With two more wins this past weekend, the Portland Winterhawks leaped to first place overall in the US Division and by virtue of games played, the entire WHL. It's a familiar spot for the Hawks who have been at or near the top for the past few years and look to be in top contention again this season.
It ended the first half of the "Central Swing" against teams in Alberta, Canada with a perfect 5-0 record and they'll look for a trip in December back up to Alberta to finish it off. The Hawks took the Kootenay Ice 6-3 in Cranbrook, BC and Spokane Chiefs 4-3 and did so after scoring in the first minute of each game. In the Kootenay game, rookie goaltender Jarrod Schammerhorn recorded his first victory in a Hawks jersey.
The Hawks have registered 72 goals so far in the season, a dozen ahead of the second place team and are on pace to eclipse their goal total from last year. The other thing the Hawks have registered is a now healthy roster. This past weekend was the first time that the Hawks were able to field a roster that had scratches due to numbers instead of injuries, a big necessity as they face off against top teams in the coming month. With the numbers higher, the Hawks moved Zach Paterson back to a junior team in Alberta, but will see him return during the season when players go to tournaments leading to Christmas.
Next for the Hawks in the upcoming week, a meeting with Brandon Wheat Kings who, like the other Eastern teams that have headed west for their visits, have so far registered zero wins vs. US Division teams. The Hawks will face Brandon the night after the Wheat Kings play in Seattle.
It's back on the road for the Winterhawks with 2 tough games in as many nights. They first play the surprisingly tough Seattle Thunderbirds before another game against the Spokane Chiefs. The Chiefs will be looking for a bit of revenge to be sure. Looking a couple of weeks out, the Hawks will get 4 games at home, 2 versus US Division opponents before another couple of road games. During this upcoming month, the Hawks will play the most games against US Division opponents this season and if they do well, could take a strong lead in the division.
The team has started to gel as a unit, made much easier by the recent road trip. The Hawks try to do a unique team bonding experience on the "swing" each year. A few years ago, it was ice skating outdoors in a stick and puck game in Enterprise, OR, this year it was a dude ranch with all the players, coaches and even the broadcaster saddling up. Some fared better than others on the trails, but it's that sort of activity that brings a team closer together.
ICE CHIPS: The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club is still collecting donations for its Shop with a Hawk program. Donations can be made at any home game or with a check sent to PWHBC PO Box 6768 Portland, OR 97228-6768. Tax receipts will be issued on request.
Fans are asked to bring non-perishable food items to the games Saturday November 9 vs. Victoria Royals and Sunday November 10 vs. Regina Pats. Both games will be at the Moda Center. Each donor will get an entry form to drop off at the Booster Club table for a chance to win the opportunity to present the 3 stars following the game. Last year the food amounted to nearly a ton.
Starting November 9 and continuing until the end of the 2nd period intermission on Saturday December 14, the Winterhawks players Christmas ornament auction will get underway. These one of a kind glass ornaments have been painted and signed by each of the Winterhawks players and there are team signed ornaments as well up for auction.
On Friday November 1st there is a viewing party at Nicoli's 17880 SW McEwan Road in Lake Oswego when the Hawks take on Seattle Thunderbirds. The Booster Club will bring a team signed ornament as a silent auction. Check it out and your bid may win!
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, a 501(c)(3) registered charity.