Feeling Envious…and some stats…

After nearly two weeks since the Winter Hawks final game of the 2008-09 season, I am reaching the point where I’m envious of my WHL broadcasting brethren that are still working, calling playoff games for their respective teams.

It’s been three years since the Hawks took part in a postseason contest, ending on an Easter Sunday in Vancouver in April of 2006.  Dean Vrooman, John Kirby and I made that trek together in Scooter’s small SUV in what would turn out to be Scooter’s last postseason appearance behind the mic.

We all know that the Hawks, if they continue on their growth pattern, will return to the postseason eventually, hopefully as soon as the 2009-10 season and I am looking forward to calling playoff games for the Hawks.  I did work a couple playoff games for Shaw TV a couple years ago and then did one broadcast with Regan Bartel and the Kelowna Rockets last year, but it isn’t the same as when your team is involved.

I may make some games in Round 2 of this years playoffs, depending on work and family schedules.  So far, Round 1 has shown that the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is greater this year than in years past with four series being four game sweeps in the opening round.

There are two series that are even after four games (with Everett and Tri City playing game four tonight). I believe that Saskatoon will prevail over Lethbridge in the first one and the other is a tougher call.  The Medicine Hat/Swift Current series was the biggest coin flip of the first round.  Personally, I select Medicine Hat as I will always pull for a team with Shaun Clouston on the bench rather than one with Dean Chynoweth…old rivalries die hard, ya’ know?  He’s still a Thunderbird in my eyes…while Clouston will always be a Winter Hawk.

I see Spokane and Tri City advancing to face Vancouver and Kelowna respectively in the second round in the West…those should be some good battles.   If the East prevails like I predict, it will be Calgary taking on Medicine Hat with Saskatoon facing Brandon…more good battles…I’ll be watching as much as possible on WHL TV.

Some stats to chew on…

In the WHL in 2009-10, there were a total of 653 players who played at least one game in the league…71 players born in 1988, 141 born in 1989, 156 born in 1990, 149 born in 1991, 107 born in 1992, 29 born in 1993.

For the 653 players, they combined for:

30,036 Games Played

5,082 Goals

8,532 Assists

13,605 Points

27,108 Penalty Minutes

1,533 (30.2%) of the goals were scored on the power play.

221 (4.4%) of the goals were scored while short-handed.

For the Winter Hawks, there were these numbers of note:

– Chris Francis’ 67 points tied him for 12th amongst all 1989 born players (141 players in total) in points.  His 46 assists were 9th overall amongst 1989 born players.

– Luke Walker’s 52 points placed him 16th amongst all 1990 born players (156 players in total) in points.  His 29 goals was 7th amongst 1989 born players.

– Killian Hutt’s 35 points placed him 23rd amongst all 1991 born players (149 players in total) in points.

– Brad Ross’ 26 points placed him 11th amongst all 1992 born players (107 players in total) in points.  His 119 penalty minutes were the most by any 1992 born player.

– Troy Rutkowski’s 15 points were 2nd overall amongst all 1992 born defensemen.  His 6 goals were the most by any 1992 born defensemen in the WHL.

– Radim Valchar’s 41 points were tied for the 4th best for all European imports of any age in the WHL.  (Milan Kytnar, SAS, 64 pts; Bostjan Golicic, CAL, 56 pts; Zdenek Okal, MH, 47 pts; Stepan Novotny, KEL, 41 pts).

That’s it for now…

Ehrhardt a Moose; Sauer Called Up…

ehrhardt-travis-mugPortland Winter Hawk Team Captain Travis Ehrhardt has signed an Amateur Tryout Option contract with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.

The Moose are the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL.

Ehrhardt is eligible to return as an overage next season for Portland, and with that fact, the Moose could only sign him to an ATO instead of a full contract.  Ehrhardt is eligible to be drafted by any team in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft to be held in June.

It will be interesting to see how much ice time Ehrhardt receives down the stretch for the Moose who lead the AHL’s Western Conference with a record of 46-19-0-6.

Either way, it will be great experience for Ehrhardt who had a look-see at the Detroit Red Wings rookie camp prior to last season.

Congratulations to Michael Sauer for being recalled to the New York Rangers.  Sauer could make his debut tonight for the Blueshirts.

It would be nice to see a Sauer to Brandon Dubinsky set-up like we saw a lot in Portland for the Rangers tomorrow night.

Johnston To Coach Team Canada…

mj-podiumHockey Canada has announced that Portland Winter Hawks General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston has been named the head coach for Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team for the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Canada, the defending champions, open play April 9 in Fargo, North Dakota, against Germany.

The full press release can be found at Hockey Canada’s Web site:

http://www.hockeycanada.ca/index.php/ci_id/60732/la_id/1.htm

Hawks Select First…

In a twist of fate, the Portland Winter Hawks have won the WHL Draft Lottery and will own the first overall selection in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft to be held in Edmonton on Thursday, April 30.

Last year, the Hawks finished last overall in the WHL, but lost the first overall selection to the Red Deer Rebels. This year, Moose Jaw had the worst record and they will pick second after the Hawks select first.

Each subsequent round, Moose Jaw will have the first selection and the Winter Hawks will have the second selection.

This will be the first year of drafts for the Hawks new management team led by GM Mike Johnston, Asst. GM Travis Green, Director of Player Personnel Garry Davidson and Head Scout Grant Armstrong.

Portland/Seattle Highlights…

Here are the nine goals scored by the Hawks on 3/13/09 vs. Seattle…enjoy…(forgive the music…I originally had Rush on there, but YouTube wouldn’t allow it because of their copyright laws)…

WHL Draft Lottery…

The WHL Bantam Draft Lottery will be held on Wednesday (as in tomorrow).

Once the results are made public, there should be an announcement on www.whl.ca and www.winterhawks.com.

The Season Wraps…

It was a long season…but it went by so fast…

When the clock struck 00:00 last night at the Memorial Coliseum, the 2008-09 season for the Portland Winter Hawks came to a close with a 4-3 loss to the Chilliwack Bruins.

My original thought was to do a lengthy post mortum on the season with a lot of mind-numbing stats but I just don’t have the energy right now.  Being a broadcaster for a team that has won 30 games in two years isn’t easy.  It is more of a mental drain than a physical one and the last month has been especially mentally draining with some long bus hours and not many days at home.

I had a number of people ask me the past couple of days if I was ready for the season to end…my answer was yes, but I’d rather be preparing for a first round playoff match-up.  I am definitely ready to spend weekends at home…

As the season ends, it is time to do a bunch of “thank you’s”…

– To Vicki and Aiden…you guys know what you mean to me and the patience you have while I’m rolling around the Pacific Northwest on a bus can never be thanked enough.  I am very lucky to have both of you in my corner and I hope you don’t get sick of me over the next five months.

– To Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Kyle Gustafson…thanks for providing me the access I need to do my job and for being open and honest in our discussions.  I look forward to a full season with you all as you continue to drive this team in the right direction.

– To Rich Campbell and Rob Gagne…thanks for the great discussions and many laughs we shared on the road and in the locker room this season.  You are true professional’s at what you do and the Winter Hawks are lucky to have you on board.

– To Rich Kromm, Brian Pellerin and Innes Mackie…I miss having all three of you around the rink and on road trips.  It was not an easy time to start this season and all three of you never let it show in your work and you always did your jobs with pride and dedication.  Thanks for being who you are and I wish you all success in your post Hawk careers.

– To Bill Gallacher, Doug Piper and the entire Business Operations Staff…thanks for making me feel such a large part of the organization.  The wheels are rolling in the right direction and I have confidence that you all will steer the team to success.

– To Dean Vrooman and John Kirby…you two showed me the ropes at this broadcasting gig and I would never be where I am without your help.  We never did get the three of us together on a broadcast this year like we discussed…something we have to do in 2009-10.  Our broadcasts together were always full of laughs (mostly behind the scenes) and they were some of the best times, win or lose…thanks again for giving me my break in broadcasting.

– To Mark Ertle…you can attest that being a broadcaster for a team that only wins 30 games in two years is hard.  Thanks for your enthusiasm and efforts…they are greatly appreciated.

– To Mike Schacker, Zak Travis, Jason Huth and Nate Corbett…the folks running the board at the KKAD studio.  We had some trying times this year with technical issues, but we always made it on the air.  Thanks for the hard work and for being there and keeping Winter Hawks hockey on the air!

– To the players…while it would have been nice with more wins, it was never boring.  It was a pleasure to watch you all develop and mature and I look forward to another year on the bus with the boys in 2009-10.

– To the parents and families of the players…I’ve said it a lot…without your love and quidance, there would be no Winter Hawks or WHL.  It isn’t easy to let your children move from home to chase their dreams.  I’ve got the pleasure of knowing most, if not all, of you over the past few years.  Thanks for the compliments that you send my way…you guys are why I do what I do.

– Lastly…to the fans, listeners and readers of the blog…I know you get frustrated at times…so do I.  Your passion is what keeps the team alive and without you, the team would cease to exist.  Keep the faith…I have a feeling that in the not so distant future, the past three losing seasons will be long forgotten.

With the season coming to an end, the blog will continue but the posts will be less frequent (some will say that they have been less frequent lately…and I can’t argue with that…so don’t bother posting it in the comments…OK?).

The best way to keep tabs of any new posts is to subscribe to the RSS feed by clicking on the button on this page.

Cindi asked about dates for the Bantam Lottery Pick, the Bantam Draft and the Import Draft…I know that the Bantam Draft is a bit earlier than normal (April 30) but I’m not sure on the others.  The Lottery should be in the next week or so (possibly Thursday?) and the Import Draft will be in late June.

Thanks again for reading…

I’m out…

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