Winterhawks Week In Review – 9/18 – 9/25/11

This is the first of what will hopefully be an every Monday occurrence here on the ole blog…the week in review.

Game Summaries:

9/23/11 – Portland 3 – Everett 2 (SO) – Rose Garden:  It was a typical opening night game – moments of very good hockey mixed in with moments of sloppy hockey.  The Hawks never led in the contest but still got the two points thanks to Derrick Pouliot being the only shooter of the six attempts to dent the twine in the shootout.  Taylor Peters and Nic Petan scored in regulation as the Hawks outshot the Silvertips 39-28.

Mac Carruth got the win, and had to make some tough saves down the stretch to get the Hawks into the overtime and shootout.

Power Play — 1 for 7/Penalty Kill — 4 for 4

9/24/11 – Portland 6 – Seattle 3 — ShoWare Center:  This game looked like it was going to be a goaltender battle for the first 35 minutes as the teams remained scoreless, but the Hawks eventually wore down the Thunderbirds to close out a nice first road win of the season.  Ty Rattie returned in time from St. Louis and put up 2 goals and 1 assist but the offensive catalyst was Derrick Pouliot with four assists. Brad Ross also chipped in three points while Nic Petan and Troy Rutkowski also found the twine.

Carruth picked up his second win, with the Hawks out-shooting Seattle 46-24 leaving  a frustrated Calvin Pickard to exit the ice slamming his stick on the glass after the final buzzer.

Power Play — 2 for 5/Penalty Kill — 2 for 2

9/25/11 – Tri-City 6 – Portland 5 — Toyota Center:  The third game in three nights for the Hawks and despite going down 5-0, the team battled back hard, just falling short in the end.  Connor Rankin had a natural hat-trick for the Ams while Adam Hughesman chipped in four assists.  For Portland, Rattie posted his second consecutive 2 goal/3 point night while Taylor Peters scored twice.  Ross scored the other goal and assisted on one as well.  Rookie Chase De Leo assisted on both of Rattie’s goals – both on the power play – while Pouliot added two more helpers.

Brendan Burke started in net for Portland, giving up four goals on 12 shots in just over 22 minutes and was replaced by Carruth who stopped 10 of 12.  Portland once again  out-shot their opponents, this time 37-24 in the contest.

Power Play — 2 for 4/Penalty Kill — 2 for 3 (1 shorthanded goal for)

Week Statistics:

Goals:  Portland 14 – Opponents 11

Shots:  Portland 122 – Opponents 76

Power Play — 5 for 16 — 31.3%

Penalty Kill — 8 of 9 — 88.9%

Kemper’s Three Stars of the Week:

1 – Derrick Pouliot — It was a tough week for Derrick after the passing of his grandfather, but all he did was return to Portland, play 30 minutes a game, put up 0-6-6 in three games and score the shootout winner at the home opener.  Sophomore slump?  Yeah…I don’t think so…

2 – Ty Rattie — Arrived in time for the game in Seattle on Saturday and put up 4-2-6 in two games, including three power play goals.

3 – Nicolas Petan — The 16  year old had a fine first weekend in his first full season, posting 2-1-3 in 3 games including the tying goal in the home opener and the insurance goal in Seattle.

Honorable mentions:

Brad Ross — 2-3-5 in 3 games

Taylor Peters — 3-0-3 in 3 games

Milestones Reached:

First Career WHL goals:

Nic Petan (9/23/11)

First Career WHL Assists:

Joey Baker (9/24/11)

Chase De Leo (9/25/11)

Taylor Leier (9/25/11)

Others:

Ty Rattie — 5oth career WHL goal (9/25/11)

Brad Ross — 500th career WHL penalty minute (9/23/11)

Seth Swenson — 100th career WHL game played (9/23/11)

Mike Johnston — 200th career WHL regular season game coached (9/24/11)

Roster Moves:

Adam Smith – reassigned to Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL)

Gabriel Minville – released

What to watch for in the week ahead:

The Winterhawks play twice this week – Friday vs. Tri-City and Saturday vs. Seattle – with both games at the Rose Garden.  Saturday night is the annual Dash-for Cash night.

The Hawks may find out the fate of both Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh) and Sven Bärtschi (Calgary).   Both are expected back in Portland, but when is the question.  As of right now, none of the other six players (Taylor Aronson, Riley Boychuk, Oliver Gabriel, Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter or Brett Ponich) are expected back soon, if at all.

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Opening Night!

There is something special about opening night of a hockey season…probably because it only happens once per season (thanks Captain Obvious!).   Tonight will be especially exciting with the raising of the the 2010-11 U.S. Division and Western Conference Championship banners.  It is a time to honor the past accomplishments while looking forward to what lies on the horizon.

First off…a roster update:  The Winterhawks started off with 15 players eligible to return attending NHL camps.  To date, with Taylor Peters being returned today by the Minnesota Wild, six of those players are in Portland or are on their way back to Portland — Peters (MIN), Brad Ross (TOR), Troy Rutkowski (COL), Mac Carruth (CHI) and William Wrenn (SJ).

That means that nine players are still at camp, but there are a few that shouldn’t be expected to return — Brett Ponich (STL), Nino Niederreiter (NYI), Ryan Johansen (CBS), Oliver Gabriel (CBS) and Taylor Aronson (NSH).  And, today, Riley Boychuk was assigned by the Buffalo Sabres to their AHL affiliate in Rochester, NY.  Boychuk still hasn’t signed (as far as I know) a professional contract and if he doesn’t, he will be back in Portland.  But, the odds of him returning were lessened today.

That leaves Ty Rattie (STL), Sven Bartschi (CAL) and Joe Morrow (PIT) as the remaining three that are most likely to return.  Rattie is playing tonight for the Blues in preseason action, but the roads point to a return for him soon.  Both Bartschi and Morrow have signed and could be with their NHL clubs for a while.   Both are playing very well and I think the Hawks will be fortunate to have them back by next weekend.

So, that opens some spots for players like Nic Petan, Chase De Leo, Ryley Bennefield, Joey Baker, Layne Viveiros and others to get an early jump on their rookie seasons starting tonight against the Everett Silvertips.

This team has done a lot to build up their depth and tonight we’ll see that pay off.

A few notes about opening night:

In the 35 previous season openers, the Hawks have gone 19-15-1-0-0 overall.

In the 35 previous home openers, the Hawks have gone 22-11-2-0-0 overall.

The Hawks have opened their home schedule against Everett just once, and that was in the inaugural season of the Silvertips with the Hawks winning 5-2 in front of 7,013 at the Rose Garden on 9/20/03.

Last year, Portland wen 9-1-0-0 in 10 games against Everett, outscoring the Silvertips 35-23.  One of the wins was in overtime while another was in the shootout (meaning Everett went 1-7-1-1 against Portland last year).   The Hawks then swept the ‘Tips in four straight in the first round of the postseason.

Tonight’s game will be number 2,521 in team history…in those 2,520 previous games, Portland has gone 1240-1106-127-33-14 outscoring their opponents 10,843 to 10,674.

Let’s drop the puck…be in your seats early for the raising for the banners!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

With the announcement on www.winterhawks.com this morning, it is official that I am returning to my broadcasting roots by relinquishing the play-by-play chair to my partner Todd Vrooman and am moving back to the color analyst role that I originally occupied when working with Todd’s father Dean.

In reality, the change had already taken place as Todd handled the play-by-play of the preseason games that we broadcast this season on the Hawks website.

This decision had been brewing for a while for me.  When Todd was hired as the color analyst two years ago, I let him know that this was probably in the works and if he wanted to pursue the broadcasting role, it would be a great opportunity for him.  He took that and ran with it and I want to congratulate him on not only taking the play-by-play job but also being named the Broadcast Communication Manager position with the team.

It was never my desire to be the full-time voice of the team when I started doing color with Scooter eight years ago.  I enjoyed working the games and being a part of the organization that I had followed since I was 10 years old.  We were a good team and I certainly learned a lot in those years about being a broadcaster during that time.

When Scooter decided to leave for the banking industry, it was late in the summer and I knew it would be hard to find a suitable replacement for him in that short time frame before the season started.  So…I stepped forward and offered my services knowing that it would be a tough go with the hockey schedule, family schedule and my normal full-time work schedule.  I somehow made it work for four years…but it has been a grind.

Don’t get me wrong…I have loved every minute of it…I have seen this team go from 11 wins to a Western Conference Championship.  I am going to miss a lot about the job, but I know that I am not leaving it entirely.  I won’t miss long bus rides with little to no sleep and lugging radio gear around some of the rinks in the WHL.

The timing of this change makes sense with the migration to the new format using live365 as the main broadcast channel for the team.  There will be much more work and content needed than before and I know that Todd will do a great job in getting that running at full steam.

I will say that I have been blessed…I’ve been able to (and will continue to) work with some tremendous people in the Hawks organization and the WHL and that I’ve had many more supporters than critics.  It will be a change for me to go back to the analyst role as it takes a different eye to do that job well.  I’ve focused on the puck more as the play-by-play guy and now I will need to break that habit and see the whole ice to deliver the kind of analysis that I did once before.   And…I’m sure Todd will let me do a little play-by-play as well.

And now…I will be able to attend more of my daughter Aiden’s swim practices and meets and spend more weekends at home with her and my wife Vicki…I’m looking forward to that.  Those two have been incredibly supportive and understanding the last few years and I couldn’t have done this without them.

This is an exciting time for the organization and I’m glad that I can be a part of that, even if it is in a less prominent role.  I’ve had my years as “the voice” and it was great fun.  Now, it is Todd’s turn to take the lead role…join me in wishing him well and I know that I look forward to many more years as his partner in the broadcast booth moving forward.

 

 

 

Hawks Acquire Charles Wells…

Photo Credit - Greg Pender - Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The Portland Winterhawks announced this morning that they have acquired 20 year old center Charles Wells from the Prince Albert Raiders for a 4th round bantam pick in 2013.

Wells has played in Prince Albert and Seattle in his WHL career, posting 41-72-113 in 234 career games.

With the graduation of Craig Cunningham and the probable loss of Ryan Johansen to the Columbus Blue Jackets as a 19  year old, the Hawks had an opening for a veteran center who has speed and skill and Wells fits that mold.

Wells joins William Wrenn as the Hawks overage players on the current roster.  Taylor Aronson, Oliver Gabriel and Brett Ponich are eligible to return, but they have all signed professional contracts and are expected to most likely play in their respective pro systems in 2011-12.  Riley Boychuk is also eligible to return and he remains in the Buffalo Sabres camp looking to earn his professional contract.

 

NHL Prospect Numbers…

Some updates on stats from the prospect tournaments held in Traverse City and Penticton:

Riley Boychuk – Buffalo — 4 GP, 2-0-2, 2 PIM, +1

Ryan Johansen – Columbus — 3 GP, 3-3-6, 4 PIM, +5

Oliver Gabriel – Columbus — 4 GP, 2-2-4, 0 PIM, +4

Taylor Peters – Minnesota — 4 GP, 1-0-1, 2 PIM, +2

(Peters has earned an invite to the Wild’s main camp as a free agent after a strong showing in Traverse City.)

Ty Rattie – St. Louis — 4 GP, 2-4-6, 2 PIM, +3

Brett Ponich – St. Louis — 4 GP, 0-0-0, 4 PIM, +1

Sven Bartschi – Calgary — 3 GP, 2-0-2, 0 PIM, -3

Tyler Wotherspoon – Calgary — DNP

William Wrenn – San Jose — 2 GP, 0-0-0, 0 PIM, -3

(Johansen and Rattie finished tied for second in scoring for the entire tournament in Michigan.)

In other rookie games:

Nino Niederreiter – New York Islanders — 2 GP, 3-2-5 in rookie games against Boston

Mac Carruth (Chicago), Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh) and Brad Ross (Toronto) all took part in a tournament held in Oshawa, but no stats are available.

Taylor Aronson (Nashville) played in two rookie games against Tampa Bay with no stats available.

Troy Rutkowski (Colorado) has not had any rookie games to play in.

Weekend Update…

No…not with Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon…but after posting my earlier post…this is from the Winterhawks office:

ABUNDANCE OF NHL PROSPECTS FORCES CANCELLATION OF PRESEASON GAME, STREET FAIR

 

The Winterhawks have an unprecedented 15 players away at National Hockey League training camps. However, that incredible success has come with a downside: with a depleted roster, the Portland Winterhawks have been forced to cancel both the preseason game against Seattle scheduled for Friday and the Street Fair scheduled for Saturday.

 

The Winterhawks dressed just 16 skaters for this past weekend’s preseason games, but lost one player to injury over the weekend and a second to a waiver claim from another team, leaving Portland with too few skaters to field a team for Friday’s game.

 

With the shortened roster, the organization decided to move many of planned Street Fair attractions and events to the opening night game on Friday, September 23.

 

“Having 15 players away at NHL training camps is a testament to the talent we have on our team, and a pretty nice problem to have,” said Portland Winterhawks President Doug Piper. “With our players in such demand at the next level, we decided to concentrate our hockey celebration on opening night next Friday.”

 

Hawks fans won’t want to miss next Friday’s 2011-12 regular season opening night at the Rose Garden when the team hosts the Everett Silvertips at 7 p.m. The Winterhawks will raise their 2010-11 U.S. Division and Western Conference championship banners to the rafters in an exciting event presented by Konica Minolta Business Solutions.

 

Five-game ticket plans are now available and start at just $60 per person and include five free gifts. Group rates start at 10 people ($16.50 per person) and every ticket includes a free Winterhawks hat. Call 503-236-HAWK or e-mail seats@winterhawks.com today to guarantee the best locations. Opening night is Friday, September 23, at 7 p.m. in the Rose Garden.

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Enjoy the weekend off everyone!

Monday Ramblings…

It was a good two-game stint for the Portland Winterhawks as they went 2-0-0-0 in Kennewick, knocking off the host Tri-City Americans 3-2 on Friday night and then the defending WHL Champions Kootenay Ice 8-5 on Saturday afternoon.

With the Hawks having 15 players away at NHL camps, it was a bit of a guessing game on what would happened, but the 16 skaters and 3 goaltenders played solid, if not spectacular, hockey in the two victories.

All of the teams in the tournament were missing key players and it was a chance to evaluate which team had depth and where their prospects rank.  For Portland, there were a number of positives:

— Scoring 11 goals in two games was nice, but to have the scoring spread out from 10 different goal scorers was a plus.  Seth Swenson was the only player to score twice, getting the game winner late on Friday against the Ams and then scoring a power play goal on Saturday.

— Speaking of power plays, Portland’s looked very good all weekend, going 5 for 14 (35.7%) in the two games.  The Hawks used 16 year old  centers Nic Petan and Chase De Leo to be the catalysts on the half-wall on the power play and Derrick Pouliot from the point to lead the way.  Petan finished the weekend with 1-3-4, De Leo 0-3-3 and Pouliot 1-3-4 in the two games.

— One player who stood out to me in all areas was Taylor Leier.  He scored 1-1-2 but was very good defensively and read plays well to break opposing team rushes in neutral ice on many occasions.

— The Hawks played very physical on the boards, winning the majority of board battles in both ends over the weekend with Joey Baker and Adam Smith playing the power game well.   Also noticed good things from Josh Hanson and Matt Franczyk in this area.

— In net, Brendan Burke, Chase Martin and Jarrod Schamerhorn split the duties and all had their moments.  Burke was hung out to dry a bunch late against Kootenay, but he made some tremendous stops as well.

It was also a good weekend for some of the Hawks players in the prospect tournaments:

Ryan Johansen 1-3-4 in 2 games for Columbus.

Riley Boychuk 2-0-2 in 2 games for Buffalo.

Oliver Gabriel 1-0-1 in 2 games for Columbus.

Ty Rattie 0-1-1 in 2 games for St. Louis.

Brett Ponich (St. Louis) and Taylor Peters (Minnesota) are both playing in the Traverse City tournament as well, but hadn’t hit the scoresheet after two games.

Brad Ross (Toronto), Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh) and Mac Carruth (Chicago) are all playing in a tournament in Oshawa, Ontario.  No stats available that I can find.

Sven Bärtschi (Calgary) and William Wrenn (San Jose) are playing in the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton.  Tyler Wotherspoon (Calgary) is on the Flames roster but is not expected to see any action.

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