie missed on a pass to Cody Glass driving the net and the puck ricocheted off the boards out to Keoni Texeira. The d-man powered a one-timer through Berlin's pads for his 11th goal of the year. Seattle kept the pressure on and finally got one past a stellar Cole Kehler with 8:27 left in the game.Mathew Barzal hit Donovan Neuls with a pass in stride at the Portland blue line and Neuls pushed the puck ahead one way past Henri Jokiharju, while going around him the other way. He corralled the puck and fired a shot past Kehler. Seattle then tied the game with Berlin pulled for an extra-attacker and only 46 seconds left. Tyszka's shot hit Kehler and bounced out to Sami Moilanen. The Finnish rookie batted at the puck and slipped it past Kehler.
Both squads had some great opportunities in the shootout, but could not beat either Matt Berlin or Cole Kehler. In the shootout, Mathew Barzal and Sami Moilanen used similar tactics to beat Kehler. They waited for the goalie to commit and then fired a shot past him. Keegan Iverson converted by just firing a quick shot that Berlin was not expecting. Skyler McKenzie had the chance to send the shootout to a fourth round but was turned away by Berlin.
Matt Berlin stopped 29 of 33 to get the win, while Cole Kehler turned away 45 of 49 shots.
Portland's power play went 1/2, while Seattle got six chances and converted on two of them.
-While nursing a one-goal lead, Evan Weinger was hauled down on a breakaway. He was given a penalty shot, but could not get the puck past Berlin. That would have been a prime opportunity to have a two-minute power play as there was only 3:16 left in the game. You have to think the Hawks would have preferred the man advantage.
-Entering hockey games in Portland continues to be an issue as the line to get through security looked to be about 200-deep at puck drop, reportedly.
-Portland gets the one-point and now has a nine-point lead on Spokane for the last playoff spot out west. The Chiefs have 13 games left, while Portland has 12. Unless the Hawks go on a prolonged losing streak, it will be nearly impossible for the Chiefs to overtake them at this point. The two teams have two games left against each other.
-Meanwhile Portland is jus tone point back of Victoria for the first wild card spot and five points behind Tri-City for the third seed in the U.S. Division bracket. Portland has one game in hand on Tri-City. If the Hawks win in regulation on Wednesday in Kennewick, they could narrow that gap to just three points.
It looked to be a scoreless first period, until Ethan Bear powered home a one-timer off a feed from Ryan Gropp with just 40 seconds remaining in the period. Gropp drew Caleb Jones over to him at the blue line and fed a nice pass right to an onrushing Ethan Bear. Bear quickly fired the puck past Portland goalie Shane Farkas for the 1-0 lead.
Keegan Iverson helped the Hawks get even in the second period with a blind backhand pass from the corner right into the slot for Henri Jokiharju to beat Seattle goalie Rylan Toth with a wrist shot. The goal was Jokijarju's eighth this season and came on the power play. Bear helped Seattle retake the lead as he worked to an open area and waited for Keegan Kolesar to knife through the defense and drop a pass across to him in space. Jones got that one back around five minutes later on a great individual effort. He flew up the ice while both teams were skating four aside and stomped on the brakes just inside the blue line. He then powered a slap shot past Toth to make it 2-2.
The game was a tight one entering the third period. The teams were tied and Seattle had just one more shot on net than the Hawks. Possession was also likely near 50:50. Portland took the early third period lead behind a goal from team captain Keegan Iverson. On a three-on-three rush up the ice, Iverson looked off both Toth and the defense before cutting to the middle and wiring a shot past Toth's blocker. The goal was Iverson's 17th of the year. Bear helped Seattle tie the game for the third time on the power play with 10:10 left. Bear's slap shot from the point was tipped in by Donovan Neuls at the net-front. The goal was initially given to Bear, leading Seattle fans to throw hats on the ice, thinking he had netted a hat trick. Eventually the goal was granted to Neuls. Then the "teenager line" put home the game-winner with 6:47 left. Sami Moilanen skated hard around the net and got a pass to the other side of the net where Neuls backhanded a pass to the far post. Tyler Adams was there to direct home the rebound and it was 4-3. Seattle put the game away with a goal as Portland was pressing. A long outlet pass from Bear to Keegan Kolesar sent him in on a two-on-one with Ryan Gropp. Kolesar dished to Gropp and the N.Y. Rangers' prospect put it away.
Shane Farkas stopped 25 of 28, while Farkas turned away 27 of 32.
Joachim Blichfeld got things going just 59 seconds in as he took advantage of a turnover and skated out of the corner before firing a shot across the body and beating Petersen. The goal extended Blichfeld's goal streak to four games. He has six goals in that span.
Blichfeld hleped put the Hawks up 2-0 as he intercepted a Jared Freadrich pass in the Rebels' zone and fired a pass that was tipped in by Ryan Hughes. Blichfeld paid the price as he took a high stick as he made the pass. 1:33 later, the Rebels cut the lead to one with a power play goal. Colton Bobyk fired a point shot off the post and Adam Musil was "Johnny on the spot" for the rebound sliding it past Cole Kehler. Keegan Iverson put Portland up two once more as he made a great play in his own zone, tipping the puck off the boards and to himself as he flew out of the zone. Overson then fired a shot past Petersen and Portland was up 3-1. 39 seconds later the Rebels took advantage of a fortunate bounce to make it 3-2. Carson Sass's shot bounced around and came out to Michael Spacek in tight on the net. Spacek deftly flicked the puck in without much room to do so. In the back-and-forth second, Portland got the next goal off the stick of rookie Jake Gricius. On the rush, Gricius utilized a Lane Gilliss screen and wired a shot in past Petersen for the 4-2 lead.
Portland and Red Deer kept the flow going but nobody could find twine until there was just 5:48 left in the game. On the power play Freadrich got away a quick shot from the point that was deflected in off a Winterhawk defender. Portland's defense helped their goalie out the rest of the way by reading passing lanes and keeping many great scoring chances from getting in on Kehler. They held on for their 32nd win of the season.
Kehler got the win as he stopped 30 of 33. Meanwhile Petersen took the "L" as he turned away 40 of 44.
Red Deer went 2/6 on the power play while Portland went 0/5.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Playing in his 76th career WHL game Monday afternoon in Kamloops, Cole Kehler picked a pivotal time to accomplish the first shutout of his WHL career. For one thing, he was less than two days removed from allowing seven goals to Seattle. For another he was taking on the team that traded him to Portland in the offseason for a seventh round bantam draft pick. His Winterhawks built a 3-0 lead going into the third period and Kehler stopped 41 total shots including 18 in the third period alone to backstop his team to a big 4-0 win. It was truly a tale of opposites as Kehler followed up the worst statistical start of his season with the best of his career. Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and an assist and Henri Jokiharju and Cody Glass both had two assists in the win. Team captain Keegan Iverson also had a goal in his return to the lineup after a one month absence due to injury.The game at a glance is presented by @Toyota - congrats, @kehler298 on the shutout!! pic.twitter.com/xUqnsgEP2U— Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks) February 14, 2017
Portland got things going with the lone goal of the first period 12:07 into the game. Cody Glass won a corner battle easily against Kamloops d-man Luke Zazula by lifting his stick. He then fed a pass right into the slot and to Keoni Texeira. The native of Fontana, California waited and picked his spot, beating Kamloops goalie Connor Ingram. The goal was Texeira's first since January 20th and 10th on the season.
The second period was Portland's best as they scored twice and sustained pressure throughout to the tune of 19 total shots. First, Cody Glass started the play by entering the Blazers' zone and dropping a pass to Blichfeld. The Danish sniper fired a pass across to Keegan Iverson and the Portland captain settled it before wiring it past Ingram. Then, after Ryan Hughes had his shot blocked, Blichfeld banked a backhand shot off of Ingram and in. The goal was Blichfeld's fifth in the last three games.
Portland then weathered the storm in the third period as Kehler stopped everything sent his way and his d-men did a great job of removing any rebounds from danger. The rebound goal has been Portland's bane this season and the improvement at clearing the puck was a big key in the shutout. Evan Weinger notched his 17th on the year into the empty net after Ingram was pulled for an extra attacker.
Connor Ingram lost for the first time in regulation to Portland over three seasons. He is now 5-1-0-1 against the Winterhawks all time. He stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced.
Portland went 1/1 on the power play while Kamloops went 0/2. The Hawks are now third in the league on the power play at 25.4 percent. They trail just Regina and Medicine Hat who both lead their divisions. Interestingly enough, the Hawks are far better on the power play when playing away form home. They convert 30.6 percent of their chances while on the road. This is just one percent behind Regina for best in the WHL.
-Portland took the four-game season series from Kamloops with a 3-0-0-1 record.
-10 of the 15 remaining games Portland has to play are within the U.S. Division. Of the five non-divisional games, three are against the last-place team in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants.
-With Spokane edging Prince George elsewhere Monday, the Winterhawks stayed eight points ahead for the last seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Chiefs use their game in hand Tuesday night back in Prince George. They can cut the Portland lead down to six points with a win.
-With the win Monday though, the Hawks now trail Victoria by just one point for the seventh seed. They are also just two points behind Tri-City for the third seed in the U.S. with a game in hand.
-Keegan Iverson was back in the lineup and was noticeably breathing heavy. When he gets back into game shape, the impact he will have on the playoff run cannot be undersold.
-After months of playing with Evan Weinger, Ryan Hughes appears to have found some chemistry with Joachim Blichfeld. While playing on Alex Overhardt's wings the duo has been impressive. Blichfeld is now on a six-game point streak, during which he has 10 points.
-Kamloops was missing defenseman Ondrej Vala to a suspension and forward Deven Sideroff to an injury.
-While being forced into a lot of minutes by Vala's absence, Dallas Valentine had a strong game. His best moment came when he tied up Cody Glass on sure goal off play by Iverson and Jones that got the puck to the back door.
-With Michael Bullion getting his first WHL shutout Saturday night in a 5-0 Medicine Hat win over Lethbridge, both 19-year-old goalies who started the year with Portland earned their first shutouts two days apart.
-Next up for Portland is a game Friday night vs. Red Deer. They then play a home-and-home series with Seattle during the weekend.
Monday, February 13, 2017
The Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds have a pair of potent offenses. They put on a show in front of the fans in Kent on Saturday night. They combined for five first period goals and a total of 13 on just 62 combined shots. Seattle's Matt Barzal had one goal and five assists for his first career six-point night. He had 15 assists in one week of WHL hockey. The Thunderbirds battled through a rash of injuries that had them down to 16 healthy skaters and still they found a way to rack up eight goals in an 8-5 win over Portland. Ethan Bear and Ryan Gropp also had four points in the game for Seattle while Cody Glass led the way for the Hawks with three points.The game at a glance from tonight's #Winterhawks game is presented by @Toyota: pic.twitter.com/b1u3gMXbsb— Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks) February 12, 2017
Just 1:39 into the game Seattle got things going offensively. After Portland turned the puck over at the blue line, Barzal fed Tyler Adams and he drove into space, got Portland goalie Cole Kehler to go down and then backhanded a shot past him. The goal was Adams' first with the Thunderbirds and second of the year. The Winterhawks tied things up on a rebound in tight on Seattle goalie Rylan Toth. Keoni Texeira's slap shot created the second chance opportunity and Jake Gricius got two chances at the loose puck. The goal was Gricius's sixth this season. Just over a minute later Portland took the lead on a next-level play by their leading scorer. Brendan De Jong sent a nice pass down the left wing for Glass to skate onto and he roofed a backhand shot under the bar in tight on Toth. Seattle quickly knotted things back up though as Skyler McKenzie fanned on a great chance in the slot, leading to a breakout the other way. Ryan Gropp's shot on the rush was expertly tipped in by Mathew Barzal. It was one of the nicer tip-ins you will see at this level of hockey as Barzal put his stick between his legs to get the blade on it. In this track meet of a hockey game continued late in the first period as a pad save on an Evan Weinger breakaway by Toth at one end sparked a goal by Reese Harsch at the other. A rebound came right out to the d-man and he powered a shot past Kehler for the 3-2 Seattle lead.
The T-birds extended their lead with a short-handed marker to start the second. Caleb Jones tried to adjust and get a shot through, but tripped over himself, leaving Alexander True to skate onto the puck for a breakaway. He finished it off with a low shot through Kehler's five-hole. Seattle made it 5-2 on a five-on-three power play. After some great penalty-killing a worn down Portland unit could not get over in time to block an Keegan Kolesar one-timer of an Ethan Bear pass. The Hawks would not go quietly though as they erupted for two more goals in the period to cut the Seattle lead back to one. Ryan Hughes won a battle over Aaron Hyman for a 50-50 puck behind the Seattle net and smartly left the biscuit for Joachim Blichfeld who was skating the other way. A confused Toth thought Hughes still had it and he never even got to the other post to contest the Blichfeld wrap around chance. Then on the power play Glass fed a slick cross-ice pass to Blichfeld for a one-timer and the game was 5-4 entering the final frame.
After Portland had several great opportunities to tie the game up, Seattle scored a gut-wrenching goal to make it 6-4. After Ryan Hughes took a hooking penalty, Seattle converted once more on the power play. The goal was of a familiar variety as Matt Barzal slid a saucer pass across to Ethan Bear for the one-timer. Kehler had no chance to get over in time. Portland once again cut the lead to one but you got the feeling they just could not stop Seattle enough on Saturday night to come all the way back. Cody Glass won a face off to Rylan Toth's left and Skyler McKenzie wired a shot past a screened Toth to make it 6-5. The goal was McKenzie's team-leading 35th of the year. Seattle got some insurance just 33 seconds later as they stretched out Portland's defense and Kolesar slid a shot/pass right onto the tape of Ryan Gropp at the back door. The N.Y. rangers' prospect buried it. He has now scored in six straight games. After Kehler was pulled for an extra-attacker Gropp netted another into the vacant twine to give its final score of 8-5.
Kehler had one of his worst statistical games as he stopped just 20 of the 27 shots he faced. Toth at the other end was a little better as he turned away 29 of 34.
-Portland had quite a few defensive lapses in the game and really never limited Seattle's puck movement on the rush with back-checking.
-Glass is all the way up to 77 points in 54 games. He sits in seventh place, just one point back of Lethbridge overage forward Tyler Wong.
-Skyler McKenzie is seventh in goals with 35, just one back of Lethbridge's Zak Zborosky.
-Blichfeld has four goals in his last two games. With 48 total points he is now fifth in rookie scoring just one behind Medicine hat's John Dahlstrom.
-With Spokane beating Tri-City 4-3, they cut Portland's lead for the last playoff spot down to eight points. The Chiefs have one game in hand.
Spokane started things 5:12 into the game. Elynuik, who had not played since January 28th celebrated his return with an early goal. Hayden Ostir sprung him up the left wing with a nice pass and the Carolina Hurricanes' prospect fired a shot that beat Portland goalie Shane Farkas on the near side. The goal was 19th of the year. Portland tied things up a little over 10 minutes of game time later on a short-handed goal. Skyler McKenzie forced a turnover at his own blue line and sent the puck out into space for Cody Glass. The Hawks' center beat both Spokane d-men to the puck, split them and beat Spokane goalie Dawson Weatherill. He had to hold off Spokane blue liner Tyson Helgesen the whole time and was still able to get a strong shot off. Just 44 seconds later, the Chiefs retook their one-goal lead. After some strong possession in the Portland zone, Alex Mowbray skated into space and fired a shot toward the Portland net. Farkas did not see the shot coming and it beat him on his blocker side.
The Chiefs got another goal off a long shot 3:34 into the second period to extend their lead to 3-1. With Kailer Yamamoto providing the screen, Keanu Yamamoto powered a slap shot past Farkas. The goal came on the power play and was set up by a nifty one-touch pass from Hudson Elynuik. Henri Jokiharju proved that the basketball saying: "follow your own shot" can work in hockey as well in cutting the Spokane lead to one. Jokiharju's first slap shot was stopped by Weatherill but a huge rebound popped out into the slot. The speedy defenseman skated right to where the puck came out and powered another slap shot towards the net. This time he beat the Spokane goalie for his seventh goal of the year. The Chiefs would get that one right back too and would chase Shane Farkas from the net in the process. On a broken play, Jaret Anderson-Dolan found a loose puck in the slot and beat Farkas down low. Farkas played just over 32 minutes and gave up four goals on 17 shots. Cole Kehler replaced him in the Portland net.
Portland coach Mike Johnston's pulling of Farkas did not have an immediate effect on his team but they did come out flying in the third period. They out shot Spokane 20-5 in the period and scored twice to force overtime. First, Jokiharju got enough past the Chiefs' defense to get a shot in low on Weatherill from the right wing. Alex Overhardt drove hard to the net, occupying two defenders and freeing up Blichfeld to put away the rebound. Then, with 4:29 left in the game the trio combined again. Jokiharju got another shot on that caused issues for the Spokane net minder. Alex Overhardt got to the puck at the near post and backhanded a pass right into the backhand of Blichfeld at the back post. The Danish forward lifted it quickly in before Weatherill could recover. Portland nearly kept Spokane from getting any points as Ryan Hughes was sprung on a breakaway and Weatherill made a stellar pad save on him with eight seconds left in regulation.
The Chiefs had the edge in overtime possession, but Portland still had tow golden chances on a Caleb Jones end-to-end rush and another Hughes breakaway. Neither team could convert on their seven combined shots and a shootout commenced.
Blichfeld was the first shooter in the circus and he beat Weatherill blocker-side. None of the five other shooters could convert and Portland pulled out the come-from-behind win.
Cole Kehler came in and stopped all 17 shots he faced to get the win. Dawson Weatherill faced 50 total shots and stopped 46 of them.
-Portland pulled out two points but gave Spokane one by going to extra time. The Chiefs are now behind Portland by 10 points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
-Portland now leads the season series 4-2 with two of those wins coming in the shootout. All six games this year have been decided by one goal. The two teams do not play again until March 10th.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Portland opened the scoring on a crazy bounce off the end-boards. Colton Veloso was trying to dump the puck in just outside the blue line and had it carom right back out to him. Unfortunately for Weatherill he had vacated the net in order to play the puck. Veloso buried the easy goal for his 16th of the season. He will not get a more fortunate bounce this year. Spokane's Eli Zummack helped his team tie the game by harassing Portland's Keoni Texeira at center ice. He forced a turnover and his linemate Ethan McIndoe swooped in to take the puck in stride into the Hawks' zone. He chose to shoot and had his shot bounce off of Kehler's right shoulder and into the net. The Winterhawks retook the lead on a power play goal from Alex Overhardt. Jaret Anderon-Dolan's backhand clear did not get past Ryan Hughes and diminutive play-maker slide a pass off the left wing into the slot for the open Overhardt. The Portland center beat Weatherill down low for his 13th goal on the season. The Hawks then had a goal go the other way on another power play later in the first. Taylor Ross cleared the puck into space from inside his own blue line and the speedy Alex Mowbray was first to it. He got in alone on Kehler and waited out the goalie, before patiently lifting it over him. The overage forward, who was picked up after being released by Medicine Hat now has two goals since arriving in late December.
Spokane took their first lead of the contest off an error by Portland d-man Brendan De Jong in the second period. He tried to keep the puck in at the Spokane blue lien with his backhand, not anticipating that Eli Zummack was there. Zummack chipped the puck past him and broke in on a two-on-one with Hayden Ostir. Zummack's shot didn't get through but Ostir was on the loose puck in front and beat Kehler easily for the 3-2 lead. De Jong didn't let his miscue hold him mack though and he charged up the left wing a few minutes later. Hughes received a pass form the big d-man and fired a quick pass down low to Weatherill's right. De Jong chipped a redirection past the Chiefs' goalie to tie the game up again. The goal was De Jong's eighth so far this year.
The Winterhawks looked to be sitting pretty 3:21 into the game's final frame. Skyler McKenzie gave them a 4-3 lead after Cody Glass could not quite beat Weatherill off a great cross-ice feed from De Jong. McKenzie was first to the rebound and put home yet another goal. After that, the wheels fell off for Portland. After the Hawks iced the puck and could not change out their tired players, Anderson-Dolan tied it up off the face off. Ty Smith received the puck off the draw and expertly slid a pass right over to the ready young forward. His one-timer blew past Kehler to make the game 4-4. Just under three minutes later it was the Chiefs who would seize the upper hand in this back and forth game. Spokane won a board battle and the puck came out to defenseman Jeff Faith. He smartly waited instead of shooting and got a pass down low to Ostir. The forward could not get a good stick on the puck but Eli Zummack did. The small forward slammed it past a confused Kehler for the all-important one0goal lead with under 10 minutes to go. Tyson Helgesen provided his team with much needed insurance. Keanu Yamamoto lulled the Winterhawks to sleep and his expert backdoor pass to Helgesen went undeterred. The big blue-liner was quick to pinch down and convert. The two pivotal Spokane goals that gave them a 6-4 lead were exactly one minute apart. After Ethan McIndoe took a kneeing penalty, Portland pulled Kehler to give themselves a six-on-four skater advantage. Glass jumped on a rebound in the corner and slid a behind the back pass right to Joachim Blichfeld. The Dane then quickly got a pass over the wide open Overhardt and Portland cut the lead to one with 1:53 left. Luckily for the Hawks they scored on a delayed penalty to Alex Mowbray and they were able to roll out yet another six-on-four advantage. Despite heroic efforts in puck retrieval from Overhardt, Portland was unable to get another quality chance on Weatherill and the Chiefs escaped with the 6-5 win.
-Portland's seven-game win streak came to an end with the loss.
-Portland was handed plenty of chances with seven power plays in the game. They converted on two of those chances but gave up a short-handed goal as well.
-Weatherill made several big saves and two of those were in the early going. Spokane may have outshot Portland 18-13 in the first period but the Hawks had the better chances. They had a couple chances to take a comfortable lead on prime chances from Skyler McKenzie and Ryan Hughes but the Spokane goalie was heroic with some impressive saves.
-Spokane has Anderosn-Dolan now playing with the Yamamoto brothers and that is an extremely effective unit. They forced countless turnovers with their speed and they have the creativity to set up Grade A opportunities. All three of them also play well in their own zone.
-Overhardt has seven of his 13 goals over his past 13 games. He had just six over his previous 37 games.
-Cody Glass went to the locker room with 13 seconds left in the second period. He was entering the Spokane zone with the puck when Spokane defensemen Nolan Reid and Tyson Helgesen both connected with hits into his midsection. Reid appeared to strike him in the left arm and elbow area right before Helgesen hit him in the chest. He did end up coming back into the game and had an assist on Portland's fourth goal.
-Winning the game in regulation was key for the Chiefs as they cut Portland's lead for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference down to nine points. Spokane has one game in hand. The two teams go at it again Friday night in Portland. It is safe to say at this point that it will certainly be a one-goal game.