First, the big news today wasn’t good news as the Portland Winterhawks announced today that 19 year old Captain Brett Ponich is going to have surgery to repair a torn ACL on Thursday and could miss the remainder of the season.
Ponich hurt his knee on January 18th against Tri-City and if he is able to return depends on just how far the Winterhawks go in the post-season. Ponich will remain in Portland to do his rehab, so he’ll still be a fixture in the room, providing leadership and support while he recovers.
The injury is lessened a bit by the emergence of 19 year old William Wrenn over the past couple of weeks. Wrenn has 2-4-6 and a +18 rating in just 12 games.
The Hawks split the two games this weekend, falling to the Americans on Friday and then knocking off the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday, both by the score of 5-2.
Portland remains at the top of the U.S. Division and Western Conference with 71 points after 52 games. They are three points ahead of Spokane (having played 50 games) and six points ahead of Tri-City (having played 47 games). The Chiefs and Americans will go head-to-head seven more times (four times in Kennewick, three in Spokane) and that will go a long way towards determining the fate of the Division.
Portland faces Tri-City three more times (2 at home, 1 on road) and Spokane just twice more (1 at home, 1 on road).
The game on Saturday was the 2,500th regular season game in Winterhawks history. With the win, the Hawks are now 1224-1102-127-33-14 all-time having earned 2,622 points in the 2,500 games, a win percentage of .524. In the 2,500 games, Portland has scored 10,743 goals (4.30/game) and allowed 10,610 (4.24/game).
On Wednesday Winterhawks players will be at the Lake Oswego Flying Pie location serving pizza as part of a fundraiser for Portland Junior Hawks player Mitchell Lammert, who is currently battling cancer. Winterhawks players will be serving pizzas, taking drink orders and greeting customers, with their tips going to help the Lammert family pay for Mitchell’s medical bills. In addition, there will also be numerous fundraising initiatives for the Lammerts at the Winterhawks game on Feb. 11. Details on that game will be announced soon.
On Friday, the Edmonton Oil Kings come to town for their lone visit every other year. The Oil Kings (or at least this incarnation of the Oil Kings) are the only team that Portland has never beat on home ice in the WHL. Granted, the Oil Kings have only played here once, getting a 5-2 win at the MC on 11/5/08. Portland is 1-1-0-0 in Edmonton, winning 5-2 (man is that a popular score today or what?) on 10/15/09 at the Rexall Place in Edmonton.
On Saturday, the Tri-City Americans visit the MC and it will be the annual Buckaroos Salute, a tribute to the Portland Buckaroos teams that won three Lester Patrick Cups in 1961, 1965 and 1971 in the old Western Hockey League. Among the former players who will be in attendance that night will be Jim Hay, Art Jones and Tom McVie. There will be a display of Buckaroos memorabilia and opportunities for fans to meet the players and get autographs.
Lastly, here is the broadcast schedule for February:
Feb. 4 vs. Edmonton: Freedom 970 AM
Feb. 5 vs. Tri-Cities: Newsradio 750 KXL
Feb. 9 @ Spokane: Freedom 970 AM
Feb. 11 vs. Tri-Cities: Freedom 970 AM
Feb. 12 @ Seattle: Freedom 970 AM
Feb. 19 @ Chilliwack: Newsradio 750 KXL
Feb. 22 @ Prince George: Freedom 970 AM
Feb. 23 @ Prince George: Freedom 970 AM
Feb. 25 @ Everett: Freedom 970 AM/Televised on FSN Northwest
Feb. 26 @ Seattle: Newsradio 750 KXL