Winterhawks 8 – Raiders 2

With so many close games this season for the Portland Winterhawks, it was nice to have a game where the outcome wasn’t in doubt down the stretch as the Hawks gave up two early goals to the Prince Albert Raiders but responded with the next eight for the win.

It was the second game this year the Hawks posted the snowman on the scoreboard, the other was the 8-6 win over Kamloops.

No full blown recap of this one tonight as the Hawks were pretty much dominant in all aspects of the game – even strength, special teams and in goal – but I will offer up a bit of a retrospective.

On of my most vivid memories of the last time the Hawks made the run through the Eastern Division two years ago was the trip between Prince Albert and Saskatoon after the Raiders had ran over the Hawks 7-0 at the Art Hauser Centre.  It is only a 90 mile drive, but it seemed to take forever.

I remember looking out the window with my Ipod on, staring at the dark Saskatchewan sky pondering the future.  Everyone on the bus that night knew that changes were looming.   The ownership change was on the horizon and no one knew what to expect when we got back to Portland.  That night, after the 7-0 drubbing, was the low point for me.   I can remember thinking how easy it would be to walk away…to turn my back on the team and organization that had meant so much to me since I was 10 years old.

It wasn’t so much the pain of losing…although that hurt…it was more the continual ache of knowing how far the franchise had fallen and just how hard it would be to regain the respectability that the franchise once had.

Little did I know what was on the horizon.

The changes since that trip have been monumental…almost beyond description.   From day one…Bill Gallacher and crew have set out to make Portland the premier junior hockey franchise in the Canadian Hockey League.   Are they there yet…no…but it isn’t far off.

I decided that night to stick it out…to remain with the franchise if the new ownership group would have me.   And, on this night, a little over two years later, the same ride between Prince Albert and Saskatoon the feelings came back to me.   As I sat there with the same Ipod staring out at the same dark Saskatchewan sky, I couldn’t help but smile.   And if I looked a little weird, with a grin on my face in my darkened bus seat…so be it.

I am extremely honored to be a part of the Portland Winterhawks organization and to work with the people I work with.  It is a joy to ride the long miles with the team and it is not hard to feel that something special is on the horizon.   It’s only November 13, but there is a feeling.  There are no certainties in this game, but there is no other group of people or players that I would want to go to battle with.

The feeling I had two years ago walking into these buildings, almost with a shroud of shame as I tried to answer questions that I could not possibly have answers for has been replaced with walking into these same building with a sense of pride and yes…a bit of swagger…as the Portland Winterhawks have…not returned…but have been reborn in two short years.

My words cannot express how different this all feels…and for those that have been readers of this space since that time…I thank you and I hope you can feel it to.

Good night from Saskatoon…enjoy your Sunday, I know I will…

 

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6 Comments

  1. You know Andy, I remember those days too because you took a ton of crap that you did not deserve.

    You deserve some credit yourself because you did not quit when it would have been very easy too.

    You remained a class act then and deserve to savor all these good moments today.

    A stick tap to you Mr Kemper you earned it

  2. Well said (written) partner….Bus rides are a good time to reflect on many things – and it was inspiring to read your recap of this one.

  3. well said Andy. I felt the same way. i’ve been a hawks fan since the 79-80 season and have been on both eastern trips as well as a number of trips to the western conf.
    houses. But during the triple “J” dipsticks ownership (and i hate to say this) i stopped
    putting money toward the hawks, i never stopped supporting the players , i just could not put money towards that ownership and i prayed for anyone to take over, i started to get excited just over the rumors them selves. But under the current ownership the fans of the hawks are excited again. Hell i was excited when the door on the old owenershp slammed shut on them.

    But i will say this the constant through all this was you Andy and your perspective of
    the whole situation and you did it with CLASS. Thanks !!!!!!!!

  4. After reading the other comments, I could not have stated it better than they did. You are a class act with a now 1st Class organization, I am just happy to take the ride with you and everyone else who loves the Hawks.

  5. Thank you Andy for staying. I can’t imagine listening to road game after road game with anybody else. Your right there is a feeling in the air and with each win the feeling gets stronger and stonger. I’m really excited to see where this team is going to go this season.

  6. Amen, Andy. The dark days were a gut check for everyone, but I can’t imagine being in your shoes as Portland certainly had the tag of being a fallen star which had been taken to the brink of extinction. Thanks for sticking around and oh, what a winter and spring it’s going to be!


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