The 2019 portion of the schedule for the Portland Winterhawks (22-11-3-2) began against the Swift Current Broncos (7-28-2-1) in a place close to home for several Winterhawk players including Jaydon Dureau and Kade Nolan. Jaydon and Kade each recorded points as Portland defeated Swift Current 5-3 in a tight contest Friday evening.
Dureau scored the game-winning goal in the third period against some familiar faces. “I played with [Matthew] Culling and [Eric] Houk” Jaydon said after the game. “We were a line there (Regina Pat Canadians Midget in the SMHL) for a little bit. Little competitive there, with him [Culling] scoring there. Then for me getting one back so he didn’t have the edge.”
Culling and the Broncos showed a strong first period after falling behind early.
Lane GIlliss scored his eighth goal of the season after receiving a pass from Michal Kvasnica. The 19-year-old opened the scoring 2:13 into the contest.
Swift Current’s Ethan O’Rourke found time and space in front of Winterhawks’ goalie Shane Farkas almost eight minutes later to even the score.
The WHL’s leading point and goal scorer, Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland the lead on a one-timer from the slot on a pass from Ryan Hughes. The overage forward continued where he left off, as he was announced as the WHL player of the month for December.
Kvasnica’s second point of the night was a memorable goal, but perhaps more for Kade Nolan. For Nolan he recorded his first WHL point with the primary assist on Kvasnica’s sixth of the season.
When asked about seeing his name on the scoresheet for the first time Nolan said, “It feels great to get the first one; nice to have that off my back.”
The next shift for the Broncos not only was a good response shift, but it lead to a goal. Ben King found a streaking Matthew Culling who shot glove side on Shane Farkas cutting the Winterhawks’ lead to 3-2 as the teams combined to score five goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Portland carried the play in the second period, but Ethan Regnier’s seventh goal of the period was the lone tally. Alex Moar picked up his sixth assist of the season.
With the score tied entering the final period, two of the Winterhawks’ Saskatchewan natives stepped up their play. Dureau said, “[Reece] Newkirk and me coming back to Saskatchewan, our homeland, it gets a little more energy out of you every day now.” The play started when “Newkirk made a really good play, took the guy on wide” Dureau mentioned. “We had an open lane and caught them in a bad situation in our own defensive zone. Then he [Seth Jarvis] gave me the puck, and I prayed for the best, and it went in.”
Joel Hofer kept the Broncos in the game until the final minutes making big save after big save. When the final horn sounded, the 18-year-old netminder stopped 43 of 47 shots.
Portland’s Jake Gricius empty net goal accounted for Portland’s fifth goal of the game and their 48th shot.
At the other end, Shane Farkas won his 21st game and stopped 20 of the 23 Broncos’ shots.
The road trip for Portland continues tomorrow in Moose Jaw. The team is spending Friday night in Swift Current before departing for Moose Jaw in the morning. Newkirk has been looking forward to playing in his hometown for a while now.
Earlier this season he mentioned he circled January 5th on his calendar as soon as he saw the schedule.
Kade Nolan enjoyed spending a few days in Swift Current and it was special for him to record his first point on Friday, “It was really nice playing close to home. Was able to play in a rink I played in growing up as a kid which was a great feeling. Had the opportunity to have family come out and watch; always great to see them and have them support me.”
Dureau is looking forward to the rest of the trip, “It is going to be a good road trip for us. We know what to expect and have some good video. So, we have a good idea what the teams are going to be like. We should move along pretty good here.”
– John Ludvig returned from serving his two-game suspension against Tri-City.
– Matthew Quigley sat out his second of four for a knee major taken against Seattle on December 29th. He is eligible to return for the game on Wednesday in Regina.
– Brendan De Jong continues to improve, but is still out with a concussion. On Friday he was able to return to practice wearing a non-contact jersey.
– Cody Glass missed the game as he is making his return from World Juniors. The team has not announced when the captain will return to the lineup.