The Winterhawks play at about 60%, but it’s good enough to beat the struggling Victoria Royals in a 7-4 win. It’s their 5th win in a row, their 6th in 7 games, and they have points in all but one game this season.
|8:45 POR Marek Alscher (Luke Schelter) 1-0||Alscher from the top of the left circle. Aidan Litke in front with a partial screen. A second assist might get added.|
|9:44 VIC Riley Gannon (Tanner Scott, Ryan Spizawka) 1-1||A nifty behind-the-back drop pass by Scott sets up Gannon from a few feet closer than the left dot.|
|10:06 POR Ryan McCleary (Aidan Litke, Robbie Fromm-Delorme) 2-1||First to the puck in the left corner, Litke centers the puck. From directly in front McCleary just gets a stick on it and directs it on goal, but it beats Tyler Palmer 5-hole.|
|12:22 POR Gabe Klassen (Marek Alscher, Dawson Pasternak) 3-1||Pasternak from behind the net centers nicely to Klassen in the slot. Palmer stops his first shot but there’s a big rebound, Klassen gets there first and backhands it in.|
|23:52 POR Dawson Pasternak (Luca Cagnoni, Gabe Klassen) 4-1||Cagnoni gets the puck in close left of the goal and feeds a pass through the crease to Pasternak at the far post.|
|26:00 VIC (sh) Riley Gannon (Luke Shipley) 4-2||This time Cagnoni being deep didn’t work out so well. Portland on the power play had 4 players below the dot, so Shipley was able to intercept a centering pass and feed Gannon for a 2 on 1 with Scott. Gannon kept it and beat Jan Špunar.|
|31:52 POR Aidan Litke (Robbie Fromm-Delorme) 5-2||An individual effort by Litke, winning the puck in the right corner, skating up to the line near the right boards, continuing to carry it to the top of the left circle, and wristing one in.|
|33:47 POR (pp) Kyle Chyzowski (Aidan Litke, Ryan McCleary) 6-2||On the power play, Litke from the top of the left circle finds Klassen at the right dot for the one-timer, which goes right at Palmer but ricochets off him and in. That ended Palmer’s game.|
|34:30 VIC Jake Poole (Teague Patton, Nate Misskey) 6-3||Victoria answer. Misskey wins a puck along the boards to start the play, then Patton finds Poole in the slot. Plenty of Winterhawks to block the shot, but it got past them and in.|
|51:20 VIC Teague Patton (Jake Poole, Justin Kipkie) 6-4||Against the run of play the Royals stay in it. Patton from just left of the slot. The play might have started offside, and Portland challenged, but it was deemed inconclusive. Which I guess the Winterhawks were counting on, that if it wasn’t overturned it would be inconclusive and no penalty, but that seems like a bad percentage play up 2 with 9 minutes left. The difference between 6-3 and 6-4 isn’t that great, but the difference between 6-4 not killing a penalty and 6-4 killing a penalty is big.|
|55:40 POR Robbie Fromm-Delorme (Aidan Litke, Jack O’Brien) 7-4||Portland puts it away. Litke gets to a puck in the left circle and gets it down low to Fromm-Delorme. It takes him a couple of whacks to get it in but he finally does. The only blemish of the night for backup goalie Logan Cunningham.|
Pregame: The Winterhawks had an easy win on Friday, and Saturday was expected to be the same.
1st period: Sloppy, but the Winterhawks have an advantage in that kind of game, and Tyler Palmer wasn’t as good as he was on Friday, so Portland got three past him.
2nd period: Portland wasn’t really switched on, especially defensively, and gave up a shorthanded goal. But they kept getting the goals, and goals by Litke and Chyzowski 2 minutes apart made it 6-2, and it was going to be hard to blow that.
3rd period: Victoria got one against the run of play to make it 6-4, but it was Portland’s best period, winning shots 14-5, and Fromm-Delorme’s late goal finished it off.
Won on offense, defense, or special teams?: Portland’s offense took the mantle this time from the special teams, which broke a 4-game run.
Best team won?: By a lot.
Injuries/suspensions: Victoria is missing Gannon Laroque, their best defenseman, and Brayden Schuurman, who had 29 goals last season, along with a couple of depth players. Both have been out most of the season.
|Top 10||Stat line|
|Aidan Litke||POR||1 goal, 3 assists||First 4-point game of his career; his high had been a multitude of 2-point games. He’s now at a point a game, and he has been playing that well.|
|Robbie Fromm-Delorme||POR||1 goal, 2 assists||Keeps racking up points to lead Portland in scoring. Works very well with Litke around the net.|
|Marek Alscher||POR||1 goal, 1 assist||Got the first goal, and was the pick of Portland’s defensemen.|
|Riley Gannon||VIC||2 goals||Third 2-goal game of his career.|
|Gabe Klassen||POR||1 goal, 1 assist||The only player in the league with more goals than games played.|
|Ryan McCleary||POR||1 goal, 1 assist||Extended his point streak to 6 games.|
|Luca Cagnoni||POR||1 assist||100th league game counting playoffs. Created chances as usual especially on the power play.|
|Teague Patton||VIC||1 goal, 1 assist|
|Jake Poole||VIC||1 goal, 1 assist||Has gotten himself up to a point a game, the only Royal remotely close to that.|
|Logan Cunningham||VIC||18 saves-19 shots||Had a nice little game in relief, by far the best of his 6-game career. He’d only faced 4 shots in one of the games and had been lit up in the rest.|
|Other notables||Stat line|
|Tyler Palmer||VIC||18 saves-24 shots||Not nearly as good as Friday, although he didn’t get a lot of help and his pull was a mercy pull as much as anything.|
|Jan Špunar||POR||21 saves-25 shots||Not ready yet to be a regular WHL goalie, which isn’t good as he’s taking up a Euro spot and Portland needs someone to win the top job as opposed to backing into it.|
|Kalem Parker||VIC||0 shots and -2 for Victoria’s best current defenseman.|
|Marcus Nguyen||POR||Is becoming a really good penalty killer.|
|Power plays for/game||3.9||4.5|
|Power plays against/game||4.5||4.0|
|After 1 period||10-3-3||0-10-10|
|After 2 periods||10-2-4||0-18-2|
|Score, last 10 games||50-39||25-50|
|Score, last 20 games||87-65||49-88|
It didn’t seem like an effort that would beat the league’s top teams. And they start facing them starting Tuesday. But you can forgive playing down to the opposition’s level to some extent. They have to start doing a better job preventing goals.
It’s hard to see them getting anywhere near a playoff spot. They’re only 4 behind Kelowna, but with 5 more games played. They’re tied with Spokane for last in the conference, with 4 more games played, and it seems like it’s going to be a chore to stay ahead in that race.
Tuesday vs. Calgary, 7pm
Friday vs. Everett, 7pm
Saturday vs. Kamloops, 6pm
Next road game: Wednesday 11/23 at Everett, 7pm
Looking ahead: Friday 11/25 at Seattle, 7pm
Next Victoria game: Friday 12/2 vs. Victoria, 7pm