Portland 4 – Vancouver 3…

Photo Credit: http://www.whl.ca

Quite the finish last night in Vancouver…including the two big boys on the left dropping the mitts and throwing some haymakers.

The scenario was this…the Vancouver Giants had just scored on a three-man (yes, I said three-man) advantage with 34.5 seconds remaining on the clock to cut the Portland lead to 4-3.

At the ensuing face-off, you could tell there was a bit of confusion between the referee Jeff Ingram and the scorers table.  Ingram dropped the puck, but the scoreboard clock did not start.  Play continued until it was finally whistled dead.

I’ll let you be the judge…here is the final part of the game…from my stop watch, it appears close to 40 seconds run off once the puck is dropped and the whistle is blown which shows that Ingram and fellow referee Brett Iverson made the right call in saying the game was over despite the 4.7 seconds that showed on the clock.  Here is the video:

Oh, and I left in the Brett Ponich/Randy McNaught scrap at the end just for fun.

In the end, the game ended appropriately with the Hawks skating away with a 4-3 win despite all of the confusion in the building.

Not to be lost in all of this is the Hawks breakout second period where they exploded for four goals in 10:17 of game action, highlighted by two Brad Ross breakaways that he finished nicely.  And, it was too different finishes for Ross, the first a backhand roof shot and the second a top shelf wrister to the blocker side.  Both were incredibly placed shots.  Spencer Bennett and Ty Rattie continued their hot play to start the year as each chipped in a goal and Ross, Bennett and Rattie are tied for the team lead with three goals through three games.

Keith Hamilton played very solid once again and made his best save in the second period when the Hawks led 2-1.  The Giants created an odd-man rush on a 4 on 4 situation and Craig Cunningham set up Neil Manning all alone in front and Hamilton got just enough of it with the pad to keep it out.

The Hawks are now 2-1-0-0 heading into Saturday’s match up with Seattle where they will look to exact revenge for the 4-1 loss to the Thunderbirds in the season opener in Kent.

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Radio Streaming Issues…

Apparently there were some issues with the Internet steaming last night on Freedom 970 AM.  I was unaware of the issues while calling the game and there was no effect on the radio broadcast over the air.

Alpha Broadcasting has moved into a brand new building and last night was the first game that 970 had steamed from the new studio.

I have been assured that the issues will be corrected before our next broadcast on Sunday night.

Thanks for your patience…more on the game later today.

Portland 7 – Vancouver 2

Photo Credit - Brent Wojahn/Oregonian

You have to love the picture of Brendan Leipsic celebrating his first ever WHL goal…can you beat that smile?

And there were a lot of smiles to go around last night at the Rose Garden as the Portland Winterhawks ran over the Vancouver Giants 7-2 in the home opener.

The score was closer than the final outcome, with the Hawks holding a two goal lead with four minutes remaining, but three goals in quick succession increased the margin the victory in the end.

Leipsic’s goal was a big one for Portland, giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission after he found a loose puck in front of Derek Tendler and firing a high shot home in the final minute of the opening period.  The smallest guy on the roster (now officially 5’8 and 155 lbs) plays a big game as a 16 year old and will quickly become a fan favorite.

There were two other first career goals last night as 16 year old d-man Josh Hanson, with a little help from James Henry’s skate, scored his first late in the second period and Gasper Kopitar is now officially credited with the last goal, putting home a loose puck from the slot  to round out the scoring.

Spencer Bennett had two big goals for the Hawks, the first one on a great transition rush with Ty Rattie and Troy Rutkowski and then the first power play goal of the season for Portland to push the lead to 5-2.   Rattie added a goal of his own as his hot start to the season continues.

I mentioned on the air last night during the post-game show that my unsung hero of the night was Taylor Peters.  Peters went up against Craig Cunningham pretty much all night and while Cunningham did have one assist, Peters did a very nice job of shutting the top scorer down.  Peters also was very good in the face-off circle, which is key to shutting down top lines by not letting them gain possession of the puck.

In net, Keith Hamilton did a very nice job of playing aggressive and cutting angles.  He made 30 saves to get his second career WHL victory and should build his confidence moving forward.

Lastly…what about Brad Ross?  No post NHL training camp hangover for him…just a dominant performance using his speed to create havoc for the Giants blue line.  Neil Manning may still be spinning from the move that put him to the ice and Ross in alone for what turned out to be the game winner in the second period.   Ross also agitated, but played under control, drawing a couple minor penalties in the process.

In the end, it was a nice way to start the home season for the Hawks…the Giants don’t have to wait long to try and get revenge, as the same two teams meet tomorrow night in Vancouver.   Game time is 7:00 and the pre-game show will be on Freedom 970 AM at 6:40.

What? Me Worry?

Like just about any kid that grew up in the 70’s, I wasted a lot of my youth reading Mad Magazine for their movie spoofs and Spy vs. Spy amongst other things.  The cover always featured the following mascot, Alfred E. Neumann, who’s motto was “What? Me worry?”.

That’s pretty much my reaction after the Portland Winterhawks dropped their season opener in Kent by a 4-1 score to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday night.

It certainly isn’t the start that anyone associated with the team wanted or expected, but it is what it is.  To date, no team has gone 72-0-0-0, and no team has gone 0-72-0-0 in league history.  There are going to be losses, the key is how do the Hawks respond tonight in their home opener against Vancouver?

The Giants crushed the Chilliwack Bruins 9-4 in their home opener before falling 5-2 to Everett on Saturday night.  They feature two high end returning forwards in Craig Cunningham (97 pts in 2009-10) and Brendan Gallagher (41 goals in 2009-10) and they are getting good early production from Marek Tvrdon, a rookie import from Slovakia.

The Hawks did get some good news with the return of Riley Boychuk, Brett Ponich and Brad Ross from the NHL camps they were attending.  That leaves four players in pro camps, including Luke Walker, who was assigned to the Lake Erie Monsters AHL camp by Colorado.  Walker still hasn’t signed a contract and if he doesn’t he will return to Portland.  Oliver Gabriel is getting an extended look by Columbus and could earn a contract before he comes back.  And we all know about Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter…the proverbial “stay tuned” is all that we can offer until something is finalized by the Blue Jackets or Islanders on their status.

Boychuk, Ponich and Ross are all back in Portland and should be ready for action tonight against Vancouver.

With their returns, the Hawks have reassigned David Watt (who played on Saturday in Seattle) and Stephane Robidoux (saw preseason action) to their Junior A teams.

Game time is 7:00 at the Rose Garden…Todd Vrooman and I will be on Freedom 970 with our pre-game show at 6:40…

Friday Updates…

Here we are, a little over 24 hours away from the opening game of the 2010-11 WHL Regular Season for your Portland Winterhawks…sorry for the lack of posts lately…been crazy busy with work and getting ready for our first broadcast tomorrow night.

Some randoms…

First off, the Winterhawks announced the agreement for Alpha Broadcasting to carry Winterhawks hockey for the 2010-11 season.  Just like last year, the Hawks will be carried primarily on Freedom 970 AM with some games making their way to 95.5 The Game on the FM dial and KXL 750 AM as schedules permit.   There are two games in October that we will not be carrying on the radio due to scheduling conflicts but those games will have our audio on the WHL Web TV broadcast.  We will also work to ensure that our audio will be available in the building for those that want to tune in while watching the game.

Alpha is quickly becoming the pre-eminent sports broadcasting group in Portland with their coverage of the Portland Trail Blazers, the University of Oregon, Portland State University and the Portland Timbers this fall (as well, they covered the final season of the Portland Beavers) and it is great that the Winterhawks are part of that group.  We get great coverage and the stations signal strength is very strong in the Portland/Metro area.

Mike Schacker returns to run the board for most games as well and that is great for Todd Vrooman and I as he does a great job.

As the vast majority of the players are starting to trickle back to the dub from NHL Camps, the Hawks are still waiting for word on seven players who are still getting a look from the big clubs.

Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter will both continue to get a long look from their pro clubs and both could very well start the year in the NHL.  Johansen’s situation is a bit different as the Blue Jackets are scheduled to start the year in Europe and they leave around October 2nd.  If he makes the trip to Europe, he will be gone for eight days for sure.

Luke Walker scored in his first preseason game for Colorado and is making a case to stick in the minor pro system with the Avs.  Colorado will still need to sign Walker to a pro deal before he could play in the AHL and they have two years to sign him since he was just drafted this past June.

Oliver Gabriel is making some noise in Columbus as well and is slated to play in his second preseason game on Saturday night against Pittsburgh.  Gabriel scored in his first game and the Blue Jackets could sign him before the start of the season, but he would either have to come back to Portland or stay in Columbus.  I would expect Gabriel back before the Jackets leave for Europe next week.

Brett Ponich is getting a good look in St. Louis and as a signed player, he could stick around there for a bit.

Brad Ross in Toronto and Riley Boychuk in Buffalo are still in camps, but the news has been sporadic on those two.  Ross has yet to appear in a preseason game for the Leafs and Buffalo doesn’t play their first game until Saturday, I believe.

With the season starting tomorrow and with Mac Carruth (listed as week-to-week) and Ian Curtis not ready to go in net for Portland, the Hawks have brought in former Lethbridge Hurricane and Spokane Chief goaltender Michael Tadjdeh as an emergency call-up.  Tadjdeh, 19, was released by Spokane earlier in the preseason.

Tadjdeh has appeared in 41 career WHL games with a 17-19-0-0 record, 3.22 GAA, .883 save % with two shutouts.  He will be dressed for the game tomorrow night in Seattle and after that, we’ll have to wait and see.  He will wear #29.

Keith Hamilton will be the other goaltender tomorrow night in Seattle.

Seattle will have a much different look tomorrow night after making some trades to bring in some veterans – acquiring Travis Toomey from Saskatoon, Travis Bobbee from Swift Current.  The Birds will have revenge on their minds on Saturday after dropping all 12 games to Portland in 2009-10.  They have everyone, including goaltender Calvin Pickard, back from pro camp and they will have one game under their belt as they start their season tonight in Everett.

Taylor Aronson could be ready to go tomorrow night, a bit ahead of schedule after having shoulder surgery in the off-season.  The Hawks defense will only be missing Brett Ponich tomorrow night.

That’s it for now…pre-game show tomorrow night at 6:40 on Freedom 970 from the ShoWare Center in Kent…

Final Preseason Stats…

Here are the final preseason stats for the Portland Winterhawks…where they went 4-0-0-2:

Scoring:

2 – Troy Rutkowski — 3 GP, 1-0-1, 2 PIM

3 – Kyle Madsen — 4 GP, 0-0-0, 0 PIM

4 – Josh Hanson — 5 GP, 0-5-5, 0 PIM

6 – Brett Ponich — 2 GP, 0-0-0, 6 PIM

7 – Joe Morrow — 2 GP, 0-2-2, 2 PIM

8 – Ty Rattie — 5 GP, 2-5-7, 2 PIM

9 – Teal Burns — 5 GP, 1-4-5, 2 PIM

11 – Oliver Gabriel — 2 GP, 3-3-6, 0 PIM

14 – Luke Walker — 3 GP, 2-0-2, 4 PIM

15 – Adam Smith — 4 GP, 0-0-0, 13 PIM

16 – Spencer Bennett — 3 GP, 2-1-3, 2 PIM

17 – Riley Boychuk — 2 GP, 0-1-1, 4 PIM

18 – Brad Ross — 1 GP, 0-0-0, 17 PIM

20 – Taylor Leier — 4 GP, 0-0-0, 0 PIM

23 – Seth Swenson — 5 GP, 4-0-4, 2 PIM

24 – Gasper Kopitar — 6 GP, 1-2-3, 2 PIM

25 – Taylor Peters — 3 GP, 0-1-1, 2 PIM

26 – Tyler Wotherspoon — 5 GP, 2-3-5, 18 PIM

27 – Sven Bartschi — 5 GP, 5-4-9, 0 PIM

28 – Brendan Leipsic — 5 GP, 3-0-3, 2 PIM

33 – Nicolas Petan — 4 GP, 1-3-4, 0 PIM

36 – David Watt — 5 GP, 0-2-2, 4 PIM

39 – Brayden Low — 5 GP, 0-1-1, 0 PIM

40 – Jason Trott — 1 GP, 2-0-2, 0 PIM

44 – Liam Darragh — 5 GP, 1-2-3, 9 PIM

47 – Stephane Robidoux — 5 GP, 0-1-1, 0 PIM

51 – Derrick Pouliot — 5 GP, 0-2-2, 4 PIM

55 – Tayler Jordan — 3 GP, 0-2-2, 11 PIM

Goaltenders:

30 – Keith Hamilton — 6 GP, 3.52, 89.0%, 3-0-0-2

31 – Mac Carruth — 1 GP, 1.21, 95.0%, 1-0-0-0

Power Play:

5 for 30 — 16.7%, 1 short handed against

Penalty Kill:

26 of 33 — 78.8%, 3 short handed goals for

Shots:

Portland — 80-92-74-8-0 — 254 (42.33/game)

Opponents — 54-76-55-8-2 — 195 (32.50/game)

Scoring by Period:

Portland — 11-9-9-1-0 — 30 (5.00/game)

Opponents — 3-12-5-0-2 — 22 (3.67/game)

Live-Blogging – Portland vs. Seattle, Saturday – 7:00

Todd Vrooman will be hosting the live blogging this weekend…you can access it by clicking here.

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