All I Want For Christmas…

Is two more wins…

The Portland Winter Hawks will get that chance this weekend when they finish out their pre-Christmas schedule with home games against the Prince George Cougars at 7:30 on Friday night and the Medicine Hat Tigers at 7:00 on Saturday.  Both games will be in the Glass Palace.

The Cougars are 2-1-0-0 since replacing Head Coach Drew Schoneck with the tandem of former Assistant Coach Wade Klippenstein and GM Dallas Thompson (although the most recent game sheets still show Schoneck as the Head Coach…maybe he is coaching remotely?).

One thing for certain, the Cougars have been scoring a bunch (16 goals in their last three games) and giving up a bunch (15 goals in their last three games), so Friday should be interesting.

The Cougars will be without their top scorer, and recent Tampa Bay Lightning signee, Dana Tyrell, as he will be trying out for the Team Canada World Jr. Team.  Tyrell has 19-21-40 in 30 games this season.  Tyrell is also a league worst -22 on the season.

Maybe the Hawks can get the power play going against the Cougars, who gave up four power play goals to the Swift Current Broncos last night in PG.  The Cougars have killed off 8 of their last 13 power plays against in the last three games (61.5%).  The Cougars have been good on the power play the last three games, going 5 for 15 (33.3%).

For the Hawks after going 3 for 13 (23.1%) in two games in mid-November on the power play, they have managed just 2 for 38 (5.2%) since.  Both of the power play goals came in one game (11/22 @ Seattle), so the Hawks have gone scoreless on the power play in nine of their last ten games.

The penalty kill has picked up for the Hawks, killing 29 of 36 (80.1%) in the last ten games, and an even better 12 of 13 (92.3%) in the last five games.  In the first 26 games, the Hawks only had three games where they did not give up a power play goal, in the last five they have shut down the opponents power play four times.

Saturday night brings the Medicine Hat Tigers to town and a couple of familiar faces.  Of course, there is former Hawk Captain and Assistant Coach Shaun Clouston and there is also 18 year old forward Tristan King, whom the Hawks traded to the Tigers in return for Killian Hutt.

The trade comparison:

King — 23 GP, 5-11-16, 12 PIM, +9

Hutt — 31 GP, 7-10-17, 8 PIM, -12

Fairly even, but considering Medicine Hat has outscored Portland 117 to 62, it makes Hutt’s contributions more noticable as he has been in on 27.4% of Portland goals while King has been in on 13.7% of Tiger goals.  Plus, Hutt is a year younger.

The Tigers are third in the Eastern Conference, 18-9-3-3 – 42 points.  They too will be missing a key player due to Team Canada World Jr. tryouts, as NHL First Round pick Tyler Ennis will be trying to make the Canada roster.  Ennis has 15-21-36 in 31 games for the Tigers.

It’s official, the Winter Hawks will need to play one more game in Key Arena on December 27th.  The first game at the new Showare Center in Kent won’t be until January 3rd, when the ‘Birds host Everett.

I had heard from people in the Seattle organization that this would most likely be the case, but I was hoping (and so were they) that they would move the game to Kent. 

The Hawks first home game will be on January 24th and the Winter Hawks Boosters are working on a bus trip for that game.  Go to their table at the home games for more information.

The Hawks will have eight of their prospects taking part in the Mac’s Tournament in Calgary just after Christmas:

Brayden Holloway, Matt Maleschuk, Zachary Rassell, Ty Rattie, Matt Saunderson, Jessie Siemens, Tayler Thompson and Tyler Wotherspoon.

For a complete list of all WHL players taking part in the prestigous tournament, visit Alan Caldwell’s “Small Thoughts at Large” blog in the links section.

That’s it for now…

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