Depleted Lineup Limps to Losses on the Road for the Portland Winterhawks
Thursday, December 10, 2015
A twenty-hour drive to Prince George was first on the docket against a much improved Cougars team and one that is making waves in the BC Division. The strength of goaltender Ty Edmonds seems to be the tonic to give the Cougars a lift in their games and he certainly proved it in the back to back games against the Hawks.
Portland was not able to solve Edmonds in the first game despite a flurry of shots. Edmonds found a way to turn them all but two aside as the Cougars took the first game by a 3-2 score. Prince George had built up what seemed to be an insurmountable 3-0 score before Portland finally found a way on the power play midway through the third period to get within two. The Hawks pulled netminder Adin Hill to give them a man advantage and scored with just over thirty seconds left in the game. A flurry by the Hawks wasn't enough and the clock ran down, ending Portland's chance at a tie. The second night became a potential powderkeg as liberties by the Cougars on Hawks players without infractions being called, seemed to make the on ice situation more dangerous. The Hawks came out flying scoring twice in the first period, once with the game not even a minute old and the second at the midway mark of the first period. Prince George tallied its first goal toward the end of the first period and hit the scoresheet just two minutes into the second frame. Portland would return the lead just two minutes later which would spell the end of the night for starting goaltender Nick McBride. Once again, Ty Edmonds returned between the pipes and shut down any offense that the Hawks could muster.
Prince George would add goals midway through the second period and two more in the third to seal a 5-3 victory over Portland. Paul Bittner suffered an injury during the game and would miss the next two games as a result. Ty Edmonds for his efforts against the Hawks and a subsequent shutout over the Everett Silvertips earned him CHL Goaltender of the Week honors.
The Hawks would then make a six hour drive to Kamloops to face the Blazers, a team that the Hawks are trying to keep pace with in the conference. Kamloops started the scoring while on the power play in the first period, but it would be all of twelve seconds before Portland tied the game. It was Connor Ingram for the Blazers who would make stellar save after another in preserving the tie. Matt Revel, who scored Kamloops' first goal of the game, struck again just past the fifteen minute mark after the Hawks were hemmed in their zone and unable to prevent Revel from getting the puck past Adin Hill. The game grew tighter for the Hawks as they piled on shots, but couldn't get the puck past Ingram. The Blazers took a tripping penalty with less than 2 minutes to go in the game and Adin Hill heading to the bench for an extra attacker. With a 6 on 4 advantage, it took just 17 seconds for Rihards Bukarts to get a clean shot after tremendous pressure by Dominic Turgeon and Jack Dougherty to send the game into overtime. The 5 minute 3 on 3 overtime became a 4 on 3 with just over 30 seconds remaining in the frame as the Blazers took another ill-advised penalty. However, they were able to withstand the pressure and the game went to a shootout. In the first three rounds, the teams were tied at 2 goals apiece leading into the fourth round which went scoreless. Rodrigo Abols was able to find the net for the Hawks, while Colin Shirley shot wide which allowed the Hawks to earn a 3-2 Shootout win.
There was no rest for the Hawks who would travel another 2 hours to Kelowna to battle the Western Conference leading Rockets. The Hawks, tired and injury plagued, welcomed back Alex Schoenborn and Colton Veloso to the lineup. The Hawks nearly escaped the first period unscathed, but gave up a power play goal to Dillon Dube with just eight seconds left in the opening period. Nearly eight minutes in to the second period, the Hawks struck with a goal by the returning Colton Veloso to tie the game. However, just 40 seconds later, the Rockets scored to take the lead and Dillon Dube would add yet another less than two minutes later to make it almost unreachable for Portland. It would be a pair of penalties by the Rockets that would give Portland a 5 on 3 advantage and they scored less than a minute into it as Jack Dougherty found his way to the net to give the Hawks some life. That life would be snuffed out as a result of a Portland penalty that would give Joe Gatenby his first goal of the season to double up the Hawks 4-2.
Portland returned back home with just 2 points out of a possible 8 and having a couple days off to recharge before another 3 games in three nights. Fortunately for the Hawks, the furthest drive will be to Everett followed by a pair of games on the weekend against the Prince George Cougars in their only visit to Portland this season. Portland will be without the services of Rodrigo Abols who has been tapped for Latvia in World Junior Hockey tournament for six games, including the three this week. Paul Bittner has also been called into action for Team USA, but surprisingly Adin Hill, who was a master in nets for Team WHL versus Russia, was not selected for Team Canada.
This Friday and Saturday will be two big nights for the Hawks. Friday will feature the Les Schwab Fox 12 Toy Drive where fans are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game, or they can purchase one from the Fred Meyer stand in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Saturday will be the annual Les Schwab Teddy Bear Toss which celebrates the Winterhawks first goal of that game with flying fur in the form of stuffed animals and plush to be given to local charities, hospitals and veterans. The Winterhawks have averaged well over ten thousand bears each season, but will have to really dig hard to beat the new record of over 28,000 bears thrown at this past weekend's Calgary Hitmen game. It took nearly 40 minutes to toss and clear the multitude of bears from the ice in Calgary, Alberta.
Ice Chips: The Booster Club will be finishing off its silent auction of Christmas ornaments that were decorated by the Winterhawks players and coaching staff on Saturday, December 12 during the first-period intermission.
Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time
Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films.
#8 The Longest Yard
Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.
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