The Portland Winterhawks have done it again. After a lukewarm start to the season, the Hawks rang up 11 straight victories against some of the league's best teams and found themselves moving from the bottom to the top. Not only did they overtake Spokane and Seattle in the US Division, but they also took over sole possession of the WHL top spot in the process. It's the gelling of the team while on the road that has contributed to the strong work ethic on the ice.
Coming back to earth is always tough when you win 11 straight, but upon returning from the road, they lost two close games, one in regulation and one in overtime versus Tri City and Victoria. Following the Victoria loss in overtime, the Winterhawks had to rebound the next night against Regina Pats, a team they see only once a year. It became an extremely physical contest, one that Hawks won on both the physical aspect and the scoreboard. The 5-2 win over Regina put the Hawks back in the driver's seat in the US Division. Then it was a battle with Seattle.
Longtime rival Seattle Thunderbirds played a rare Tuesday night matchup with the Hawks in Portland and the 108 penalty minutes should tell you it was a very hard fought battle. The score was a 10-2 drubbing by the Winterhawks and for rookie Paul Bittner who scored his first hat trick and his first ever four point game, a night he won't soon forget. Thirteen players took part in the scoring and showed the power that has become the trademark of the Winterhawks over the past five seasons.
The Winterhawks promotion for free Jumbo Jacks from Jack in the Box if the Hawks score four goals in a game has been very interesting in that the Hawks only seem to win if they score 4 or more goals. The Jacks were flying Tuesday as the team made it happen in the first 14 minutes of the game chasing the starting Seattle netminder out, enroute to a 6-0 lead at the end of the first period and a 10-2 victory.
The Hawks now hit the road for weekend games against US Division second place holders Everett Silvertips, followed by a weakened Kamloops Blazers team that can show a bit of bite when they want to. The Hawks will return home Friday, November 22 against Spokane and then head to Seattle for another Saturday night special.
Following those games, Nic Petan, Bredan Leipsic, Derrick Pouliot and Captain Taylor Leier from the Hawks will take part in the annual Subway Super Series, which features top CHL players in Russia. The first four games will pit the QMJHL and OHL teams against Russia in Eastern Canada and then the WHL players will play Russia in Red Deer and Lethbridge on November 27 and 28.
Ice Chips: The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club collected over 800 pounds of food for the Sunshine Division at the last weekend's games and is now set for the 1st annual "Shop with a Hawk" event where underprivileged youth will be going Christmas shopping with Winterhawks players.
Friday, November 22 is a special ticket event for the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club against Spokane. Through a special link on the main page at http://www.pwhbc.com, one can purchase 200 level tickets normally $24.75 for just $15. $5 from each ticket sold goes to the Booster Club to help subsidize the Shop with a Hawk program. Tickets at that special price may be ordered up to 4 hours prior to the start of the game. There are 2 other dates on this special: January 4 and February 1.
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, a 501(c)(3) registered charity.