Weekend Wrap…

Sorry for no posts this weekend…but it was a fun weekend at the Winterhawks Skating Center watching the current and future Winterhawks battle it out for the Neely Cup.  The scrimmages were fast paced, energetic, exciting and even provided a bit of drama for those that attended.

After the final scrimmage on Sunday, the team narrowed the camp roster down to about 35-40 players, but I haven’t seen an official list yet.  I do know that with school starting (or having started) that all of the 1996 born players have returned home to get going in school and to prepare for their seasons in Midget hockey.

And, I will say that I was quite impressed with the 1996 born players that took part – draft picks Zach Paterson, Tyler Sandhu, Dominic Turgeon, Mitch Skapski, Michael Fortin, Ryan Norman, Josh Blanchard, Ryan Collins, and Rhett Willcox all had good moments during the scrimmages and the future looks bright.  Add in Layne Viveiros (born in 1995) and the 2011 Bantam Draft class looks very solid.

Also, list player Keegan Iverson turned a few heads with his size, speed and grit…showing the signs of a future power forward.

I hope that those that tuned into our webstream on www.live365.com enjoyed the show.  It was our first foray into that website and it went really well.  So well that we will use it again for all of the preseason games.

Once you go to the website, register for free and do a search for “Winterhawks” and that will bring up our Internet station that will be playing Winterhawks audio 24 hours a day.  There is also a free app available on the iPhone, Android marketplace and Blackberry app market.  I’ve loaded it on my Droid and it works great…you can listen to all Winterhawks, all the time.

Todd Vrooman has done a lot of work getting that up and running…so, thanks to Todd!

That’s it for now…I’m ready for preseason games…


Neely Cup – Day 2…

Day 2 had more good action at the daily scrimmages as you could tell that the players looked more comfortable than they did on Day 1, and also you could tell that there were some tired bodies as well at times.  These players have been pushed hard in camp with on-ice and off-ice workouts on top of the scrimmages and that just reinforces the work ethic it takes to be a top major junior hockey player.

Here are some of the numbers:

Team Hossa (Black) vs. Team Messier (Blue):

Game 1:

Team Blue: 3 (Seth Swenson  1 G-2 A, Brandon Zajecek 1 G, William Wrenn 1 G)

Team Black: 2 (Presten Kopeck 1 G, Oliver Gabriel 1 G, Logan Fisher 2 A)

Game 2:

Team Black: 5 ( Oliver Gabriel 2 G-1 A, Jason Trott 1 G, Joe Morrow 1 G, Ryley Bennefield 1 G-1 A, Keagan Iverson 2 A)

Team Blue: 1 (Brad Ross 1 G, Evan Reid 1 A)

Team Deadmarsh (Red) vs. Team Ference (Gray):

Game 1:

Team Red: 3 (Nic Petan 1 G-1 A, Cody Castro 1 G, Troy Rutkowski 1 G)

Team Gray: 2 (Tyler Sandhu 1 G-1 A, Riley Boychuk 1 G)

Game 2:

Team Red: 3 (Josh Blanchard 1 G, Sven Bartschi 1 G, Nathan Craft 1 G, Rhett Willcox 2 A)

Team Gray: 1 ( Steven Alldridge 1 G, Taylor Peters 1 A)

A lot of the talk at the games has been about the play of the goaltenders and they have been impressive.  Brendan Burke and Jarrod Schamerhorn are the two signed goaltenders and both have made big stops in their outings.  Two 15 year old invites, Adin Hill and Blake Pearson, both had strong outings on Friday evening and I’ve been impressed with 17 year old Mitchell Backhouse and 16 year old Tomas Sholl.

I spent most of Friday watching the 1995 and 1996 players and there is a lot of talent upcoming for this team.  Nic Petan has been nothing short of outstanding in two days, creating plays and controlling the puck.  The puck seems to find him and when it does he makes something happen with it.  Not many 16 year olds play as top 6 forwards in the WHL, but Petan has that chance for the Hawks.

Layne Viveiros (16) has shown very well on the blue line and seems very composed for a young player – reading plays well and making smart plays.

From the 1996 class, I have seen good things from all of the draft picks in 2011.  Zach Paterson is a very heady player who shows great offensive instincts with the puck.  Sandhu has a nose for the net and hasn’t looked out of place with the pace of the WHL game.  List player Keagan Iverson has shown very well and he is easy to notice as he hits everything in sight and at 6’2, 210 as a 15 year old, he can deliver a hit.  Dominic Turgeon is showing that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as he has shown some very good skill, looking like Dad, Pierre, at times.

All in all…a good two days…now we’ll see who has the legs over the next two days.

See you at the Winterhawks Skating Center at 4:00…


Neely Cup – Day 1…

The best thing about the opening of a new training camp for the Portland Winterhawks is the sense of optimism.  The team came oh so close to achieving their goal of winning the Western Hockey League and advancing to the Memorial Cup and you can tell, even on day one, that coming close just motivates those involved to get past where they were in 2010-11.

For most of us in attendance last night, the majority of the time was spent glancing at the ice and then scanning a roster sheet to see just who did what.  I will say that for the first day of scrimmages, the pace of play was fantastic…with speed being the key ingredient that stood out for me for all four squads.  Regardless of the size of the player…they all showed good skating and the scrimmages were about quick transitions and jumping the rush to create scoring chances.

Some quick summaries (teams are playing two 30 minute games per session)

Team Deadmarsh (Red) vs. Team Hossa (Black):

Game 1:

Red – 2 (Nic Petan, Joey Baker)

Black – 2 (Jason Trott, Presten Kopeck)

Game 2:

Red – 4 (Steen Cooper (2), Keanan Patershuk, Evan Anderson)

Black – 1 (Jason Trott)

Team Ference (Gray) vs. Team Messier (Blue):

Game 1:

Gray — 2 (Lukas Walter, Nolan Kinney)

Blue — 1 ( Tyler Parker)

Game 2:

Gray — 3 (Taylor Peters, Tyler Sandhu, Ryan Norman)

Blue — 2 (Brad Ross, Ryan Collins)

I’ll try to post some thoughts on individual players later on in the camp, but first I have to nail down who is who!

See you at the rink…

Training Camp Looming…

The squad on the left is the roster that won the 2010 Neely Cup at the Portland Winterhawks training camp.  Today, we found out the rosters that will take part in the battle this year as the team made the rosters public.

The notable names not listed are of course Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter.  Both of those players have reported to their NHL teams already and are doing workouts with them prior to the start of NHL camps.  Both players have to play in the NHL in 2011-12 or they have to be returned to Portland.   I’m sure the Hawks brass aren’t holding their breath waiting upon their return.

On the current list is 88 players, and from looking at the names, this will be a young camp:

Forwards (48):

1991 (20) — 2

1992 (19) — 5

1993 (18) — 5

1994 (17) — 10

1995 (16) — 14

1996 (15) — 12

Defense (32):

1991 (20) — 3

1992 (19) — 5

1993 (18) — 3

1994 (17) — 10

1995 (16) — 2

1996 (15) — 9

Goaltenders (8):

1992 (19) — 2

1993 (18) — 1

1994 (17) — 1

1995 (16) — 2

1996 (15) — 2

So, 67 of the 88 bodies are (hockey age) 17 year olds or younger.

There are also some players with WHL experience looking to get back into the league — Cody Castro (Tri City/Lethbridge), Matthew Franczyk (Swift Current/Moose Jaw), Mitch Spooner (Vancouver/Regina/Seattle), Tyler Parker (Everett/Regina, one game with Portland last season), Chase Martin (Spokane/Prince George).

The Hawks are also going to have a ton of players leaving to go to pro camps in September:

2 – Rutkowski – Colorado

5 – Morrow – Pittsburgh

6 – Ponich – St. Louis

8 – Rattie – St. Louis

11 – Gabriel – Columbus

17 – Boychuk – Buffalo

18 – Ross – Toronto

26 – Wotherspoon – Calgary

27 – Bartschi – Calgary

31 – Carruth – Chicago

37 – Aronson – Nashville

44 – Wrenn – San Jose

Add in Johansen and Nino and that is 14 players to take part in pro camp and I believe that Taylor Peters could be the 15th with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent invite.

Public scrimmages are at 4:00 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then third place and Championship game for the Neely Cup will be held starting at 9:00 AM on Sunday.

See you at the Winterhawks Skating Center!


Winterhawks Sign Joey Baker…

From www.winterhawks.com:

The Portland Winterhawks have signed 18-year-old forward Joey Baker. The Winterhawks had originally placed Baker on their protected list last September.


Baker, 6’3”, 190 pounds, played 57 games for the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League last season, and scored four goals and added eight assists for 12 points in 57 games. He was also ranked on the National Hockey League Central Scouting Bureau’s ratings throughout last season.


“Joey is a big kid who skates well and is a player I believe is just starting to reach his potential,” said Portland Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston. “I’m looking forward to seeing how he develops in our environment.”


“I’m very excited about the opportunity to make the jump to the WHL and join a championship contender,” said Baker. “I watched the Winterhawks in the WHL Finals last season and want to help the team get back there this season.”

Monday Notes…

Some randoms for a Monday…

— Training camp is only about 10 days away with the players reporting on Wednesday, August 24th, for registration and fitness testing.  The on-ice work begins on the 25th with the Neely Cup scrimmages taking place starting that afternoon.  There will be two scrimmages a day – starting at 4:00 and 5:45 – on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (25th-27th) and the third place game and championship game being held Sunday (28th) morning starting at 9:00 AM.

— While I haven’t got a final list, the expectations are to have about 80-90 players at camp, to form four teams like the last few years have had.

— Congratulations to Derrick Pouliot and Team Canada for winning the gold medal at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  They lost their first game of the tournament, but then were dominant after that, including a 5-0 whitewash of Russia in the semi-final where they outshot the Russians 44-6 and won 5-0.  Pouliot scored twice and added an assist in the tournament and was recognized by TSN’s Craig Button as one of the top 10 performers in the tournament.

— Also, congratulations to Josh Hanson and Team USA for finishing fifth in the same event.  The USA team only lost one game, but had to go to OT and a shootout to win two games which, with the tournament points rules, was less points than if they had won in regulation.  Hanson didn’t hit the scoresheet for the US team, but the experience will help prepare for the Hawks camp for the 17 year old second year player.

— For Pouliot…he is now off to Toronto to take part in the NHL’s Research and Development Camp where new rules will be tried out to see how effective (or ineffective) they are.  Most have to do with faceoffs as well as offside and icing interpretations.  Ty Rattie took part in the same camp last year as it is a chance for potential top draft picks to get some time in front of the NHL brass.

– It is now confirmed that Tayler Jordan will take part with the New York Rangers prospects at the Traverse City tournament in Michigan in September.  Jordan has played in that tournament before with Columbus and also attended a training camp with the Vancouver Canucks.  You can expect both Ryan Johansen and Oliver Gabriel to play for Columbus in that tournament, and maybe a few other Hawks or ex-Hawks as well.


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