The win was the seventh consecutive victory for Portland over Kelowna, which is an all-time high for consecutive wins over the Rocket franchise for Portland.
I talk about Ty Rattie and Sven Bartschi a lot, but how can I not? They just continue to produce night in and night out and last night was no different as they combined for six more points and Rattie threw in a scrap to finish off the Gordie Howe hat trick. Each player has a nine game point streak and I’m sure the Kelowna Rockets are happy to not have to face those two any time soon as they have lit up Kelowna for 15 points in three games.
Of the six goals last night, the Hawks had some nice passing plays, but the highlight for me was Bartschi’s off the wrong foot laser of a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Adam Brown clean over the glove into the top corner. An absolute thing of beauty.
The power play went 3 for 8 on the night, including Nino Niederreiter getting his first goal of the season in his second game back from Long Island. The power play has seemed to be a point of frustration for some fans, but in reality, it hasn’t been bad all year. The Hawks have converted at least one power play goal in 11 of 15 games this season and is at over 21% on the season.
It was also nice to see Portland Coach Mike Johnston play Tayler Jordan, Taylor Peters and Seth Swenson on a late power play with the 6-1 lead. The trio almost converted too as Swenson made a nice drive to the net and Jordan had a great chance on the rebound but was foiled by Brown. I’ve seen too many times when the Hawks were in their dark days when the opposing coach would put his top power play unit on the ice with a five goal lead late in a game.
Speaking of Jordan…it was good to see him pick up a goal in the third period on the bad angle shot that went in off the underside of Brown’s blocker. Jordan has quietly been one of Portland’s top penalty killers and is one of the leaders in the locker room.
Peters had a chance to add his name to the record books when he earned a penalty shot in the second period while the Hawks were down two men. Only two players in Hawks history have scored when the Hawks were down two men – Scott Nichol on 1/22/94 vs. Kamloops and Steve Konowalchuk on 2/14/92 vs. Spokane. The penalty shot was the 37th all time in Hawks history, the Hawks have converted on 17 of the 37 (46%).
Mac Carruth had another superior outing and the victory was the 20th of his career in Portland. He also is a perfect 5-0-0-0 in his career against Kelowna, posting a 1.97 GAA and 94.7% save percentage in the five games against the Rockets.
With the win, the Hawks go to 12-2-0-1 through 15 games, best in the WHL. Three other times in their history have the Hawks won 12 of their first 15 games – 1982-83, 1993-94 & 1997-98. In 82-83 and 97-98 the Hawks went on to win the Memorial Cup while in 93-94 they lost in the Western Conference Final to the Kamloops Blazers.
The Hawks are now off until next Friday when the Red Deer Rebels visit the MC…have a safe Halloween everybody!