The Portland Winterhawks enjoyed a good start to this season, but have quickly learned that there is still work to be done. Although the Hawks have a strong offense, great communication, and a great leader in Mike Johnston, you still have to produce on the ice. It isn't hard to see that there is definite talent on this year's squad, but they are still young and finding their identity when it comes to being a complete team. Will they turn it around to stay in the early running for he playoffs and stay competitive? Many Winterhawks fans think so and I'm sure the fellows on the team do as well.
The last three games for Portland were all at home. The first game was against division rivals the Tri-City Americans. The Americans came into this contest tied in the series 1-1, but Portland led in the goal count 10-7. The last two meetings were very close games with one goal deciding the final results (both games ending 4-3 in favor of Tri-City). These two teams will meet yet again in Kennewick, WA on November 4th and again on the 6th to start a long eight-game home stand for the Hawks. This will be games four and five of ten total games between these U.S. Division teams.
After the defeat from the Americans, Portland faced the Kelowna Rockets in back-to-back games, both in Portland. These were the first two games of a four-game series between these two squads. Yet again, the Winterhawks found themselves losing both games by very close margins, 5-3 and 3-2. The difference between these match ups were the defense and the lack of production in the final periods for the Hawks. These two teams will not face one another until January 21st and then again on January 28th, both in Kelowna, B.C.
We now turn our attention to the "Fan Section" where I ask a Winterhawks fan a couple of questions about the current season. This week, I spoke to "The Llama" Jon Alexander. I asked him what he thought were the reasons for the current losing streak the Hawks are currently on; "For the current losing streak, I think it has to do with the pressure from how they had a great hot streak starting the season and that is weighing on them to maintain it." Jon continued, " It is showing the opposing teams that we still have work to do." I also asked Jon if he thought that Mike Johnston can turn things around enough for the team to set up for a playoff run later in the season?; Jon replied "If Mike (Johnston) can get the team back on track." Jon went on in saying "I do not see a deep run into the playoffs this season. I see possibly to at least make it past round 1."
All in all, if Portland can find a way to stay above .500 this season, a playoff run is very possible. However; with only 16 out 72 games in the books, playoffs is the furthest thought in the team's mind. Development and growth is the key to success in the future for the this team right now. With veteran players like Cody Glass, Keegan Iverson, and Skyler McKenzie, it's easy to see the team is in good hands for the next few years. Having Cole Kehler between the pipes will also help the team make strides to be once again feared in the Western Conference.
Next games for Portland:
November 4th: Portland @ Tri-City 7:05pm
November 5th: Portland @ Everett 7:05pm
November 6th: Tri-City @ Portland 5:00pm (game 1 of eight straight at home)
Follow all of the action on radio with Todd Vrooman and Andy Kemper on KPAM, am 860, or online at KPAM.com.
You can also follow Hawk action on Facebook at "Portland Winterhawk live play by play" page. Go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/946672248691074/ and ask to join the fan page.
A special thanks goes out to Jimmy Budinski for providing the photos for my articles. Without him, my articles would just be words on a page.