(Everett, WA) The start of the WHL season officially kicked off for the Portland Winterhawks (1-0) as they started a three-in-three against the Spokane Chiefs (0-1). The two U.S. Division rivals scored a combined 11 goals, and Portland defeated Spokane Friday afternoon 6-5.
“I thought there were a lot of good signs,” Winterhawks head coach Mike Johnston said after the game. “I thought that our puck movement was good. We were playing a good, skating transition game. They play a similar game to the way we play; they are a quick transition team.”
As both teams get back into the flow of WHL action, one area of focus will be limiting the amount of penalties. Both the Chiefs and Winterhawks had seven power-play chances. Johnston felt there were probably “a few too many penalties in the game, it takes the flow out of the game.”
Lane Gilliss, Robbie Fromm-Delorme, and Dawson Pasternak all scored on the man advantage for Portland. Spokane got two man-advantage goals from defenseman Bobby Russell.
Chiefs head coach Manny Viveriros was overall pleased with his team’s performance, “It was good. We’ve only had two games to really get working on what we want to work on as a team. Everything else right from penalty kill to (the) power play in a game situation we have not really practiced until we got here today. I was happy with the kid’s efforts.”
As the preseason progresses, Viveriros wants “to work on getting rid of those summer habits. As far as kids playing summer hockey and now they get into structured hockey.”
The structure of the Portland penalty kill and power play was something Robbie Fromm-Delorme was learning in Friday’s game. “It is just experience. I was thrown out there for the (power play) and penalty kill too, and I was a little confused in the beginning. As the game went on it definitely felt more comfortable, and hopefully more as the season goes on.”
Fromm-Delorme netted two goals against the Chiefs.
“I was standing in front (of the net) basically. In today’s game that’s where you have to go to get goals. Going into the season I’m definitely going to try and do that a lot more than I did last year,” Fromm-Delorme said.
Johnston liked what he saw from Fromm-Delorme on Friday, “I just like his work ethic and how he’s come into camp, basically how he finished last year. He worked for his goals, got opportunities, and was around the net. Thought he played with energy, and it was good to see; and he can make plays. He just has to keep that work ethic as high as he did today.”
Several of Portland’s younger, less experienced players showed well according to Johnston, “A lot of young guys showed some positive things. I thought the ice was really rough out there, so it’s tough to handle the puck. I thought the defense did a good job under pressure on average ice.”
Dawson Pasternak scored the game-winning goal while Jonah Bevington and Jack O’Brien contributed two assists. Rookie defenseman Kurtis Smythe also found the score sheet with an assist.
Joel Hofer started in net for the Winterhawks and stopped 22 of 27 shots while Lukáš Pařík made 25 saves on 31 shots.
The two teams are back in action tomorrow.
Portland has the early game, starting at 11:30 AM, when they face the Vancouver Giants.
Spokane plays at 7:00 when they face the host Everett Silvertips.