Junior hockey report, Dec. 2

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS

Where they stand: At 17-9-1-1 (36 points), the Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division behind Tri-City (19-7-0-0, 38 points).

This week: Portland is home for 7 p.m. games at the Rose Garden on Friday against Everett and on Saturday against Seattle. Saturday’s game is the annual teddy bear toss game, and is expected to be sold out in advance. The Winterhawks play at Prince George on Tuesday and Wednesday, and visit the Vancouver Giants on Dec. 9

Last week: beat Spokane 5-3 in on Nov. 25 and beat Swift Current 6-2 on Sunday.

Player of the week: Ty Rattie was named player of the week for the Western Hockey League and the CHL, which includes the Ontario and Quebec leagues. Rattie also was named the WHL player of the month for November. The 18-year-old scored 16 goals and had 11 assists in helping Portland go 9-2 in November. He had a four-goal game in Saturday’s win over Swift Current.

Gabriel’s return: The Winterhawks received an unexpected boost on Wednesday with the return of 20-year-old forward Oliver Gabriel. Gabriel played 11 games this season with the Springfield Falcons, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets decided that Gabriel, who was seeing limited ice time in Springfield, would be better served with one more season in the WHL, according to Winterhawks head coach and general manager Mike Johnston. Last season, Gabriel had 11 goals and 21 assists for Portland before a January shoulder injury ended his season.

Johnston said the return of Gabriel fills a need for Portland. It also helps that Gabriel has played with the Hawks.

“He adds size and a physical player to our guys up front, which is something we are lacking,” Johnston said.

The arrival of Gabriel means Portland has four 20-year-olds, including Dillon Wagner, Charles Wells and team captain William Wrenn. That is one more than the maximum allowed. It will have two weeks to get back down to three 20-year-olds. Johnston said the staff will quickly make a decision about who to keep and will try to find a spot in the WHL or elsewhere for the fourth player.

Notes and numbers: The Winterhawks signed their two second-round picks from the 2011 bantam draft, defenseman Zach Paterson and center Tyler Sandhu. ... Rattie, Joe Morrow and Brad Ross are among 41 players invited to the selection camp for the team that will represent Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championship.The selection camp is Dec. 10-14 in Calgary. The World Junior Championship runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Calgary and Edmonton.

VANCOUVER VICTORY

Where they stand: At 10-9-1 (21 points), the Victory are in third place in the seven-team NORPAC behind Southern Oregon (16-7) and Seattle (13-2-2).

This week: Vancouver visits Cody, Wyo., for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday against the Yellowstone Quake, who are one point behind the Victory in the standings.

Last week: Vancouver lost two close games in an away and home set with Eugene, falling 5-4 in overtime on Nov. 25 and 4-2 on Nov. 26.

Noteworthy: The Victory recently added 18-year-old goalie Corey Grummick. The Olympia-area native was the top goalie last season for Eugene. Grummick and Mitch Saviola give the team two netminders with NorPac experience. Vancouver released two other goalies, and currently has three on the roster including Sam Anderson.

Coach Dave Petrino said bad-luck deflections led to three of Eugene’s goals in last Friday’s 5-4 overtime loss in Eugene.

Petrino said early penalty trouble is one reason Vancouver has had a tendency to fall behind early. He said his squad needs to adjust more quickly to the officiating style in each game. But the coach doesn’t want to tone down his team’s physical aggressiveness.

“We need to make sure that we make our hits clean so there is no doubt about it,” Petrino said.

The Victory left Thursday evening for the 15-hour bus trip to Cody, Wyo.