As frustrated as the Portland Winterhawks made the Spokane Chiefs in the 2-0 win for Portland in Spokane on Saturday, the Chiefs equalled the frustration last night with a 3-0 win at the MC to end the Hawks five game winning streak.
Four straight power plays in the first period gave Spokane the momentum, scoring once, eve though the Hawks killed off a full two minute two-man advantage for the Chiefs.
The real turning point came in the second period when it looked like the Hawks had evened the score on a rebound goal by Luke Walker of a Ty Rattie entry shot, but referee Colby Smith ruled that Walker was in the crease and waved off the goal. Spokane went the other way off the next faceoff, forced a turnover and Mitch Wahl set up Kyle Beach for their insurance goal just 14 seconds after the Hawks had the apparent tying goal waived off.
I watched the video this morning and from the angle, it sure didn’t appear that Walker impeded James Reid in the blue paint as it looked like Walker was to the side of Reid and reached in front of him to tip the puck home. Smith was behind the goal line and from the video angle, it looked like he had to look through the net as well as Jared Cowen and Reid to see where Walker was positioned.
There is no guarantee that if the goal had stood that the outcome would have been different, but you never know.
I thought both goaltenders played well, but Reid certainly responded after a couple poor outings to backstop the Chiefs and earn the shutout on the night.
Next up, the Hawks take on the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday, the first game of the season in the Rose Garden. When you look at the Giants roster, gone are the big names from years past – Sexsmith, Blum, Regner, Shira, Kane, Wright and others – but they continue to produce, leading the B.C. Division with a record of 11-4-1-2, good for 25 points in 18 games.
Craig Cunningham leads the offense with 26 points in 18 games, but they are a balanced team up front, scoring by committee most nights.
Their defense is young, but they are getting great production from 16 year old David Musil and overage Ryan Funk. Add in Kevin Connauton and they have a formidable group on the blue line.
Jamie Tucker is the #1 guy in the nets, posting 2.62 and .900 save percentage in 15 games. His back-up Brendan Jensen has better numbers at 1.83 and .915 in just four appearances.
Derrick Pouliot (pictured left), the Hawks 1st overall selection in this past Bantam Draft, as well as three other Hawks prospects took part in the Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup this past weekend in Blackfalds, AB.
Pouliot’s Team Saskatchewan finished third in the four team tournament, knocking off Team BC for the bronze medal.
The Hawk prospect that stole the show was Brendan Leipsic, the diminutive forward from Manitoba, was leading all scorers after three days and while I haven’t seen the official numbers following the event, it appears that he finished with 3-4-7 in four games as his team took home the Silver after falling to the host Alberta team in the Championship game.
Leipsic was named to the tournament all-star team for his efforts.
Taylor Leier also played for Saskatchewan and had 2-1-3 (unofficial) in 4 games while Pouliot had 1-2-3 (unofficial) in 4 games.
Reece Wilcox played for team BC and (unofficially) didn’t hit the scoresheet in the tournament.
Congrats to Taylor Peters for a successful start to his stint in the BCHL after being assigned to the Penticton Vees last week. Peters posted 1-3-4 in two games, with his goal coming short-handed.
Also, congrats to former Hawk Ryan Kerr, who is showing some goal-scoring ability after potting four goals in his last three games, including an OT winner. Kerr has 5-5-10 playing with the Spruce Grove Saints in the AJHL.
That’s it for now…
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