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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