Monday Update…

Some quick thoughts on the weekend and the week ahead…

– The Portland Winterhawks did exactly what they expected to do – win both games on home ice this weekend over the Everett Silvertips – and now they prepare for the next two games on Wednesday and Thursday in Everett.  Those two games (especially game 3) should be tougher battles as the Silvertips will be playing desperation hockey, down two games in the series.

– Mac Carruth made a triumphant return to the nets posting a 32 save shutout on Saturday and then stopping 37 of 39 last night to earn the WHL’s nominee as CHL Goaltender of the Week with a 1.00 GAA and a .972 save percentage in the two wins.  Arguably, the 37 save performance last night was better than the shutout as the quality of shots was better for Everett in the 7-2 win for Portland.  The shutout was the first on home ice in the post-season since Blake Grenier blanked the Silvertips 3-0 in Game 1 of the first round series back on March 25, 2005.

– Offensively, the Hawks were led by Ryan Johansen (1-4-5) and Nino Niederreiter (2-3-5) in the first two games.  Johansen is now on a 13 game point streak (counting regular season), a streak where he has put up 27 points in those 13 games.   Johansen now has 23 playoff points in just 15 career playoff games to move to a tie for 41st all-time in Hawks history with Rich Kromm (23 points in 28 games), Ron Chorney (23 points in 41 games) and Nolan Pratt (23 points in 41 games).  Next up is Ray Ferraro, Alvin Szott and Jason McBain with 24 points.

– The seven goals scored last night by Portland was the most ever scored by a Portland team against Everett in either a regular season or playoff game.  The Hawks scored six goals in Everett earlier this month, but had never hit the seven goal mark in over 90 games against the Silvertips.  In their only playoff match-up back in 2004-05, neither team scored more than three goals in a game with the final four games all being decided by a 3-2 margin with two of those games going to OT.

– Portland now has a chance to clinch the series on the road if they win the next two in Everett.  In case you were wondering, the last time Portland clinched a playoff series on home ice…you have to go back to the second round of the 2000-01 season when they knocked off Spokane in five games, winning game five on home ice by a margin of 4-1 on 4/27/01.

– We have finalized the radio stations for Wednesday and Thursday…on Wednesday, the game will be broadcast on KXL, both on AM at 750 AM and on FM at 101.1 FM.   There will be no pre-game show on Wednesday with our broadcast going on right at 7:00.  On Thursday, we will be back on Freedom 970, with the normal pre-game show at 6;35.


Playoff Intro Video…

Time to get fired up…

Portland Winterhawks


Everett Silvertips


Summary: The two teams meet for the second time in their postseason history, the first being in the opening round of the 2004-05 playoffs when the Silvertips won the series in seven games, winning the final game in the Rose Garden.  Portland won the season series 9-1-0-0 over the Silvertips this season, going 5-0-0-0 in Portland and 4-1-0-0 in Everett.   All the games were close with only one being decided by more than two goals.  Two games went to overtime with Portland winning one in the overtime session and one in a shootout.

The biggest advantage for Portland came in third period, where they outscored the Silvertips 12-3 in the 10 games.   The other two periods were almost even, with Portland scoring 21 goals to Everett’s 20 in the opening two periods.

Ryan Johansen led the Winterhawks in scoring in the series, posting 6-8-14 in 10 games, followed by Oliver Gabriel (who is out for the season with a shoulder injury) with 5-4-9 in just five games and Nino Niederreiter with 5-3-8 in eight games.  Everett was led by Ryan Murray with 1-7-8 in 10 games and fellow d-man Chad Suer with 0-5-5 in seven games.

Portland split the goaltending duties with Mac Carruth winning all five of his starts against Everett with a 2.39 goals against average and a .912 save percentage with one shutout.  Keith Hamilton went 4-1-0-0 with a 2.02 goals against average and a .936 save percentage.  Kent Simpson posted a shutout for the Silvertips lone victory in the series, going 1-4-1-1 with a 2.82 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.  Luke Siemens went 0-3-0-0 against Portland, posting a 4.05 goals against average and a .887 save percentage.

Series Statistics:

Goals Scored:

Portland — 6-15-12-1-1 — 35 — 3.50/game

Everett — 9-10-3-0-0 — 22 — 2.20/game


Portland — 122-129-110-9-1 — 371 — 37.1/game

Everett — 107-102-91-2-0 — 302 — 30.2/game

Power Play (Overall):

Portland — 7 for 31 — 22.6%

Everett — 5 for 45 — 11.1%

Power Play (Home):

Portland — 3 for 18 — 16.7%

Everett — 2 for 27 — 7.4%

Power Play (Road):

Portland — 4 for 13 — 30.8%

Everett — 3 for 18 — 16.7%

Penalty Kill (Overall):

Portland — 40 of 45 — 88.9%

Everett — 24 of 31 — 77.4%

Penalty Kill (Home):

Portland — 15 of 18 — 83.3%

Everett — 9 of 13 — 69.2%

Penalty Kill (Away):

Portland — 25 of 27 — 92.6%

Everett — 15 of 18 — 83.3%

Shorthanded Goals:

Portland — 3 (3 home, 0 away)

Everett — 4 (4 home, 0 away)

Empty Net Goals:

Portland — 2

Everett — 0

Injuries (as per the last report on the WHL site):

Portland — Oliver Gabriel (shoulder, out for series), Brett Ponich (knee, out for series)

Everett — Landon Ferraro (hip, day to day), Kent Simpson (ankle, day to day)

Radio Broadcast Information: Games 1 & 2 will be heard on Freedom 970.  We are waiting for confirmation on the other games in the series on which station we will be on.  We will have expanded radio coverage with yours truly doing play-by-play, Todd Vrooman providing rink-side coverage from between the benches, Dean “Scooter” Vrooman in the booth with me providing analysis and John Kirby as our intermission host for home games.  It should be a great broadcast…bring your radio, you can hear it live on 98.1 FM in the Rose Garden bowl.



50 Winners…

The Portland Winterhawks won 50 games for the first time since 1997-98…here is the video evidence.   All 50 game winners…got about 17 minutes?  Enjoy…


Expectation Met…

What's next?

One of my favorite TV shows of the last two decades is The West Wing, a political drama that lasted for seven seasons on NBC, that followed the fictional presidency of Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen.

The show was incredibly written by Aaron Sorkin and had a great ensemble cast.  I have been re-watching all seven seasons during the last few months, often watching three to four episodes a night, and in the series Sheen has a reoccurring line of “What’s next?” when he is ready to move on to a new topic in meetings.

That was the reaction of the Portland Winterhawks when they knocked off the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday night to clinch the U.S. Division Championship for the first time since 2001-02 and first overall in Western Conference in the regular season for the first time since 1997-98.

There wasn’t a huge celebration or a big display of emotion.  There were plenty of smiles and handshakes, but it was evident that while winning the U.S. Division was a great accomplishment for an organization that won just 11 games four years ago, it was just the realization of what has been the expected outcome since day one of the 2010-11 season.

Expectation met…what’s next?

Well, what’s next is the opening round playoff series against the Everett Silvertips starting on Saturday night at the Rose Garden.  I will be doing an in-depth tournament preview later this week, but this should be a hard-fought series amongst two teams that battled in each of the 10 games played this year.   There won’t be many surprises as after 10 games, you kind of get a feel for one another.

As we close out the 2010-11 regular season, here are a few noteworthy accomplishments for the Winterhawks:

– The first 50 win, 100 point and 300+ goal season since the Memorial Cup team of 1997-98.

– Six players averaged over a point a game and the Hawks had five players reach the 70 point plateau.

– Sven Bartschi led all rookies in goals (34), assists (51), and points (85).  His 51 assists set a new Winterhawks team record for 18 year old rookies, passing the 49 assist mark set by Steve Konowalchuk in 1991-92.

– Craig Cunningham has now played on five straight division title winners – four with Vancouver and one with Portland.  He may be the only player in WHL history to play five full seasons and win the division title each year.  Cunningham also finishes his regular season WHL career having played in 233 consecutive games.

– Nino Niederreiter scored two overtime winning goals, giving him four overtime winners in his career tying the franchise record with Todd Robinson and Ken Yaremchuk.

– The Hawks won 24 road games and earned 49 points on the road, tying the franchise record in both categories, matching the numbers of the 1980-81 team.

A first round preview will be forthcoming and maybe some video highlights of the year…hope you all have got your tickets for Games 1 & 2 this weekend at the Rose Garden…it should be fun!


Big, Bad Hawks?

It is always interesting to go into opposing rinks and talk to the various people you meet in the arena prior to the doors opening.  Whether it be the security guard at the gate, the radio broadcasters from the other side, the off-ice officials…it doesn’t matter, it is normally an interesting conversation.

For the past two years, one of the comments that always seems to be made is, “Man, are you guys big!”  And the Portland Winterhawks are big…and they play a physical style.   But with that in mind…there is one statistic that sticks out…one that would probably surprise most people. The big, bad Hawks are tied for the fewest fighting majors in the WHL for the 2010-11 season.

Through 68 games, Portland has 55 fighting majors…tied with the Everett Silvertips for the fewest in the WHL (maybe even more surprisingly, Spokane leads the league with 101).

The small number is even more surprising when you realize that in the 68 games that Portland has played, 31 of those have been decided by three or more goals when it seems that what I like to affectionately call “gong shows” are more prevalent.  There tend to be more line brawls or individual fights in lop-sided games and Portland, for the most part, has strayed away from that trend.

Tayler Jordan leads with 10 fighting majors, followed by Riley Boychuk, Joe Morrow, Taylor Peters and Brad Ross with 5 each, Brett Ponich with 4, Troy Rutkowski and Tyler Wotherspoon with 3, Oliver Gabriel, Seth Swenson and Jason Trott with 2 and a single fight for Taylor Aronson, Mac Carruth, Craig Cunningham, Liam Darragh, Matt Ius, Nino Niederreiter, Derrick Pouliot, Ty Rattie and William Wrenn.

Last year, Portland only had 64 fighting majors, so maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised by the low number.

The push for the #1 spot in the U.S. Division and the Western Conference continues tonight when the Hawks face the struggling Vancouver Giants.  The Giants have lost six straight, having been outscored 32-8 during that stretch and they’ll be missing leading scorer Brendan Gallagher again tonight.  Gallagher hasn’t played since being hurt after taking a hit from Brendan Leipsic in the Hawks meeting with Vancouver on March 5th.

It is the return of Spencer Bennett and Teal Burns to Portland for the first time since the trade in late December.  Bennett is coming off a four-goal game in an 8-5 loss to Chilliwack on Saturday.

Mac Carruth should return to the line-up tonight but whether or not he starts will be determined prior to puck drop.

Game time is 7:00 with the pre-game show on Freedom 970 starting at 6:35 live from the Rose Garden.

Saturday Update…

In the hotel room preparing for the second half of the of the two game series in Everett tonight…some random notes:

– There is hot and then there is the scorching pace that the four-letter word line is on right now…the combination of Brad Ross-Ryan Johansen-Nino Niederreiter has combined for 20-18-38 in the last six games for Portland.  Ross has 6-5-11, Nino has 10-3-13 and Johan has 4-10-14.

– Nino is on a career best six game goal streak while Johansen is on a career best six game assist streak.

– Speaking of six…last night was the first time in 82 career games against the Everett Silvertips that the Hawks had scored more than five goals.  The six last night broke the string of being held to five goals or less against Everett.

– And one more six stat…last night was the 19th time this year that Portland has scored six or more goals…11 of those have come since January 23rd.  Portland is 19-0-0-0 when scoring six or more and is now 40-0-0-0 when scoring four or more goals this season.

– Sven Bartschi is closing in on Marian Hossa for most points by a rookie import player in Portland history as Bartschi is at 83 points.  Hossa finished with 85 points in 1997-98.  Richard Zednik had 86 points in 1994-95 and Jiri Beranek had the most points as an import rookie with 94 in 1991-92.

– A nice return for both Ty Rattie and Riley Boychuk after missing four and six games respectively.  Rattie had a three point night while Boychuk played his normal power forward role and created some great chances offensively.

– The assist for Niederreiter last night was the 50th of his WHL career.

– One more stat for you…the Hawks are 35-1-0-1 when a player (any player) on the roster has a multiple goal game.  The only losses came when Craig Cunningham scored all three goals in a 4-3 loss to Seattle and when Brendan Leipsic scored both goals in a 3-2 shootout loss in Tri-City.

We will have the pre-game show tonight at 6:35 on Freedom 970 and the puck drop about 7:05…

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