WINTERHAWKS ALUMNI NEWSLETTER MESSAGE FROM GENERAL MANAGER/HEAD COACH MIKE JOHNSTON We have had a busy month since the last newsletter with 14 games in the month of January, then in early February one of the longest trips of the year to Prince George, Kamloops and Vancouver, British Columbia. This trip was made more challenging because of the weather on the road, with a major snow storm that hit Portland before we left. The most challenging part of the trip was getting past Seattle on Saturday, February 8th when we headed out after our game against Everett. We had to leave on Saturday night and go part way because Prince George had scheduled an afternoon 2 pm start on Monday. As challenging as the schedule was, this time period was exciting for the team as we went on to set a franchise record for consecutive wins. Tying the record in Kamloops and breaking the record in Vancouver with 16 wins, was a special accomplishment considering the great teams of the past. Believe it or not there was very little discussion about any streak or any records until after the game in Kamloops.
UPCOMING GAMES at TRI-CITIES Wednesday, Mar. 5 @ 7:00 pm
vs. SEATTLE Friday, Mar. 7 @ 7:00 pm
vs. VANCOUVER Saturday, Mar. 8 @ 7:00 pm
As challenging as the schedule was, this time period was exciting for the team as we went on to set a franchise record. I have been asked a lot about why we have been playing so well since the Christmas break and the obvious answer is that we had four players away with Canada at the World Juniors as well as a key player suspended during that time period. But, like other years when players are away at the World Juniors Tournament or playing with their NHL teams, I believe it is the experience that the remaining players gain that allows us to take a big step. During the December time period all of our players were put into situations where they played more minutes, received power play and penalty kill time and in general on a nightly basis played “important minutes.” This experience is invaluable because it helps with their confidence and regardless if you are 20 or 16 it is always nice to have a bigger role and be counted on in all situations. From a coaching perspective it helps us work with players in a variety of situations in case we have injuries or need someone to step up in a specific game.
at SPOKANE Tuesday, Mar. 11 @ 7:00 pm
at SEATTLE Friday, Mar. 14 @ 7:35 pm
Portland’s Points Leaders: 1. NIC PETAN – 106 (34G, 72A) 2. OLIVER BJORKSTRAND – 97 (43G, 54A) 3. BRENDAN LEIPSIC – 80 (34G, 46A) 4. CHASE DE LEO – 73 (36G, 37A) 5. TAYLOR LEIER – 68 (32G, 36A)
With so many Divisional games through the second half of the season now there is a little separation between teams. It always amazes me though how tough our division is when you look at head to head games against the Eastern Conference.
U.S. Division Standings
1. PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (46-13-2-3) 2. SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (39-20-2-4) 3. SPOKANE CHIEFS (36-23-3-3) 4. EVERETT SILVERTIPS (33-23-7-2) 5. TRI-CITY AMERICANS (28-29-3-5)
February 2014 When teams have made their swing through the US Division most have been fortunate to win one game out of the five. As I have said before, I believe playing in such a tough division throughout the year will help all of our teams come playoff time. Today as I finish this newsletter I am watching the Olympic hockey games. It is always nice to see best on best. After watching these games I remember coaching with Team Canada and how much I enjoy the smaller rinks better. The NHL size arenas lead to more scoring chances and as you can see from the early play of Canada if opponents are content to sit back and clog up the middle it is difficult to generate scoring chances on the larger ice. You wouldn’t think so but wait for the comments after the games are over regarding the debate over arena size. I am not sure how many of you follow the women’s games but with my niece (Rebecca Johnston) playing in her second Olympics for Canada, I was proud to see her win her second gold medal. It’s impressive how far the women’s game has come as far as skill and overall play. Now that we are in the stretch run our focus as always at this time of the year is on playoff habits. We want to be playing our best hockey entering the playoffs and be confident in all areas of our game. We are now heading into the most exciting time of the year!
MONTH IN REVIEW: FEBRUARY Hawks are U.S. Division Champions For Second Straight Year Portland’s win in Prince George on February 12 clinched a playoff berth, marking the fifth straight season that the Hawks will play in the postseason. With Seattle’s loss to Everett on Sunday, the Hawks have clinched the U.S. Division Championship for the second straight year, and the third in the last four years. The Hawks currently have 99 points on the season, positioning them for their fourth straight 100-point season, a mark that has never been reached in franchise history.
Hawks Celebrate 100 Years of Hockey in Portland 2014 Marks the 100-year anniversary of hockey in Portland which began with the Portland Rosebuds of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1914. To celebrate this milestone, the Winterhawks have teamed up with the Oregon Historical Society to create a showcase of hockey artifacts from the past hundred years. The Rose City Champions display, which will be open through April 15, includes items from the Rosebuds, the Portland Buckaroos, and the Winterhawks. On March 8, the Winterhawks will take on the Vancouver Giants in the Moda Center wearing special commemorative jerseys to celebrate 100 Years of Hockey Heritage night. The game-worn jerseys will be autographed by players and raffled to fans, with proceeds benefitting the Winterhawks Amateur Hockey Association.
League-leading Hawks Hit 300-mark for Fourth Consecutive Season The Hawks lead the WHL with 302 goals this season, 20 more than the next closest team. Seven players have at least 20 goals this season: Oliver Bjorkstrand (43), Chase De Leo (36), Nic Petan (34), Brendan Leipsic (34), Taylor Leier (32), Paul Bittner (20), and Keegan Iverson (20). The Hawks have hit the 300-goal mark for the fourth straight season, the first time since 1989-90 which was the last of 14 straight seasons hitting the mark.
Hawks Set Franchise Record with Recent Win Streak The Hawks’ recent record-setting win streak came to an end on Saturday when they fell to Seattle 4-1. The previous franchise record had been 15 consecutive wins, set in both the 1979-80 and 1997-98 seasons. After setting the new franchise record for most consecutive wins on February 15, the Hawks continued to extend the streak throughout the end of February, earning 21 wins in 22 games and 45 of a possible 46 points in that span. The Hawks hadn’t lost since a shootout defeat in Victoria on January 10, and hadn’t lost in regulation since January 4. The Hawks’ goal differential during this streak was +74; the team has outscored its opponents 115-41 over the record-setting 21 games.
February's contents include a message from General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston and a Winterhawks Month in Review