At the start of the season, critics and fans alike all predicted a "so-so" season of ups and downs and growing pains. No one predicted a start like this. Portland has an 8-3 record and have a layer tied for the most points in the WHL in Cody Glass (17). The Hawks also have a goaltender who is second in the league with six wins (Cole Kehler) and are coming off of a tough eight game road swing where they finished 6-2. In my previous report, I mentioned that if Portland could come out of this Eastern swing being above .500, it would be a win for the team’s morale. I don’t believe anyone expected them to go 6-2 and play as well as they did. This team has the communication, passion, and the will to win that no one expected. Portland has also been near the top of the standings since the start of the season. They are currently 3rd in the Western Conference, only four points behind leading Prince George Cougars (10-2 20 points) and only one point behind the Everett Silvertips (8-1-1 17 Points) for the lead in the U.S. Division. The Winterhawks have shown that they can be a team to be feared. Although it is very early in the season, there is no denying the level of excitement that is coming from the Portland faithful.
From the Fans:
In my new section I am calling; "From the Fans", I will be featuring reactions from Winterhawk fans about the Hawks as well as how the current season is going.
This week, I asked long time and devoted Portland fan Gina Capsouto-Acosta: how excited she was about the quick start? "Very Excited!" she said. "The players looked good in training camp, but I didn’t feel like they were especially strong individually. It’s great to see how well they are coming together as a team!". Since there is much debate on whom the better goaltender is between Michael Bullion and Cole Kehler, I asked Gina about whom she thinks the better netminder is? "Kehler. He has more veteran experience, and seems to not let his emotions come apart after giving up a goal." She went on in saying; "Bullion needs more low pressure game experience to build his confidence, I feel.". Many fans would agree with Gina that Kehler has been the better goaltender so far and would also agree that Bullion just needs the experience to get better. As the past games, this year, have shown, Kehler has the better record and also the experience. As for as the quick start. No one expected this from the players that were put together, but somehow, this team is playing like veterans and it is transposing into wins.
The long road trip for the Hawks has concluded, here are the results of those games;
Portland Winterhawks (6) @ Seattle Thunderbirds (1) W
Portland Winterhawks (3) @ Swift Current Broncos (7) L
Portland Winterhawks (5) @ Prince Albert Raiders (3) W
Portland Winterhawks (5) @ Moose Jaw Warriors (2) W
Portland Winterhawks (1) @ Saskatoon Blades (3) L
Portland Winterhawks (7) @ Brandon Wheat Kings (6) W
Portland Winterhawks (5) @ Regina Pats (4) OT W
Portland Winterhawks (3) @ Spokane Chiefs (2) SO W
Coming up for Portland is the Tri-City Americans at home and then back on the road to take on their hated rivals, the Seattle Thunderbirds at the ShoWare Center in Kent. The Hawks need to continue to win these Division games to make it easier to get a playoff spot at the end of the season, yes it is early in the season and the playoffs are many months away, however; winning these division games now, will loom important when March finally comes.
Catch all of the action on KPAM 860 (Portland) with Todd Vrooman and Andy Kemper. Online at KPAM.com
You can also follow all of the action on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/946672248691074/ (ask to join this page as it is a invite only page)
photo courtesy of Jimmy Budinski