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Winterhawks Make Things Interesting, Take Two From Top Rated Kelowna

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Last season, the Portland Winterhawks threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Kelowna Rockets, but could never secure a victory. That all changed in the playoffs when the Hawks won the series. Fast-forwarding to this season, the Hawks took it on the chin in late October, but suddenly that turned around in the following game against the Rockets handing the Rockets their first overtime loss on the road. This would lead to a showdown this weekend.

Heading into this week's action, the Hawks went to Everett and took a heartbreaking shootout loss from the Everett Silvertips and then two nights later, blasted the same Silvertips team 7-1, this time in Portland. On the road the Hawks went, heading to Kamloops with a rematch with the Blazers whom they had beaten in overtime in Portland the prior weekend. The cards weren't in the Winterhawks favor as they fell 4-1 on one of their less impressive performances this season.

Often times, a loss like that can have a rebound effect, one where a losing team can make a big comeback. However, to do that, they would have to face a doubleheader against the WHL leading Kelowna Rockets. Kelowna would be shorthanded on the bench owing to injuries and for the first game, a suspension to one of its stars. Portland started the night up against the eight-ball as the Rockets stormed out the gate and scored 5 minutes into the first game on a hard point shot by Tyrell Goulbourne. Controversy hit on the Rockets second goal as many felt that Portland's starting goaltender Brendan Burke had control of the puck at the side of the net. Continuous pushing by Kelowna's Jesse Lees sent Burke into the net, allowing the puck to cross the line for a 2-0 lead.  Burke was incensed as the goal stood and probably rattled off his game as the Rockets would score just over a minute later to lead by three. Brendan would finish the first period, but be replaced for the start of the second.

Adin Hill, who was just returning from injury, took over for Burke to start the second and the Hawks momentum took a huge turn. Just over five minutes into the second period, the Hawks went on the power play with Chase De Leo converting a beautiful pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand and suddenly the ice seemed to tilt in Portland's favor. With less than a minute remaining in the second period and again on the power play, it was Alex Schoenborn who finished off a Layne Viveiros point shot past Kelowna goaltender Jackson Whistle which gave the Hawks only a one goal deficit. Chase De Leo would notch his second of the night after a flurry by the Winterhawks around the Kelowna goal and tie the game. The impossible just became possible and the game would stay tied at the end of regulation. 

The overtime period started Kelowna's way with the puck in the Winterhawks zone, but Alex Schoenborn picked off the puck in the Hawks zone and raced up ice with Chase De Leo on a two on one. Faking a pass to De Leo and Whistle looking for the pass, Schoenborn shot the puck and it dribbled past Whistle for the win. The Hawks outshot Kelowna 52-26 and handed the Rockets their first overtime loss at home.

The next night, the Hawks stormed out of the gate and in the first two periods, and opened up a 3-0 lead. Chase DeLeo scored almost 14 minutes into the game on the power play. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his 15th of the year midway through the second and Domenic Turgeon scored his sixth of the year near the end of the second period. The third period became a comeback for the Rockets who scored 5 minutes in while on the power play and then shorthanded midway through the period. The Hawks came back on that same power play with Miles Koules notching his 8th of the season, which opened a two goal advantage.

With a minute left, the Rockets pulled their goaltender and the Hawks had several chances at the open net, but went wide as they shot from their own side of center. With each shot, the Hawks would take an icing call which would bring faceoffs back into their own zone. After a few of those, the Rockets were able to finally convert with just 25 seconds left on the clock. The remaining time seemed to drag on forever, but the Hawks hung on and won 4-3 which gave Kelowna their first loss in regulation on home ice. 

With the series against the Rockets now over and the Hawks taking six of eight points, they return home tied for third place in the US Division with Spokane Chiefs, though the Chiefs have 5 games in hand. 

This week, the Hawks will battle the Victoria Royals and then the Daylight Classic game versus Kootenay Ice on Black Friday before another 3 game road trip to Kennewick where the Booster Club will be to cheer the team on followed by Victoria and Vancouver. 

Ice Chips: The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club collected several barrels of food for the Sunshine Division Food Pantry at the last home game and will be collecting clothing, blankets and other items as part of "Keeping Portland Warm" on Sunday, December 7 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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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