A lot of Portland Winterhawks' fans were starting to panic coming into this last weekend. Going into four games in six nights, the Hawks were 2-6 and were struggling to score. It did not help that they were playing two games on the road against U.S. Division foes that had beaten them already this season and then returning home to host the defending Eastern Conference champion Brandon Wheat Kings. If you had told those pessimistic fans that they would get three or four points out of the week they would've been joyous. Instead they came away with all eight points, scoring 17 total goals, while only giving up six over the four games.
A lot of the credit has to be given to Adin Hill who notched a team record 45 save shutout on Sunday vs. Brandon. Then three days later made a career high 50 saves in another win over Tri-City.
Portland 2, Everett 0
The Hawks were facing the Silvertips for the third time already this season and the two familiar rivals played a tight checking game in which there were not a lot of great looks. Both Carter Hart and Adin Hill stood tall, but Portland was able to score a first period goal off a great backdoor feed from Rodrigo Abols to second year forward Colton Veloso and Adin Hill stood tall when needed, stopping all 26 shots he faced. Dominic Turgeon notched an empty net goal off a slick play at his own blue line by Abols which helped ice the third win of the season for Portland. The most impressive thing that came out of this win was Portland's sudden willingness to sell out blocking shots. They made several pivotal blocks late in the game, when Everett was pressing, helping to bail out Hill and preserve the shutout.
Portland 5, Tri-City 4
In what was easily the wildest of the four games on the week, Portland jumped out to an early 3-0 lead off of goals from Dominic Turgeon, Colton Veloso and Jack Dougherty. Then Tri-City surged back to tie the game midway through the third period, before a pivotal power play goal from Caleb Jones and a slick soccer style pass from Keegan Iverson to Alex Schoenborn helped the Hawks survive with the win. This was the first time Portland had won back to back games this season. While Hill gave up four goals he still made several impressive stops to keep Tri-City from taking the lead late in the third. Veloso score din back to back games for the first time in his WHL career and has been providing Portland the secondary scoring that has helped them over this stretch.
Portland 5, Brandon 0
The Hawks came back home to the waiting Brandon Wheat Kings. Brandon had been in town since the previous day. Portland frustrated the Wheaties by blocking shots, getting key saves from Adin Hill and scoring pivotal goals off of forced turnovers. Portland scored their first goal off a forced turnover, when Dominic Turgeon walked in for another goal on the weekend. Then after Hill made a save and kicked the ouck out, starting a rush the other way, Alex Schoenborn solved Jordan Papiirny for the two goal lead. Unlike the previous night, Portland played strong defense and added insurance markers from Rodrigo Abols, Turgeon again (his fourth of the weekend) and Skyler McKenzie to ice the game. The shutout was Hill's third of the season, which leads all WHL net minders.
Portland 5, Tri-City 2
Portland played Tri-City for the third time in 11 days and the game was a predictably nasty affair. One of the key identities starting to develop for Portland has been a strong response after giving up a goal and that was key this night. After Jordan Topping banked a rebound off of Jack Dougherty, Dougherty responded 37 seconds later, banking a shot of his own off of teammate Rodrigo Abols to tie the game. The Hawks then played another strong second period getting another goal from the third line of Alex Overhardt, Skyler McKenzie and Colton Veloso in a key spot. Veloso scored his third of the week and fourth of the season, continuing his hot streak. The hawks then got the eventual game winner from Dominic Turgeon off of a turnover forced by Keegan Iverson. Beau McCue made the score closer off a wrist shot that may've been helped by teammate Morgan Geekie moving Hill's glove out of the way. Portland kept the game from being controversial though, by icing the game behind goals from Keoni Texeira and Turgeon. The goal was Turgeon's second of the game and kept his six-game goal scoring streak going.
NOTES AND NEWS
- Portland did not sit pat after winning four straight, trading a couple third round Bantam Draft picks for 20-year-old import forward Rihards Bukarts from Brandon. The Latvian born speedster had 33 goals last regular season and 18 points over 16 playoff games during the Wheaties WHL Final run. In a strange turn of events, Portland may have Seattle and themselves to thank for being able to acquire the play maker. With Seattle blowing out Brandon, two nights after Portland did, Brandon probably did not want to get rid of either of their overage defensemen. Instead, with returning leading scorer Tim McGauley returning from injury soon and the Wheat Kings having to choose three to keep of Bukarts, McGauley, Colton Waltz and Macoy Erkamps, the Wheat Kings chose to hang onto everyone but Bukarts. Here's hoping him and fellow Latvian Abols find some instant chemistry.
- Portland's Adin Hill was named the WHL and CHL goaltender of the week and Team Canada took notice. The Canadian run Team WHL added Hill to their roster for games going in Kelowna and Kamloops in two weeks. Hill joins Everett's Carter Hart and Moose Jaw's Zach Sawchenko as the goalies on the roster. The Arizona Coyotes' draft pick will try and use this opportunity to convince Team Canada that they should invite him to U-20 World Junior Championship training camp this December.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
With Hill being named CHL Goalie of the Week, it made me think of another Hawks' goalie who won that honor; Mac Carruth and something he did completely unrelated to stopping pucks. Back in 2011, Carruth dropped the gloves vs. Swift Current goalie Austin Smith and they had one of the better goalie fights you will see at the WHL level. Carruth is currently the starting goalie for the ECHL Indy Fuel.