Joachim Blichfeld coming back to the Portland Winterhawks (4-2-0-1) as an overage import was not something may expected. While the shock of forgoing a year playing in the professional ranks for the San Jose Sharks must have been a lot for the Danish sniper, he quickly recovered.
He has led the way for the Winterhawks since he was returned with 17 points in only six games – the most by by player in the WHL this year.
On Saturday night in Everett, Blichfeld helped set up Portland’s first two goals to set them up with a late 2-1 lead and then scored a duo of empty-net goals for a four point night in the Winterhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips (3-3).
Blichfeld’s markers into a gaping net will help his shooting percentage for sure, but even before those two he has seen a dramatic increase in that particular statistic so far this year in the WHL.
Last season he had just 24 goals on 230 shots for Portland in the regular season and three on 50 shots in the postseason. Combine those two and you have him shooting 9.6 percent. This year, Blichfeld is finding far more accuracy with a 25 percent rate – eight goals on just 29 shots.
While Blichfeld’s offense has been key to Portland turning around in the early going and making it four straight wins, the team defense, penalty killing and goalie Shane Farkas played big roles at Angel of the Winds Arena on Saturday night.
Farkas stopped 28-of-29 for Portland, including many key stops when Everett was pressing in the third period. Portland also stopped all six of Everett’s power plays.
Portland started the scoring in the first as Brendan De Jong jumped up in the rush, took a feed from Cody Glass and sniped a host by Everett goalie Dustin Wolf.
Everett got that goal back on a Portland power play as Jake Gricius mishandled the puck at the Everett blue liner and Bryce Kindopp flew in alone on Farkas. He beat the 19-year-old goalie on the glove side for his second goal this year.
Before the first was over though, Portland climbed back on top and established a lead they would never give up.
While on the man-advantage, Blichfeld’s shot pinged off the pad of Wolf and was there for 16-year-old rookie Seth Jarvis. The first-round Bantam Draft pick slammed home his third goal this year and Portland had a 2-1 lead.
Farkas and the Winterhawks kept the Sivlertips from tying the rest of the way and Blichfeld added two markers into the net vacated by Wolf for the extra-attacker late in the third to give us the 4-1 final.
Portland was 1-for-5 on the power play.
-Matt Quigley was scratched for Portland. He took a high hit from Kamloops’ Jermaine Lowen Friday night and did not return. Loewen has been assessed a “TBD” suspension for the hit.
-Portland will now return home for three straight. They played six of their first seven games on the road this year.
-Sean Richards was held out for Everett after getting a “TBD” suspension for his hit on Nolan Volcan of Seattle on Friday.