Winterhawks bring the energy
The Portland Winterhawks brought plenty of energy to their first home game in nearly a month — a 4-1 win Saturday over the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Winterhawks coach/GM/VP Mike Johnston liked the energy his team played with against Brandon, especially in the first period. He noted that teams sometimes come out flat in the first home game after a long road trip, but that this team carried a strong week of practice into the Brandon game.
Portland was second in the U.S. Division through Sunday with six wins, three losses and one shootout loss (13 points). Next comes a stiffer challenge from the Prince Albert Raiders at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum.
• Heading into a Tuesday game at Seattle, the defending Western Hockey League champion Raiders were unbeaten (7-0-3-0, 17 points).
Prince Albert graduated some firepower from last season, but the Raiders don't lack scorers and have experience on defense. Prince Albert allowed a league-best 19 goals against through 10 games. Part of that success is staying out of the penalty box. The Raiders had been shorthanded only 31 times through 10 games, the least in the league.
The Raiders are experienced and the low number of penalty minutes reflects a team that learned the value of avoiding penalties during the championship run last spring, Johnston said.
The Winterhawks, by contrast, have been shorthanded 53 times.
Portland's special teams have been good. By scoring on six of their last 16 power plays, the Hawks have climbed to first in the WHL in power-play efficiency (25.6%).
Center Aliaksei Protas from Belarus, a third-round pick of the Washington Capitals in June's NHL draft, had six goals and nine assists and was a plus-12 entering Tuesday's game in Kent, Washington.
• The Winterhawks continue to get contributions throughout the lineup. With a goal and assist on Saturday, Seth Jarvis leads Portland with 12 points. But 16 of the 21 skaters on the roster have scored at least one goal, and four players are averaging more than one point per game. Reece Newkirk has a team-high 10 assists (and one goal). Defenseman Johnny Ludvig has six goals and five assists, and rookie Swiss forward Simon Knak has four goals and seven assists.
• Winterhawks goalie Joel Hofer has been named to Team WHL for the Canada-Russia Series. Team WHL plays two games against Team Russia, on Nov. 13 at Saskatoon and Nov. 14 at Prince Albert.
Hofer was named the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending Oct. 13, during which he stopped 79 of 82 shots in going 2-0-0-1.
Hofer was solid again against Brandon. The only goal against came on a power play when a centering pass changed direction after hitting a skate.
• After playing host to Prince Albert on Wednesday, the Winterhawks visit Spokane on Friday. Their next home game is on Nov. 2 against Seattle.
— Paul Danzer
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