Nino! Nino! Nino!

Nino Niederreiter scored twice and set up another to lead Switzerland to a 4-1 win over Slovakia this afternoon to propel the Swiss into the Medal Round and ensuring that the Swiss will remain in the big dance next season in Buffalo.

Niederreiter scored in the second and then got the game-winner early in the third before assisting on the insurance marker later in the final frame.

He now has 3 goals and 3 assists for six points in his last two games and he has been a part of six of the 11 goals the Swiss have scored in the tournament.

Switzerland will play in the quarter-final round on Saturday against the #2 seed from the “B” pool, which could be any of the Russia/Finland/Czech teams.  That game will be seen on the NHL Network at 5:00 PST.

Congrats Nino!

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Worth The Wait…

To be honest…I had my doubts that the game last night would be played.  There were just too many players, and officials, that had trouble making it to the Rose Garden.  But…every one persevered and made it to the arena and while it was nearly two hours late starting, the game itself proved to be worth the wait.

Oliver Gabriel stepped onto the line with Brad Ross and Ryan Johansen for a second consecutive game and they proved once again that the Spokane Chiefs just don’t have a line that can shut them down when they are rolling.

Gabriel notched the first of his injury-shortened season in the first and then Ross and Johansen took over scoring the final three goals, including the winner with just over two minutes remaining on just a determined play.  Ross threw it to the net from a bad angle and Johansen jammed home the rebound to send the 1,000 or so faithful that actually made it to the game home happy.

Once again the game ended with some nasty play as Kyle Beach took a five minute major for slashing at the buzzer and will probably earn himself a suspension for the action.   Ross and his nemesis Mitch Wahl once again exchanged pleasantries after the final horn and those two combined for 1 goal, 6 assists and 10 penalty minutes between them.  It was the second consecutive Gordie Howe Hat Trick for Ross who has now taken over the team lead in points with 43.

I know it would be hard for one team to have four players at the NHL/CHL Prospect Game in January, but the omission of Ross from that game is nearly unjustifiable.

The win snapped a six game losing streak on home ice for the Hawks against the Chiefs, with the last win being the 3-2 shootout win (the Matt Schmermund behind the back special) in the final game of the 2007-08 season at the Memorial Coliseum.

Lastly, the win improves the Hawks home record on games played on December 29th to 5-0-0-0 in their history…(on the road on December 29th, the Hawks are 1-7-0-0).

The Winterhawks will be well represented at the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in February.

Brenden Morrow was named today to the Canadian squad and he will go up against Marian and Marcel Hossa as well as Richard Zednik who will all play for Team Slovakia.

We will find out soon if Paul Gaustad is named to the U.S. roster, although recent injuries may hurt his chances.

In tournament news…

Luke Walker and Team USA are now 3-0 in pool play at the World U20 Champsionships and they will face off against Team Canada to see who will be the top seed from their pool on Thursday afternoon.

Walker hasn’t hit the scoresheet yet, but had a few good chances in the 12-1 win over Latvia yesterday.

Nino Niederreiter and the Swiss will look to get their first win of the tournament later today against the Latvians.

Ty Rattie scored one for Team Pacific, but a five goal explosion by the Russians in the third period knock off Pacific 6-2 despite being outshot 48-28.   Tyler Wotherspoon didn’t hear the scoresheet for Team Pacific.

That’s it for now…

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Update #3…

We have a start time…warm-ups at 8:15, game start at 8:45…I have no idea if Livestream will work…but I’ll be doing audio and we’ll be sending them video…

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Update #2…

Obviously, the game is delayed…due to the weather, we don’t have a board op at the radio station…meaning no game on 970 tonight.

But…the WHL is offering a free livestream view of the game and I will be providing audio for that…no pre-game and limited between periods and post-game.  No commercials…just bare-bone broadcasting for the viewing audience.

Game time hasn’t been determined yet…stay tuned for that….

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Game Update…

With the weather, obviously, people are having trouble getting to the arena…might have a late start.

I’m here…but Todd won’t be…

Spokane is here, they came into town yesterday…

Stay tuned…

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Tuesday Update…

The Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs play the second half of their home-and-home series tonight at the Rose Garden and we’ll see how it plays out after the way the game ended on Sunday night with a multi-fight situation.  It will be the last time to take aggression out on each other for a while as they don’t face each other again until March 5th.

So far, no discipline has been announced regarding suspensions from the incident and honestly, there really shouldn’t be, in my opinion.

Brad Ross is the guy leading the charge for the Hawks in most departments lately, but offensively, he has put up 8 points in his last 5 games and is playing his normal physical, agitating self.  His unbridled enthusiasm caught in the picture above is contagious and I would think that being snubbed for the NHL/CHL Prospect Game may help entice Ross to work just that much harder.

Chris Francis is nearing some milestones as he is four games shy of 250 career games played as a Hawk.  If Francis plays the remainder of the games in the regular season, he will have played 279 games in a Hawk sweater, putting him 7th all-time for games played.

He is also two points away from 150, and he is now 61st in career points, moving ahead of Cam Neely in the rankings (although Neely’s 146 points came in just 91 games).  Francis is now tied with Bob Foglietta, Brent Fleetwood and Josh Olson on the all-time points list with Curt Brandolini next on the list at 150 points.

Lastly, Franny needs seven more assists to reach the 100 assist mark.  When he reaches that mark, he will be the 50th career Hawk to reach 100 assists in their career.

Ty Rattie had a good start to the World U17 Championships in Timmins, ON, as in the lone exhibition game for Team Pacific, Rattie was in on all three goals in a 4-3 shootout loss to Team Sweden.

Rattie set up the first goal, and then scored the final two for Pacific.  He scored the tying goal in the opening minute of the third period while on the power play.

Team Pacific starts the tournament for real this morning, with a game against Team Russia at 11:00 AM PST.  Russia lost their exhibition game to Team Ontario 9-1 yesterday.

Tyler Wotherspoon is also on the Pacific roster but did not hit the scoresheet yesterday.

Lastly,  on New Years Eve, my partner Todd Vrooman and his Dad, the Scooter, will be hosting an on-ice post-game show with interviews with coaches and players and they want your input.

You can post questions in the comments section below or you can email questions to hockey@winterhawks.com or to my email at hawksblog@comcast.net.   Please put your first name and city on the question so they can recognize you when asking the questions.

The questions can be for the players, coaches or the Vrooman’s or about hockey in general…

See you at the RG later tonight!

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Hawks Accomplish a Team First…

For the first time in Portland Winterhawk history, the Hawks go perfect in Spokane, defeating the Chiefs in come-from-behind fashion 5-4 on Sunday night at the Spokane Arena.

Jacob Berglund, although he wasn’t named a star in the building, scored the tying goal and set up the winner for the Hawks and the Hawks start off the post-holiday schedule with a huge win and they are now 14-8-0-0 on the road.

With the win, the Hawks go 4-0-0-0 in Spokane for the season, doing something that had never been done before by any of the Hawks teams.   They had two seasons where they went 4-1-0, but never went perfect before now.

Now they just need to find a way to get a win at home…they get the chance on Tuesday which, based on the way this one ended, should be a dandy.

Brad Ross got the Gordie Howe hat trick on the night and was named first star, much to the chagrin of those that stuck around to watch the presentations.  Ross may have played his best game as a Hawk and the team followed his lead.

The game ended with a mini line brawl…something that can help this Hawk team unify as we officially enter the stretch run towards the playoffs.

We are rolling down Highway 395 on our way to Kennewick and then onward to Portland…bus rides are always sweeter after a victory…but this one feels just a bit sweeter with the way the victory was accomplished.

More tomorrow…

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  • Questions?

    Got a question for the broadcast crew? You can email questions to hawksradio@gmail.com and if you include your name and city, we just may answer them on the air!