(Moose Jaw, SK) Reece Newkirk and the Portland Winterhawks (23-11-3-2) continued their eastern road trip Saturday in Moose Jaw against the Warriors (21-9-5-1). Newkirk, a Moose Jaw native, playing for the first time as a WHL player back in his hometown came out flying early. The momentum never ceased, and the Winterhawks defeated the Warriors 6-0.
Portland’s line of Newkirk, Seth Jarvis, and Jaydon Dureau started the game and set the tone from the drop of the puck. The trio kept the puck deep in the Warriors’ zone and established the forecheck.
On their second shift, Newkirk found a rebound in front to give Portland a 1-0 lead. The goal 3:47 into the game ended up being the game-winning goal. After the game Newkirk spoke with winterhawks.com, “The team came out hot with my goal there. Cicek came in high, and I gave it to him. I thought he was going to score, but it came to me, and I was glad to get that one. I couldn’t have done it without Cicek.”
Reece continued with winterhawks.com, “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for like a year and half, since I first came into the league. When I came out in warmups and saw the heads out there [fans had giant pictures of Reece in the stands] I was shook, ‘oh my goodness.’ It was great to have them here, friends and family supporting me, it was awesome. It is something I will never forget having them here. They helped me through tonight, and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Shane Farkas’ play was steady all night long as the Warriors generated 23 shots on the 19-year-old goalie. Josh Brook hit a post early, but Moose Jaw was held off the score sheet for the first time this season. The shutout was Farkas’ third this season.
The top line for Portland doubled the lead after Joachim Blichfeld hit Jake Gricius with a pass as the Colorado Springs native drove to the net. Gricius’ goal was his 17th of the season and his third in his last four games.
Moose Jaw had two power play opportunities in the first 20 minutes but their shots were not able to find the back of the net. Josh Brook quarterbacked the power play and set up several quality chances.
Lane Gilliss and Clay Hanus each scored for Portland before the first period expired. Gilliss’ tally was his ninth of the season after a pass from 16-year-old Cross Hanas.
Hanus’ fourth of the season was a result of extended zone time by Portland. Moose Jaw collapsed down in front of starting goalie Adam Evanoff, but the 17-year-old, draft eligible defenseman fired a shot from the point sending the Winterhawks to the locker room with a 4-0 cushion.
To start the second period, overage goalie Brodan Salmond entered the game trying to provide a spark for the Warriors. Unfortunately for Moose Jaw, Seth Jarvis had other plans. 18 seconds into the period the second line for Portland struck again.
Jarvis finished the play, but Dureau and Newkirk each contributed towards the goal.
A scary moment occurred just under seven minutes into the second period. Ryan Hughes and Matthew Benson collided knees in the neutral zone. The play resulted in a five minute major and game misconduct for Benson. Portland’s top ranked power play went to work for five minutes.
Moose Jaw’s penalty killing, entered the evening killing 76.5% of penalties, however stole the show. The Warriors were in perfect position blocking passing and shooting lanes. Both Warrior units kept Portland to the perimeter for the majority of the power play. The few shots Portland got through, Salmond stopped.
The third period started similar to the second as Portland scored early. Blichfeld’s 36th of the year came 1:11 into the final frame. The sixth goal for Portland included an assist by Nick Cicek, his third of the game.
The 18-year-old defenseman is playing some of his best hockey after being rotated in-and-out of the lineup earlier this season. However, with the injury to Brendan De Jong, and Matthew Quigley serving a suspension, the Winnipeg native is making the most of his opportunity.
In his first 16 games, Cicek had one assist, which came in the first game of the season. Over his last four games, Nick’s contributed eight assists. During those four games the 2015 7th round pick’s +/- rating increased from +3 to +15.
After the game Cicek spoke about his hot streak, “I’m getting a lot of ice time, I think I’m playing well, getting a lot of shots to the net which is helping. I’m trying to play offensive, so I think it is all working right now. When you are playing multiple games you get into a groove, once you get into a groove everything comes easy and you build confidence. The teammates are making the passes to me, they are getting open, they are making it easy on me, helping me out.”
Tensions rose in the third period with two separate fights. First Jaydon Dureau and Kjell Kjemhus dropped the gloves. Then about ten minutes later Clay Hanus and Tristin Langan each received five minutes for fighting.
Moose Jaw pushed hard in the final few moments of the game, but the game finished 6-0.
Brodan Salmond stopped 25 of 27 shots in relief while starter Adam Evanoff saved 7 of 11.
The Warriors have three games left on their home stand, and will welcome Calgary into the Mosaic Place on Wednesday. After the home stand Moose Jaw embarks on a 14-day road trip playing the B.C. Division and Central Division teams.
For Portland, their eastern road trip continues on Tuesday in Brandon. The game against the Wheat Kings will be a homecoming of sort for five players. Forwards Cody Glass and Seth Jarvis, defenseman Nick Cicek, and goalie Dante Giannuzzi all are Winnipeg natives. Affiliate player Tyson Kozak is from nearby Souris.
Cicek commented about playing close to home, “[Friday] I got to see my parents which is nice. We are going to Brandon which is really close to home, so that will be a lot of fun. I should have my whole family and friends [there], it should be a good time.”
Cody Glass is expected to return to the lineup for Portland on Tuesday after getting a few days off after the captain returned from World Juniors.
– Kjell Kjemhus picked up a ten minute misconduct after the game was complete.
– Matthew Quigley served his third game of his four game suspension.
– Brendan De Jong remains day-to-day, but remains in concussion protocol.
– 11 Winterhawks skaters earned a point after 13 Friday in Swift Current.