Friday evening in Portland was an offensive night as the Winterhawks (8-6-0-1) defeated the Victoria Royals (9-4-0-0) 7-3. Portland finally found some depth scoring as seven different players scored while Victoria was paced by 18-year-old Kaid Oliver.
Jared Freadrich scored the first of four goals between the teams in the opening frame. Freadrich one-timed a pass from Joachim Blichfeld on the power play to score against his former team. Winterhawks assistant captain Brendan De Jong said, “we love Fready and were ecstatic on the bench for him getting that goal. He has been an awesome addition to the team this year.” Head coach Mike Johnston also felt Freadrich’s goal was important, “it was a big goal by Jared on the power play as he was playing against his former team.”
Portland took a too-many-men penalty at 10:53 of the first period giving Victoria their second power play. Defenseman Scott Walford fired the puck from his own blue line as D-Jay Jerome busted down the right side beating the Portland defense to the puck and negated any icing call. Jerome picked his head up, sent a perfect pass to Kaid Oliver, who then made no mistake putting the puck behind Shane Farkas. Royals head coach Dan Price gave credit to assistant coach J.F.Best for the set play, “who works a lot with our power play. He saw a little opening there we could take advantage. It doesn’t always work out, we gave it a shot and it fortunately worked out here.”
Kaid Oliver spent some time in Portland, so these games mean a little more to him. “It is really cool. I’ve seen the other side of it,” Oliver said, “We billeted guys on the Winterhawks. It is kind of cool coming back here and playing. I have some friends in town here who came to watch. I love both buildings here. The Moda is really cool being a big building, but the Coliseum has that much history. Fans here are amazing and super loud.” Oliver isn’t the only player to have a connection with the hometown of his opponent. Brendan De Jong is a Victoria native who is playing with Portland.
De Jong restored Portland’s one goal lead less than two minutes after Oliver’s goal as Portland was strong on the power play to start the game. Victoria is one of the more aggressive teams when killing a penalty. Johnston said after the game, “our power play has to be able to react to that type of pressure. I think they did at times, and found the open guy. We had two goals on the power play. In our meeting we talked about it, prepared for it, but when you are out there on the ice live you have to make faster decisions.”
Price spoke about the approach to putting pressure on the opposing team’s power play, “We definitely try to pressure as much as we can, that is no secret, everyone knows that. Portland did a good job against that and created some time and space. They found a few opportunities to get it through and were rewarded with a few power play goals.”
Portland held a 3-1 advantage entering the second period after Reece Newkirk scored his ninth goal of the season. The Royals scored two goals in a five minute stretch evening the score at three before the media timeout. Oliver would score his second of the evening just as a Portland penalty expired; however, the goal of the night belonged to D-Jay Jerome. Jerome intercepted a Freadrich pass, went in alone on a breakaway, put his stick between his legs, and fired a shot top-shelf. The goal was highlight reel worthy but Price was more excited about, “the fundamentals away from the puck that got him the chance.” Price commented saying, “he had his stick on the ice which is important for closing passing lanes.”
Each team had some challenges with puck management on Friday. Johnston said, “I think it was an issue both ways. We mishandled the puck at times that allowed them to have some turnover opportunities. They did the same and we got some chances.” The game winning goal for Portland came as a result of a turnover along the boards by Victoria. Gricius intercepted a pass before dishing the puck off to Hughes who beat Outhouse on the blocker side.
The backbreaker goal for Victoria was Glass’ goal at 15:48 of the third period. Victoria was pressing and was trying to breakout from behind their own net; however, a turnover went right to Glass’ stick in the slot. The Vegas Golden Knights first round pick wasted little time sending the puck over Outhouse’s outstretched glove. Glass was pleased with his team’s performance on Friday, “I think we countered them really well off the start. They are a really good team over there, they had a hot start to the season. The two power play goals off the start gave us a little help.”
Before the night was over, 18-year-old rookie Haydn Delorme scored his first WHL goal. “It means a lot to me,” Haydn said post-game, “I have been waiting a while, when the time came I was really happy. Yeah, it was an empty net, but a goal is a goal.” Delorme figures to receive an expanded role the next two games with Jarvis away at the U17 World Hockey Challenge and Glass missing the game against Spokane on Sunday. For Delorme, he just wants to “seize the moment. I want to be consistent and do whatever I can to help the team win.”
The two teams play again Saturday, this time in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 6:00. For Price and the Royals they are “not going to change too much tomorrow night. We need to be a little better defensively of course. Clean a few things up, mostly just fundamentals. A few fundamental breakdowns we need to be better at, but nothing drastically structurally.” Dan Price also confirmed the plan is for Outhouse to start again.
Glass and De Jong both spoke about “keeping our pace up” as they look ahead to Saturday’s contest. Glass also commented, “They were pressuring us pretty hard and dominating us in the defensive zone in the second period. We just need to counter their game, play quick, and move the puck up.” Johnston wouldn’t comment which goalie will start for Portland.
– Jared Freadrich returned from his one game suspension he received after a cross checking penalty against Kamloops last Saturday. Last season Freadrich played for the Royals, so he is facing his former team for the first time this season.
– Nick Perna took his turn as the 6th defenseman in Portland’s defensive rotation including Kade Nolan and Nick Cicek.
– Glass will play tomorrow night before departing to represent the WHL in the CIBC Canada Russia series in Kamloops. Earlier this week Glass was announced as part of Team WHL’s leadership group, he will wear an “A”. Glass talked about the honor and playing in this series, “To be a leader with all those good players on that team is special. I’m really looking forward to it. There are a lot of good players on the team, and it is always fun playing against Russia.”
– Robbie Fromm-Delorme returned from a lower-body injury giving the Winterhawks 12 healthy forwards for Friday’s game. He had a good first shift back drawing a penalty ultimately leading to Freadrich’s goal. His second shift was strong as he made a great play defensively and set up Dureau for a chance that hit the post.