BY STUART KEMP via Oregon Sports News
The Portland Winterhawks seem to be a bit buoyed from the announcement this week where they gained Honorable Mention status in the CHL Poll. The Hawks did so even on a bit of a losing skid but were strong enough that they were able to keep pace with the Everett Silvertips.
The Tips vaulted to third overall in the poll and saw Prince Albert gain traction back on home ice. The Edmonton Oil Kings, who had been holding strong in the poll, fell down to the eighth position. Oshawa, who started the year with strong placings in the poll, dropped down to seventh. Here are the current rankings of the CHL teams:
(1) Sherbrooke Phoenix, (2) Moncton Wildcats, (3) Everett Silvertips, (4) Chicoutimi Sagueneens, (5) Prince Albert Raiders, (6) Windsor Spitfires, (7) Oshawa Generals, (8) Edmonton Oil Kings, (9) Ottawa 67’s, and (10) Peterborough Petes, with honourable mention to the Guelph Storm, Rimouski Oceanic, and Portland Winterhawks.
With that, the Hawks stepped onto home ice to face the Vancouver Giants, a team they had become very familiar with, facing them twice in the past week and a half and finishing off the series against them with this game. In the past two meetings, the Giants held tough and this was no exception. Holding Vancouver to no powerplays is a tough feat, but that is exactly what the Hawks did in their battle. Portland scored once on the man advantage on three attempts.
It started with Portland’s Kishan Gervais, who dazzles more than just a few people with his short stature and incredible moves. Gervais found himself in the slot and made no mistake as he put one past Trent Miner midway through the contest to give the home side a one-goal advantage. Jake Gricius got into the act with a great give-and-go with Cross Hanas as they spread the Vancouver goaltender flat and scored to give Portland the 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Just over six minutes into the second frame, Vancouver cut the lead in half with a goal from Bowen Byrum who has proven his worth to the Colorado Avalanche drafted fourth overall in this past year’s NHL Draft. Vancouver kept pressing, but a costly penalty towards the end of the game proved the achilles heel for the Giants. In trying to get Trent Miner off the ice for the extra attacker, the Giants sent out another player ahead of Trent’s arrival. The result was too many men on the ice and Portland was on the powerplay. With just over twenty seconds left in the game, Jake Gricius added to his goal on the night with another, preventing Vancouver from trying to mount a comeback and giving Portland a 3-1 win, In the game, Vancouver outshot Portland 28-21.
Portland now plays a huge game on Saturday when they face the US Division-leading Everett Silvertips and then look to face the Saskatoon Blades on Sunday with both game taking place in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Hawks with those two games will then hit the road for four. They start off in Kamloops with a pair against the Blazers who destroyed Seattle Thunderbirds 10-1 in the last outing and then in an odd scheduling quirk, will travel to Prince George to face the Cougars and then a few days later will face the same Cougars in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game.