The Portland Winterhawks (16-10-0-2) offense continued to shine over the weekend as they hosted the Kootenay Ice (7-20-3-1) in the two teams only match-up this season. After scoring eight goals on Saturday against Spokane, Portland reached double digits in a 10-2 victory on Sunday night inside the Moda Center.
Coming into the night head coach Mike Johnston expressed concern, “I knew coming into the game it was going to be a tough game for us coming off the emotional night like last night. A team we only play once during the year. For us, our preparation, I was worried, I was concerned because we have a young team. I thought we came out and put them back on their heels. I just liked our start, and it set the precedent for the game.”
The start was exactly what the Winterhawks wanted when facing a team playing their third game in as many nights. Joachim Blichfeld scored only 28 seconds into the game after Ryan Hughes kept the puck in the zone. At times during the first period Kootenay was defending Portland 5-on-5 the way teams kill penalties. Before 20 minutes could expire off the clock, Portland scored four goals.
Blichfeld’s second goal of the night came via the power play after a nice passing play between Glass and Brendan De Jong. Jaydon Dureau netted his fifth goal of the season after Gricius sent a backhand pass to the 17-year-old rookie. Jaydon’s initial attempt was stopped, but Dureau stayed with the play and deposited the rebound into the open net.
Michal Kvasnica gave the Winterhawks a 4-0 lead after he deflected Jared Freadrich’s shot from the blue line. Kvasnica has found the score sheet in two of the last four games after only once in his first 23.
For the second night in a row, 12 Winterhawks players contributed at least a point. Cody Glass and Blichfeld again paced Portland’s offense. Glass scored twice and assisted on three goals which extended his points streak to 14 games.
Blichfeld’s performance on Sunday was equally impressive as he completed his second hat trick on the season. The overage import also had an assist on Glass’ second goal. Blichfeld described his night as “one of those nights where everything went my way. I had a lot of fun out there and it turned out good. To score a hat trick is always good, but I couldn’t have done it without my linemates.”
Glass spoke after the game about the chemistry he has with Blichfeld, “We find areas and easily pass to them. We are circling around the puck and always want it, hungry for it, and work for it which is a big part of our game.”
The Winterhawks were facing a familiar face in Brad Ginnell, who was traded last season. Glass said playing against Ginnell “was a little bit different. It was kind of weird playing against him. Then again, you are out there and it is just another hockey game and you have to just forget about that stuff.”
Ginnell also said “it felt a little weird as I still know a lot of guys on the team. I was excited to play them, excited coming into the game. Obviously not what we wanted as a team, but we are a young team in the making.”
On Saturday the Winterhawks fans threw teddy bears on the ice. On Sunday, they threw hats as Blichfeld’s third goal came on the power play after Glass deked a player after gaining zone entry.
After the hats were cleaned up, the Ice replaced starting goalie Duncan McGovern with Jesse Makaj. The move gave Kootenay a spark as Nolan Orzeck deflected River Fahey’s shot on an odd-man-rush up the ice.
The comeback attempt was thwarted almost immediately as Glass scored on the power play just 45 seconds later. Glass’ tenth goal of the season restored Portland’s five goal advantage.
Peyton Krebs, rated an “A” prospect by Central Scouting for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, scored his 11th goal of the season on the power play. Krebs said, “on the power play I like to look for guys, but this time just decided to shoot that one.” The 5,069 Winterhawks fans in attendance saw why the Okotoks, Alberta native will hear his name called early in the first round this summer.
Johnston spoke on Saturday about preparing his team to play against a player like Krebs. Sunday, you could tell right off the start Portland had a specific game plan. After the game Johnston said, “Through the first three quarters of the game we had Glass’ line against him. We said, one thing we are going to try to neutralize was Krebs. We couldn’t let him beat us. I saw their game in Seattle and he got three goals and almost willed the team to push back on Seattle almost winning the game. Krebs can do that single handily.”
Portland’s determination to neutralize Krebs impacted their defensive pairings as Johnston “played Ludvig and Quigley against him in addition to Glass’ line. We know he is a game breaker and is going to be a real good NHL player and top pick this year.”
Glass was impressed by Krebs’ ability, “He is really good and really skilled, especially for being 17. I feel like once strength comes it will be a huge win for him. He has all the skill in the world and works hard. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Glass’ line not only limited Krebs only to the power play goal, but scored again on early in the third period. After Portland held a 7-2 advantage, Johnston rested his top line and gave his other three lines an opportunity.
Reece Newkrik netted his 16th of the season after showing poise on a 3-on-2 rush. He stopped near the hash marks and fired a shot above the pad and below the blocker of Makaj for his 16th of the season.
Lane Gilliss capped the scoring with his fourth and fifth goals of the season. Lane’s second goal, and Portland’s tenth, was as unconventional of a goal as there has been all season. Gilliss tracked the puck as it was deflected high in the air. Laying on his backside, Lane backhanded the puck top-shelf. On a night with nine other goals, the play may go overlooked, but a tremendous effort.
Glass and Blichfeld were not the only players to have a strong showing. Jared Freadrich set a new career high as he assisted on five of Portland’s ten goals. Freadrich said after the game, “I mean, I was just moving the puck quick. Guys were burying their chances. I just tried to get the puck to guys and they were shooting it and it was going in. A few of them [his assists] may be lucky, but credit to the guys who scored the goals.”
All-in-all, the Winterhawks scored 18 goals in less than 24 hours. Freadrich said, “I think we picked up where we left off after last night. Scoring 18 goals on the weekend doesn’t happen all the time; we don’t expect it to. I think it was a really good weekend for our team. A lot of confidence for our team after a little bit of a tough stretch before that.”
Portland had a late-game power play opportunity and Johnston gave some of the younger players an opportunity instead of the normal power play units. One of the players given an opportunity was rookie defenseman Kade Nolan.
Blichfeld described the last power play, “Everybody is friends on this team and we were trying to get Kade his first goal of the season. He almost got it and everybody was excited for him. Hopefully it will come soon.”
The Portland bench was all standing and banging their sticks on the bench as the rookie defenseman quarterbacked the power play. Glass wanted to pass the experience down after he was in a similar spot three years ago. “I remember when I was 16, I was in the exact same spot with [Dominic] Turgeon and [Keegan] Iverson yelling at me,” Glass said. “It went a long way for me so hopefully it went a long way for them. It is exciting to see those guys out there and are a good group of guys who play hard.”
Johnston said, “It is great for those kids to get some power play time and some opportunities, minutes they don’t normally get in a game. Will go a long way for them.”
Portland is now off until Friday when they face the Prince George Cougars for the first time this season. Freadrich said, “We don’t know a lot about them yet as we haven’t played them yet this year. We will know more after the pre-scout, need to play like this weekend; play hard and strong in our zone first. Things will come in the offensive zone.”
– Kade Nolan was the sixth defenseman for Portland on Sunday; his 12th game of the season.
– Portland finished 4-for-6 on the power play and Johnston felt it was a threat, “Our power play has been good all year. Kyle [Gustafson] does a really good job with it. I know some nights we don’t score, but we are pretty consistent. We are a threat on the power play. I think teams when they look at us are intimidated to take a penalty. They are nervous that they can’t go out of their way to be overly physical with us because it could cost them.”
– Ludvig led the team in plus/minus on Sunday with a +4. 15 of 18 skaters finished +1 or better, and no skater was negative.
– Portland finished the game with 46 shots.
– Glass now leads the WHL in assists with 40. He passed Edmonton’s Trey Fix-Wolansky who is now two behind the Winterhawks captain.