Saturday night the Veterans Memorial Coliseum hosted the rematch of the Victoria Royals (9-5-0-0) and the Portland Winterhawks (9-6-0-1). The Winterhawks won the first contest on Friday, and were able to defeat the Royals 2-1 on Hawks Fight Cancer night.
Prior to the game, the Winterhawks honored several cancer survivors and one was 18-year-old Mason Mannek’s mom. Portland used the energy from the pre-game ceremony to their advantage as they fired 14 shots at Victoria goalie Griffen Outhouse. Mannek had an extra step in his game and was strong all night. He blocked several shots, drew a penalty, had a game-high 7 shots on net, and also got into a fight with D-Jay Jerome. After the game Mannek spoke about having his mom honored, “It means the world, she deserves this. She is a warrior and having her recognized in front of all these fans and in front of the organization was great and meant a lot to me and my family.”
For Winterhawks head coach Mike Johnston he felt, “it was a really good series against a very good team. I think Victoria is a strong hockey club. I think any time you can play those types of series, for our guys it gives them a taste of what playoff action is like. I felt that was a heated series, emotional, and was very tight.”
Victoria was down several key players, Dante Hannoun missed last night’s game, but after playing the game last night, Victoria was without leading scorer Kaid Oliver and top defenseman Ralph Jarratt. Outhouse spoke post-game about playing without them, “I thought we were really good tonight. I was happy with how we played defensively and offensively. Missing three of our best players, I thought the other guys really stepped up and everybody did what they had to do.” Going into the game after losing 7-3 on Friday, Outhouse said they “had a talk about it in the room. Guys have to step up, we can’t go through the motions. If we do go through the motions it would be the same score as last night. Everybody was aware of that, we didn’t have as much skill in the lineup as we normally do, everyone stepped up and played their role.”
Outhouse bounced back with a strong performance. Portland registered 38 shots and scored twice in the second period. Cross Hanas started the scoring after Cody Glass used his speed in the neutral zone to create a 2-on-1. Glass waited patiently for the passing lane to open before firing a pass to Hanas who just had to direct the puck by Outhouse. The Winterhawks doubled their advantage with a power play goal by Joachim Blichfeld just as Victoria had killed off 29 seconds of 5-on-3. Portland would hold the 2-0 lead until there was 5:31 left in the third period.
Dino Kambeitz scored on the power play while Brendan De Jong sat for interference. The Royals worked hard throughout the third period, ultimately sending 13 shots towards Shane Farkas in the final frame. Dan Price, Royals head coach, pulled Outhouse with 3:22 remaining in the third period. The best chance for Victoria came on a cross-ice pass to Jerome who one-timed a shot but Farkas was able to push from left to right to preserve the Winterhawks lead. Price said, “Portland earned a hard-fought victory but we also felt we were in a position to win as well.”
For Victoria, they are now off until Friday when they return home to play the Spokane Chiefs. Price sees positives in this weekend, “We definitely don’t want to accept losing by any means, but when there is a strong effort like that, follow the game plan, and work as hard as we can and execute; if it doesn’t go our way on any given night, we can live with that. We will bounce back this week.” Outhouse said, “we will have a rest and recovery the next two days; traveling tonight and tomorrow. We will have Monday off before Tuesday through Thursday of practice and getting back to simplifying things. I think I didn’t do a great job of that, even tonight, I could have simplified more, controlled my rebounds better.”
Portland meanwhile hits the road Saturday night as they make their way to play Spokane on Sunday evening. The game will be their third in three nights, but the last time Portland played the Chiefs Johnston was pleased with his team. “We felt last time we were there we had a really good game. We lost 4-1, but the way our team played, how we matched up against Spokane was really good. 3-in-3 is always challenging with travel, but two victories will give our guys a little juice.”
The Winterhawks will be more shorthanded as they face the Chiefs. During the game Ryan Hughes suffered an injury that Johnston, “won’t know for 24 or 48 hours, but I don’t feel it will be anything long-term, but is certainly or probably going to keep him out of the game tomorrow night.” Portland will also be without Cody Glass as he travels to Kamloops to participate in the CIBC Canada Russia series (Spokane will be without Ty Smith and Jaret Anderson-Dolan as they attend the same series). Meanwhile, Seth Jarvis is playing in the U17 World Hockey Challenge for Canada, he scored a goal and an assist tonight; he will miss the game as well.
While nothing is certain until game time, Johnston said, “we will bring Haydn Delorme back in and probably dress eight defensemen.” Johnston said the starting goalie will be decided before the game tomorrow. “Tonight I thought it was probably his [Farkas] best game he’s played this year,” Johnston said, “I thought he made some highlight reel saves, he looked composed, gathered his rebounds in, I really liked his game tonight.”
– Portland dressed seven defensemen on Friday. Nolan was listed as a forward on the line chart, but I only ever saw him play on defense. Nick Cicek was the official 6th defenseman.
– Ryan Hughes left the game with an injury. He went off with a few seconds left in the first period, but came back out in the second period. He went back down the tunnel again and did not play the rest of the game.
– With Hannoun, Oliver, and Jarratt out of Victoria’s lineup, the Royals were without their 1st, 3rd, and 7th leading scorers.