The Portland Winterhawks returned to the win column tonight with a 4-1 win over the Prince George Cougars at the Rose Garden in the first of back-to-back games this weekend against the Cougars. Tomorrow night, the same two will battle again in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game.
– The best period for Portland may have been the first despite the 0-0 score after 20 minutes. The Hawks controlled play and outshot the Cougars 11-4 in the frame. Ty Rimmer made some nice saves and got some help from the left post on a rocket slap shot by Sven Bartschi.
– The Hawks would score three in the second, the first two on premier passing plays and the third on a great up-ice rush and roof shot by Spencer Bennett. Bartschi got the scoring started with a nice passing play with Taylor Aronson feeding Ty Rattie down low and a cross crease pass to Sven for the put in. The next goal was a good rush by Brad Ross and set up for Troy Rutkowski in the slot and Rutkowski fed a nice backhand back to Ross for the goal.
– The Cougars got one back on a goal by Spencer Asuchak late in the second period but that would be all the scoring until Riley Boychuk’s empty netter with 1.8 seconds left on the clock.
– Both goaltenders had strong nights with Mac Carruth stopping 22 of 23 and Rimmer handling 26 of 29 in the loss. Carruth’s best saves came in the final minute as the Cougars tried to cut into the lead.
– This may have been the best defensive effort from Portland in some time, limiting the Cougars to 23 shots, the second fewest allowed this year for Portland. I thought Brett Ponich had a very good game, picking up an assist and going +3 while being a beast down low on the penalty kill.
– Brad Ross may want to decline the next time he is awarded a penalty shot. His attempt in the third period was his third this season (the first Hawk to have three penalty shots in a single season in their history) and fourth of his career. He is unsuccessful in all four attempts. The Hawks have had six penalty shots in 34 games, and are just 1 for 6 with Brendan Leipsic’s goal against Lethbridge being the only successful attempt.
– Best of luck to both Ryan Johansen and Ross who will leave tomorrow morning for Toronto to try and earn a spot on Team Canada’s World Junior Championship roster. The team will miss you, but we know you’ll do us proud boys.
– It was great to meet and interview Ross’ future GM Brian Burke at the game tonight…if you missed it, here is the interview:
– That’s it for tonight…