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Portland Winterhawks Riding High on the Road and at Home

Thursday, January 29, 2015

 

Perhaps all it took was a 20 hour bus ride to Prince George to refresh the batteries. Granted, it took a 6-2 loss in Kamloops on the way to Prince George, but from there, it has been all Portland Winterhawks. The two Prince George games that saw the Hawks win by a 4-3 Shootout and an 8-2 drubbing the following night against the Cougars, seemed to create a frenzy for the Hawks when they returned home.

A three game in three night run for the Hawks, with a road game sandwiched in between is never an easy task for any team. Portland has proven time and time again that they aren't just any team. The Hawks started with a bang against the Spokane Chiefs firing early and often and opening the scoring just over two minutes into the game. Defenseman Brendan DeJong, who joined the team this season as a sixteen year old, notched his second goal of the season midway through the period. A pair of goals from Chase DeLeo in the second period, four minutes apart, solidified the game win for the Hawks. Spokane would spoil the shutout, but the fans would go home happy with Jack in the Box coupons for the four goals scored. Towards the end of the game, a fight nearly broke out between Portland's Keegan Iverson and Spokane's goaltender Garrett Hughson. As the linesman tried to keep the peace, Hughson literally blew a gasket over words exchanged and tried to muscle past the officials to get at Iverson. Both players were tossed from the game.

The next night, it was in Kent, WA to face the Seattle Thunderbirds, a team that has had Portland's number so far this season. The game was highlighted as Seattle's Teddy Bear Toss, but it was Portland that would once again, strike first. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a beauty less than two minutes into the game and Portland looked to be coming on strong. Jared Hauf would counter for Seattle near the six minute mark and the teddy bears would rain down. Compared to a Portland teddy bear toss, the bears were not as plentiful and the game resumed shortly thereafter. 

The teams would trade goals in both the second and third periods and remained tied at the end of regulation. After a few flurries by the Hawks to start overtime, Seattle poured on the pressure, having a couple of solid chances before Keoni Texeira was able clear the zone with a pass to Nic Petan. Petan was able to find Miles Koules ahead of the Seattle defenders and he made no mistake as he fired it past Taran Kozun for the Hawks fourth straight win.

The Hawks wouldn't have much celebration time as less than 18 hours later, the team would be back on home ice against the Tri City Americans. The Americans had been strong of late with two shutouts in as many games and making a push to capture one of the coveted wild card spots in the playoffs. Portland was having none of it and in similar fashion to previous games, opened the scoring early.

Just 42 seconds in, Nic Petan notched his eighth goal of the season as it stopped the shutout streak of Tri City Americans goaltender Evan Sarthou and gave the more than 8,000 attending the game some fire. Ty Comrie would reply for Tri City about eight minutes later, but Portland roared back with Oliver Bjorkstrand pocketing his 29th goal of the year and during the second period, added three more goals to put Portland up by four and appeared to be onto a laugher.   Tri City came back with two goals in the first five minutes of the third period to make things interesting. Bjorkstrand added an unassisted goal as his attempted pass was misplayed by a Tri City player at the crease and it slid through to put Portland back up by three.

Controversy arose with the next Tri City goal as it appeared Portland goaltender Adin Hill had fallen and covered the puck with his legs. Hill appeared to be pushed into the net with the puck under him and after several minutes of a review, the officials signaled it as a goal. Tri City made it close just two minutes later and pulled their goaltender to look for the equalizer. Again, after a flurry in the Portland zone, Oliver Bjorkstrand was able to spring the puck free and wired home a shot from the faceoff dot inside the Tri City zone for his third of the night. The hats were a flying as Bjorkstrand notched his 31st of the year, as the hat trick goal and a 7-5 win.

The Hawks now sit firmly in second place, five points back of first place Everett, which has two games in hand and seven points up on Seattle which has three games in hand on the Hawks. Portland takes the next couple of days off before a three games in four nights run against Victoria, Kamloops and Everett. 

Ice Chips: The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club announced it will start accepting membership signups and renewals at the first home game in February. 530 people signed up as members this past season, the third straight year of 500 members plus. The Club also announced a $1,000 donation to the Backpack Buddies program which provides weekend groceries to those on free lunch in Southeast Portland for the children's families. The donation allows the group to expand its program to 75 families from the current 50. 

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

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