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.