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.

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8 Comments

  1. Leipsic is already a fave with me! I really like small, fast & fiesty players like Leipsic and Ross – as long as they are on my team (LOL!).

  2. Good game last night!! However, Morrow had 3 assists…but not worth mentioning?

  3. Oh…and Joe Morrow had three assists…

  4. WAS THE LADY BEHIND IN THE PICTURE, A VANCOUVER FAN?

  5. I was very impressed with the play of Hamilton and Ross! Hamilton seemed to have everything under control and show that he can play in this league. And Ross was just flying all over the place, outskating his opponents and played under control. I also liked what i saw from the new guys. Its gonna be a fun hockey season!

  6. Yeah I was going to say the girl in the picture looks like she isn’t to happy to be there

  7. hey andy: can you help me? with the new whl website I cant find the game summary of the games for the Hawks or other WHL teams. where are they. I am not a fan of the new WHL website. Am I the only person with issues here

  8. Brian…go to http://www.whl.ca, on the “Schedules/Scores” tab there is a drop down menu that shows “Boxscores”…should find what you need there.

    AK


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