Winterhawks 5 – Silvertips 4 (SO)

It was a weird game tonight at the Memorial Coliseum as the Portland Winterhawks rallied for a three goal deficit to get the shootout victory 5-4 over the Everett Silvertips.

Mac Carruth got the start, and the finish, for Portland but it was Keith Hamilton that held Portland in the game for the Hawks as Carruth allowed 3 goals on 7 shots in the opening eight minutes and was relieved by Hamilton at that point.  Hamilton gave up one more in the period, but shut down Everett after that, stopping 20 of 21 shots in relief.  Once the game got to the shootout, Portland Head Coach Mike Johnston pulled a switch again and put Carruth back in net for the shootout and the move paid off, as Carruth stopped all three shots he faced to get the victory (as he gets credit as he was in net when the winning goal was scored – but as we said on the post-game show, we think he should have got the “save” in baseball terms).

As far as I know, this is the only time in WHL history that a team has changed goaltenders prior to the shootout and won.  I seem to remember one team making a change before the shootout, but they wound up losing.  If anyone can recall differently, leave a note in the comments section.

Some other randoms…

— For the record, Hamilton in his career against Everett has a 1.77 GAA and a .938 save percentage against Everett in four games.

— Craig Cunningham played in his 300th WHL game tonight, 295 of those came in a Vancouver Giants uniform.  With his assist in the third period, he now has 4-2-6 in his last four games.

— The tying goal by Nino Niederreiter was the 50th of his WHL career, coming in his 90th career game.

— Tyler Wotherspoon’s goal was the second of his WHL career and his first on home ice as he scored last year in Cranbrook.

— Some big NHL names in the building tonight, including Al MacInnis of the St. Louis Blues and Ken Holland (the older brother of former Hawk great Dennis Holland), the GM of the Detroit Red Wings.

— The Hawks killed four of five penalties tonight giving them 200 penalty kills on the season.  There are 13 WHL teams that have not 200 penalty kill attempts this season.

— With Oliver Gabriel’s short handed goal in the first period, the Hawks have now scored short handed in the past three games against Everett, two of those by Gabriel.

— The trade deadline is at 2:00 PM, all of the breaking news (if there is any) regarding the Hawks will be at the Hawks site first and on the WHL site.  I will have some commentary on all of the deals later tomorrow…and it will be interesting to see what happens, especially with what Kootenay paid to get Cody Eakin today.

— And lastly, nothing like the Spokane Chiefs coming to town to have the Snowmageddon forecast for Portland…the Hawks take on the Chiefs Wednesday night at 7:00 at the MC…

Winterhawks 2 – Thunderbirds 1

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Bull Durham…as spoken by Tim Robbins’ character, Nuke LaLoosh:

“Winning…its like so much better than losing…”

And after four losses, three coming after the Christmas break it was nice to see the Portland Winterhawks notch one back in the win column with the 2-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in front of 10,288 at the Rose Garden.

Some randoms…

— This was one of the best goaltended games I’ve seen in a long time with both Mac Carruth and Calvin Pickard playing well.  I love watching offense in hockey, but a good goaltender duel can be equally fun and exciting and tonight was that.  The two combined to stop 70 of 73 shots, some of them highlight reel quality.

— It was great to see all of the guys back in Portland and it was nice that there wasn’t a noticeable post-tournament hangover.  The two 16 year olds – Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic – both had very good games for Portland while Ryan Johansen, Sven Bartschi and Nino Niederreiter all played well.

— The Johansen/Bartschi/Ty Rattie line had some absolutely dominant shifts, especially in the final two periods where they hounded the puck in the offensive zone and won battle after battle.   If it wasn’t for Pickard, that line could have had four or five goals tonight.  In the end, they get the winner and that was good enough.

— Craig Cunningham continued to show why the Hawks traded for him, scoring the first goal on a nice wrist shot and playing sound in all three zones, and doing some good work on the PK.  Once he gets used to playing with Nino and Brad Ross, they could be deadly.

— A good WHL debut for William Wrenn as he showed good poise in the defensive zone and made some nice plays to clear pucks from traffic and some good outlets.  He played physical in the corners and he looked comfortable.

— Back to back, 10,000 plus crowds in the Rose Garden…been a while since that has happened.

— Everett makes the long drive from Spokane to Portland for the game on Sunday night…the Hawks and Silvertips at 5:00 tomorrow…pregame on Freedom 970 will be at 4:40.

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