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WHL US Division: Portland Winterhawks split the weekend games

Portland loses one, but spoil banner night in Seattle.

Jimmy Budinski

After winning two strong games against division foes, the Portland Winterhawks walked into last weekend's games with high hopes of staying undefeated. After earning convincing wins over Seattle and Tri-City (7-3 & 7-3), the Hawks looked to continue that trend going into the season's second weekend of play. With the wins, Portland found themselves on top of the U.S. Division Standings, along with the Everett Silvertips at 2-0. Even though only two games were played before Friday's matchup against Everett, the Portland faithful raved with optimism and confidence against Everett, who ended the Winterhawk's season last year in the first round of the playoffs (4-0).

Here are the highlights of last weekend's games;

Everett Silvertips (3) vs Portland Winterhawks (1)

Both teams came into Friday night's contest with undefeated records at 2-0. Everett, playing a home and home against the Vancouver Giants, won both games 7-3 and 3-1. Portland won both games against division rivals the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Tri City Americans both by a score of 7-3. Also, both Portland and Everett getting key players back in their roster after NHL training camps concluded. Returning for Everett, last year's WHL Goaltender of the Year Carter Hart, and for Portland, Defenseman Caleb Jones and Center Rodrigo Abols. Everett started the scoring when #8 Patrick Bajkov scored to give Everett the lead 1-0.  Portland would later tie it up exactly four minutes later with a shorthanded goal provided by #17 Alex Overhardt (his second of the year) to bring the score to 1-1. It would stay that way until #22 Graham Millar (his 4th) for Everett scored with just thirteen seconds left in the second period to give Everett the lead 2-1 going into the locker room. Everett would add another goal just 3:09 into the third period when #17 Matt Fonteyne (his 2nd) shot the puck by Portland goalie #35 Michael Bullion to give the Silvertips a 3-1 lead.  Portland battled to try and get the score back to square, but #70 Carter Hart for Everett was stellar in net to ensure that his team would get the victory. The three stars for the evening was #1 Carter Hart (Eve), #2 Alex Overhardt (Por), #3 Graham Millar (Eve).  Shots on goal was Everett 33 and Portland 32.

Portland Winterhawks (6) vs Seattle Thunderbirds (1)

In their second meeting in four games, Seattle looked for redemption after they were embarrassed in Portland 7-3. It was also Seattle's first home game in which they raised the banner stating "2015-2016 Western Conference Champions" in front of their home crowd. Unfortunately for the Seattle fan base that was going to be the loudest cheer they would display for the rest of the evening. Portland would open up the scoring with a power play goal from Skyler McKenzie on a rebound that bounced off of Seattle Goaltender Rylan Toth. Portland would add another goal at the 15:03 mark of the first period when #39 Colton Veloso would score his first of the season on the Power Play to give the Winterhawks a 2-0 lead.  It would take just past the half way mark of the second period before newly appointed caption Keegan Iverson scored his first of the young season to give the Winterhawks a commanding 3-0 lead. Portland would not stop there, #19 Ryan Hughes added Portland's third Power Play goal of the evening after getting a pretty assist from #25 Even Weinger giving Hughes a wide open net to shoot in and giving Portland a 4-0 lead. Seattle would get one back when #16 Alexander True snuck one past Portland Net Minder #31 Cole Kehler to bring the score to 4-1 before the end of the second period.  But the Portland Winterhawks would shut Seattle down for the rest of the evening and would add two more goals to seal the deal.  Portland would get goals from #17 Alex Overhardt (his 2nd of the game and on the Power Play) and Captain #13 Keegan Iverson scored on a penalty shot on a pretty deke that beat Seattle goaltender #1 Carl Stankowski to extend the Portland lead to 6-1. Portland would go an amazing 4/5 on the Power play while Seattle would go goalless in an astounding 0/7. Your three stars for the evening were #1 Keoni Texeira (POR), #2 Ryan Hughes (POR), and #3 Alexander True (SEA).  Shots on goal were Portland 27, Seattle 26.

Portland heads into a tough Eastern road swing early in the season.  They will start their swing against the Swift Current Broncos on Tuesday October 4th and end with a game in Spokane on October 15th. The Eastern teams that Portland will face have started off strong with two of the teams still without a regulation loss (Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors). However; Portland looking strong against teams this year, may be in for a great road trip.  If Portland can come away with a 5-2 or better record, they will be happy with that, as any team would on the road. This couple of weeks will show the true grit of the Portland Winterhawks and how they can handle a long road trip against teams who are good in their own barns.

Photo by Jimmy Budinski

Here are the upcoming games for the Winterhawks;

Tue 10/04 @ Swift Current Broncos 6:00PM PST

Wed 10/05 @ Prince Albert Raiders 5:00PM PST

Fri 10/07 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 5:00PM PST

Sat 10/08 @ Saskatoon Blades 5:05PM PST

Tue 10/11 @ Brandon Wheat Kings 5:00PM PST

Wed 10/12 @ Regina Pats 5:00PM PST

Sat 10/15 @ Spokane Chiefs 7:05PM PST

Make sure you catch all of the action with Todd Vrooman on AM 860 or KPAM.COM

If you cannot attend, watch, or listen to the game, follow all of the action on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/946672248691074/ Portland LIVE Play by play.