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WHL US Division: Winterhawks Notebook - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

We take a look at the week that was for the Portland Winterhawks

Look. A Winterhawk!
Look. A Winterhawk!
Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

The Portland Winterhawks took the Paul Abdul hit song "Opposites Attract" from the 1980's to heart last week as in the song they took "one step forward and two steps back."

THE GAMES

Friday: 5-0 win over Spokane

Portland controlled most of the flow of the game and utilized the new line of Paul Bittner-Rodrigo Abols-Alex Schoenborn to perfection. The three of them notched a total of 8 points (Bittner-2 and Schoenborn and Abols 3 each). Adin Hill notched his third career regular season shut out, stopping all 23 Chiefs shots. This shot total is really low for the Chiefs who are notorious for firing shots from all areas of the ice. This was due to a collective defensive effort for the Hawks, their best of the season.

Sunday: 3-2 loss to Seattle

In the first of 12 regular season match ups with the Thunderbirds, Portland played a tight checking, back and forth affair that saw Seattle's Alexander True break a 2-2 tie in the third period off of a nice outlet pass from import Gustav Olhaver. Portland then had a chance that ended up sliding across the goal line, but was fished out in the nick of time. The rivalry between Seattle and Portland looks to be building momentum again after they faced each other in last year's first round and look to be on a collision course for this year's playoffs too with two talented squads.

Tuesday: 4-0 loss to Prince Albert

The Raiders and Hawks played a fairly even affair with the major difference being that P.A. converted all of the "Grade A" chances they were given and Portland could not.  The Raider's 19 year old Goalie: Rylan Parenateau stopped 36 Winterhawks shots and shut out the Hawks for his first regular season shut out of his WHL career. Portland's Alex Overhardt and Skyler McKenzie seem to be having all kinds of bad luck on the ice as they have each had countless scoring chances, but cannot quite score on them. Portland needed these two to start providing points this year as they gained bigger roles in the lineup and so far the two have combined for 2 points in a combined 11 games played.

Notes

-Portland got bad news this past week as 19 year old Swedish import Center Carl Ericson got injured and is expected to be out 3-6 months. This is a huge loss for Portland as Ericson looked to be the creative play-maker Portland really needs this season. He is still 7th on the team in scoring (2 points) despite only playing in half as many games as most of the other players. That really tells the story about Portland's lack of offense so far this year.

-Portland's other import Latvian Rodrigo Abols leads the team in scoring with 6 points in 6 games and certainly appears to be the elite passer that someone like Paul Bittner needs to get the chances he can convert on.

-Portland did not make any moves yesterday as the WHL's over-age draft came and went with several of WHL team's fourth or fifth 1995 born players being scooped up.  Not acquiring another over-age player gives Portland the ability to acquire one at the trade deadline, like they did with Adam Henry last season. Or even mine the college ranks for a prospect on their protected list (a long shot, I know).

-WHL top 125 voting is going on over at www.whl.ca and Portland leads all teams with 14 former players to choose from. It will be interesting to see how many Winterhawks make it to the top 50 WHL players of all time and if they will still lead all teams when it is narrowed down.

-The first WHL power rankings came out and can be found here: http://hodgesheroes.blogspot.com/2015/10/whl-power-rankings.html This is a venture by a community of bloggers and media and it was spear headed by Red Deer Rebels blogger Paul Figler.

Video of the Week

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-With Cal Babych coming into town last Tuesday with the Prince Albert Raiders, memories of his Dad: Dave Babych playing with Portland in the late 1970s and early 1980s were on some of Portland's older fan's minds. Here is one of Dave's biggest NHL moments, scoring a pivotal goal in Game 5 of the historic 1994 Stanley Cup Final for the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver had blown a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in the game, when Babych flew up the ice and buried the game winner. It was arguably the biggest goal of his career. Vancouver went on to win game 6 as well, before falling in game 7 to Mark Messier and the Rangers.