After using superior special teams to take a 4-1 lead last night at the Memorial Coliseum, the Portland Winterhawks held off the Brandon Wheat Kings and escape with a 5-4 shootout win to extend the winning streak to four games and their overall record to 12-5-0-0.
Kurtis Mucha, in relief of Ian Curtis who left with a shoulder injury near the end of the first period, stopped all three Brandon shooters in the shootout (including a dandy pad save on Matt Calvert on the final shot, pictured above) while Chris Francis slid home the winner, ala Peter Forsberg, to get the Hawks the win.
It looked like it would be an easier two points as the Hawks scored three times on their first four power plays to take the 4-1 lead, but Brandon got a couple breaks on shots by Jay Fehr that bounced in off Winterhawks to make it 4-3 at the end of two and then a power play goal by Brayden Schenn evened it early in the third.
I’ve read some reports that said the Hawks didn’t play very well for the second half of the game, but I would argue that the team they faced had a lot to do with that. Brandon, despite their deceiving 8-6-0-2 record, may very well be the best team the Hawks have faced so far this season. They have the two scoring lines in Schenn/Calvert/Glennie and Lewadniuk/Fehr/Rajala and one of the most dominant d-pairs in Colby Robak and Alexander Urbom.
Jacob DeSerres played fairly well for Brandon, but I’m sure he’s tired of seeing Portland this season as 15 of the 20 goals surrendered by DeSerres this season have been scored by Portland.
Next up, the Hawks will round out the first quarter of the season, by playing Game #18 on Saturday, Halloween night, in Spokane against the Chiefs. With a victory, the Hawks would finish the quarter with a 13-5-0-0 record for 26 points. Only five times in their history have the Hawks finished with more than 26 points in 18 games:
1982-83 — 15-3-0, 30 points (won Memorial Cup)
1993-94 — 15-3-0, 30 points (lost in Conference Final)
1997-98 — 15-3-0, 30 points (won Memorial Cup)
1980-81 – 13-4-1, 27 points (lost in Conference Final)
1988-89 – 13-4-1, 27 points (lost in WHL Final)
Also, in 1985-86, the Hawks went 13-5-0-0 for 26 points and lost in the Conference Final.
A reminder, the radio broadcast on Saturday will be tape delayed until after the conclusion of the Washington State/Notre Dame football game on Freedom 970 KCMD…the football game starts at 4:30 PM PDT, so, hopefully the game won’t be delayed very long, but it will be heard in its entirety.
After that, the Hawks get the next five games at home against Spokane, Vancouver, Seattle, Kelowna and Chilliwack.
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