Fun Night…

The Bench and the Bears...

It didn’t take long for the Portland Winterhawks to bring the rain of bears from the Rose Garden crowd on Saturday night as Spencer Bennett scored on a wrist shot from the right face-off circle just under three minutes into the 5-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The play was set up by 16 year old Seth Swenson who made a nice play to hold the puck in and to register his first career WHL point, one that I’m sure he’ll remember.

The Hawks never trailed in the game, but Seattle stayed close all night to add drama and make it a fun night to be in the big barn with a large crowd and an electric atmosphere.

We had a few glitches in the press box, one self-inflicted (check the power cord first, you moron) and I believe that we eventually got the game on 98.1, but not sure how many hung around on their radios to hear it.

Nino Niederreiter continued his hot week, scoring a late second period power play goal and finishing the four game in five night stretch with six goals, two assists for eight points.  He should certainly be a consideration for the WHL Player of the Week honors.

Don’t look now, but Riley Boychuk is quietly producing most every night as he now has points in eight of his last nine games and his goals have been timely.  He has nine goals on the season with four of the nine being game winners, including his third period marker last night set up by a tremendous forechecking shift with his linemates Stefan Schneider and Tayler Jordan.  Boychuk is just one point shy of his career high set last season, having played 38 fewer games.

Speaking of Schneider, he now has a three game point streak, posting 2-2-4 during that stretch.  He also has points in four of his last five games.

One of my favorite sights...

For Seattle, I really am impressed with the way that they have turned their game around since early in the season.  After the way the Hawks dismantled them in their first two meetings, I wasn’t sure how many wins Seattle would get.  Now, I think they will make the playoffs and the U.S. Division will get all five teams into the post-season in the Western Conference.

One last statistical note…the game last night was the 1,200th home game in the history of the Portland Winterhawks.   Portland is 729-396-61-10-4 at home for a winning percentage of .639 all-time in the Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Garden.

Oh wait…one more obscure statistical note…of the 10,390 goals the Hawks have scored in their history, 1,850 have been scored against Seattle…

The Hawks are now off until next Friday when the Everett Silvertips visit the Rose Garden at 7:30.

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Hawks Return To Form…

 

Group Hug...

 

First off…thanks to Mick White at Kent Valley Sports for the photos…

The Portland Winterhawks, after a tough first period, returned to the form that we saw earlier in the season as they came from behind to defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-4 at the ShoWare Center in Kent, WA.

The Hawks were led by Nino Niederreiter, who scored twice and added two helpers for a four point night.  Nino now has five goals and seven points in his last three games and is making himself a candidate for the WHL Player of the Week.

Taylor Aronson also chipped in with his first two goals of his WHL career, both on power plays and both in tight on Seattle netminder Calvin Pickard, including the game winner in the third period.

Aronson has been a steady, stay at home type, for most of the season being paired with Troy Rutkowski.  On the power play, the Hawks have moved him down low on the play with the umbrella set-up and last night Aronson was in the right place at the right time for the first one and then made a premier move in the corner to free himself to drive to the front and bang it home.

 

Arny celebrates his first gino in the dub...

 

The only downside to the game was the continued struggles of the penalty kill unit as Seattle was able to score two goals on three opportunities (one on a five-on-three) in the first period to take a 3-1 lead after one period.

The ‘Birds extended the lead to 4-1 after a questionable penalty shot call for Jeremy Schappert.  Schappert, who now has a ten game point streak working, made no mistake on the penalty shot to give his team a three goal cushion.

After that, the Hawks got a big goal from Jacob Berglund on an odd-man rush, set up by the newest Hawk Eric Doyle, and Aronson’s power play tap in.

The third period was, after the Hawks took the lead, desperation time for Portland and they continuosly threw themselves in front of entry shots, the best maybe being Riley Boychuk’s sliding block of a Sena Acolatse’s laser, and they helped preserve Ian Curtis’ eighth win of the season.

Doyle was good in his Hawks debut, posting the one assist and a +3 on the night.  He showed a cannon of a point shot and poise in his own zone, exactly what you’d expect from a veteran of 269 WHL games.

Lastly, it was good to see Tayler Jordan in his two scraps in the second period against Scott Ramsay and Mitch Elliot.  They were two of the best scraps of the year as it was lean back and throw ’em and it helped Portland hold onto the momentum after scoring twice in the second period.

The same two teams will do battle in the Teddy Bear Toss game at the Rose Garden…hope it has the same intensity…

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Portland @ Seattle…Rosters…

No Luke Walker tonight…one game suspension for the elbow major on Wednesday (don’t get me started on it)…

Portland:

Goalies:

Ian Curtis (starter), Mac Carruth

Defense Pairs:

Brett Ponich – Eric Doyle

Troy Rutkowski – Taylor Aronson

Joe Morrow – Daniel Johnston

Forward Lines:

Riley Boychuk – Stefan Schneider – Tayler Jordan

Brad Ross – Ryan Johansen – Nino Niederreiter

Spencer Bennett – Chris Francis – Ty Rattie

Gasper Kopitar – Jacob Berglund – Seth Swenson

Scratches:

Oliver Gabriel (spleen), Luke Walker (suspension), Tyler Wotherspoon (numbers)

Seattle:

Goalies:

Calvin Pickard (starter) – Kyle Jahraus

Defense Pairs:

Scott Ramsay – Brenden Dillon

Jeremy Schappert – Stefan Warg

Erik Fleming – Brad Haber

Forward Lines:

Sena Acolatse – Luke Lockhart – Jonathan Parker

Prab Rai – Lindsay Nielsen – Charles Wells

Chance Lund – Brendan Rouse – Colin Jacobs

Mitch Elliot – Tyler Alos – Mikhail Sentyurin

Scratches:

Steve Chaffin (concussion), Brenden Silvester (back), Brennan Tutt (numbers), Tanner Muth (numbers)

 

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Hawks Acquire Doyle…

The Portland Winterhawks continued to evolve their roster by acquiring 20 year old defenseman Eric Doyle from the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for 19 year old defenseman Travis Bobbee.

Doyle started his career as a 16 year old with the Everett Silvertips before being traded to the Broncos in his second season.  He has amassed career totals of:

268 games played, 34-123-157, 153 PIM’s, +36

Doyle will wear #3 for the Hawks.

Bobbee came over to the Hawks in the big trade with Lethbridge in November of 2008 along with Jacob and Nick Dietrich and Ryan Kerr.  He appeared in 141 games as a Hawk, scoring 9-30-39 with 52 PIM’s.  His game on Wednesday night in Kennewick was the 201st of his WHL career.

Bobbee will now play closer to his home in Arbourg, MB.

I wish Travis and his family the best of luck as he continues his WHL career…

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Happy Thanksgiving…

Just home from a long trip to Tri City…nothing good to say about that one (although nice to see Stefan Schneider pot a couple)…so, I’ll leave you with…
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Reddin A Raider…

The trade winds continued to blow through Portland this morning when the Winterhawks dealt 19 year old forward Colin Reddin to the Prince Albert Raiders for a 4th Round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft in 2010.

Reddin had appeared in 24 games this season, posting 3-3-6 with 26 penalty minutes.

In his career with the Hawks, he played in 119 games, scoring 19-26-45 with 93 PIM’s.

The native of Corona Del Mar, CA, joined the Hawks halfway through the 2007-08 season from the U.S. National Development Team and then appeared in all 72 games last season for Portland.

The move gets the Hawks down to 23 players (14 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goalies) and opens up room for players like Seth Swenson and Gasper Kopitar to get more ice time.

I want to wish Colin the best of luck with the Raiders…

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Trade Value…

The term “trade value” gets thrown around a lot and one of the things that I’ve noticed since moving out of the general fan base and into the broadcast position is that the fans interpretation of “trade value” and actual “trade value” are often nowhere close to each other.

Please note that this not a criticism nor an attempt to justify or explain the reasoning behind the deal that sent Kurtis Mucha to Kamloops for a fan perceived low value of a 4th round bantam pick in 2010.

To date, there have been eight trades in 2009-10 (according to the WHL Transactions page) involving 1989 born players, or overage players, they are:

Giffen Nyren to Calgary for a conditional 6th Rd. Pick in 2010

Kurtis Mucha to Kamloops for a 4th Rd. Pick in 2010

Dustin Donaghy to Lethbridge for a 6th Rd. Pick in 2010

Del Cowan to Calgary for a conditional 8th Rd. Pick in 2011

Milan Kytnar to Vancouver for a 3rd Rd. Pick in 2010

Linden Rowat to Lethbridge for a conditional 5th Rd. Pick in 2010

Chris Langkow to Everett for a 6th Rd. Pick in 2010 + a 3rd Rd. Pick in 2011

Radim Valchar to Lethbridge for a conditional 6th Rd. Pick in 2010

So…by looking at these deals, the 4th Round Pick in return for Mucha puts it in the top three returns for an overage player dealt (behind the 3rd rounder for Kytnar and the two picks for Langkow).

So far, the only draft picks that have been higher that have been traded is the 3rd rounder for Kytnar and the 2nd rounder that Tri City gave up for Eric Mestery (which, for some reason, is not listed on the WHL transactions page).

I guess to sum this up…Western Hockey League General Manager’s, for the most part, aren’t stupid.   They know that it would be foolish to give up a prospect or a younger roster player for a player in the final year of their WHL eligibility.

Portland didn’t have to trade Mucha as they were not over the limit on overage players, but with the addition of Mac Carruth, GM Mike Johnston said he wouldn’t keep three goaltenders on the roster for very long and he lived up to that comment by making the best deal he could.

Does it make it easier to swallow for long time fans who have a very emotional attachment to Kurtis Mucha?  Nope…and it shouldn’t be easy to swallow.

One of the great things about Junior Hockey is the connection between the players and the fans.   The fans get to know the players on a personal level as they are more approachable than professional athletes.   They see them at the pizza shows, autograph sessions and on the concourse when they are not playing.

The attachment to Mucha is maybe more so than any other player that has been traded for what has gone on in the five years he has been with the Hawks.  As I said before, he was the face of the organization and he was the most recognizable player on some very poor teams.

I am not saying that fans should like this trade or be happy about the outcome…I am just saying that what they may perceive as “trade value” isn’t really anywhere close to what the actual “trade value” of a player is.

That is reality and as the old saying goes, sometimes reality bites…

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