I guess you could call it an omen, but I had a feeling it was going to be one of those nights when the Portland Winterhawks shattered the glass behind the net in warm-ups. Turns out I was right as the Hawks dropped a 6-4 decision to the Chilliwack Bruins to end their five game road winning streak.
For those that aren’t aware, hockey teams are methodical by nature and they have a game-night routine – prior to the game and during warm-ups it is almost the same every night. When your warm-up is delayed for seven minutes while a pane of glass is repaired, it effects your rhythm and it looked like the Hawks were out of sync. It’s not an excuse, it is an observation.
Give Chilliwack credit…they continued their strong play and pressured the Hawks at every opportunity and they used their speed to create offensive chances. The duo of Ryan Howse and Roman Horak had their second straight tremendous game against Portland as they have combined for eight of the 11 goals scored by the Bruins against the Hawks in their two wins.
I normally shy away from commenting about officiating, but last nights game was one that had most people that I talked to scratching their heads on a number of calls and non-calls after the game. Graham Skilliter let four or five checks from behind go (for both teams) that would normally be called on most nights. It was probably not a good night to have Kevin Muench, the Director of Officiating for the WHL, in the press box next to me.
To me, the turning point of the game came in the final minute of the second period when Luke Walker fired wide on a two-on-one chance with Chris Francis. Chilliwack went the other way and Chris Collins snuck home a wrist shot from a bad angle past Ian Curtis to give the Bruins a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes. If Walker scores, I truly believe the Hawks go on to win the game.
Speaking of Curtis, even though he gave up six, I thought he made some spectacular saves including a highlite reel glove save on Howse on a short-handed breakaway early in the third. The Bruins did score two shorties in the game, after the Hawks had only give up one shortie in their first 24 games.
Lastly, I am a sucker for statistical anomalies and after the game I noticed that in games played on November 20 in Hawks history, the team is undefeated at home (9-0-0-0) and winless on the road (0-5-0-0).
Maybe the outcome was already fated to be…
Tonight,the Hawks take on the Vancouver Giants, who should be in a foul mood after losing their last two home games by a combined score of 11-1, at the Pacific Coliseum. Remember that the game will be broadcast on AM 1360 KUIK with the pre-game show starting at 6:40.
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