Junior hockey report, Oct. 14

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS

Where they stand: At 4-4-0, the Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division behind 5-2-0 Tri-City.

This week: Portland hosts Kamloops on Friday, Brandon on Saturday and Saskatoon on Tuesday. All three games start at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Coliseum.

Last week: Lost at Everett, beat Prince Albert, lost to Tri-City (for the third time this season).

Player of the week: Derrick Pouliot. Had two power-play goals and one assist in three weekend games, continuing the fast start for the second-year defenseman.

Captain William Wrenn

William Wrenn came to the Portland Winterhawks in January hoping to jump start a once promising hockey career.

Now he's in a position to light a spark for Portland's major junior hockey team.

The 20-year-old defenseman from Anchorage, Alaska, was named on Thursday as the Western Hockey League team's captain for 2011-12.

"Obviously, I was very excited," Wrenn said. "It's a huge honor."

Sven Bartschi was named as an assistant captain. Joe Morrow, Taylor Peters, Brad Ross and Troy Rutkowski will alternate as the second assistant captain.

“Since joining our team in January, William has been a model of professionalism on and off the ice. He embodies everything we look for in a captain, and is a terrific role model for our younger players,” Winterhawks head coach and general manager Mike Johnston said. “Along with our assistant captains we have great veterans in our locker room who comprise our leadership group.”

Wrenn has been a captain before, beginning as a youth player in Anchorage. He was a captain with the L.A. Selects and with the USA under-18 national team in 2008-09.

He said his previous experience as a captain taught him how to manage the line between having fun and getting teammates focused and on the same path.

Wrenn said he is more of a lead-by-example captain than a rah-rah guy, but that he isn't afraid to say what needs to be said in the locker room.

"I an not a huge yeller or anything like that," he said.

Wrenn played in 23 games for Denver University in 2009-10 before a hip injury ended his freshman season. As a sophomore last season, he saw little action and decided to give up on college to play for the Winterhawks.

Wrenn, a stay-at-home defenseman, became a valuable contributor as the Winterhawks advanced to the WHL finals last season. He helped Portland overcome the loss of last season's captain Brett Ponich to a knee injury.

Ponich spent the last two seasons as the Winterhawks' captain. This season, Ponich joined the American Hockey League’s Peoria Rivermen.

"Brett was a great leader," Wrenn said, noting that Ponich's character was clear by the way he stayed with the team even though he was unable to play.

Wrenn can relate. He worked hard to come back from hip surgery, but said he needed a fresh start with the Winterhawks after falling down the Denver University depth chart.

"When I came here, the whole idea was to strat fresh," Wrenn said.

He said that his hip is much stronger after a summer program of rehabilitation and technical skating drills.

"I'm starting to feel like I'm back to where I was before the hip injury," Wrenn said.

Back then, he was strong enough to be the 43rd overall pick of the San Jose Sharks in the 2009 NHL Draft. He went to his first NHL training camp this season. He said the Sharks coaches feel he will benefit more from one more season with the Winterhawks than he would by jumping into a minor professional league.

"I couldn't be happier to be here," Wrenn said.

VANCOUVER VICTORY

Where they stand: At 3-0, the Victory are the only unbeaten team left among the eight NORPAC clubs.

This week: Vancouver plays three home games at Mountain View Ice Arena. Southern Oregon visits at 7 p.m. Friday and on Saturday, and the Glacier Nationals visit at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Last week: Vancouver won 5-3 at Eugene on Oct. 7. Avik Bordak had a goal and two assists, and five different players scored goals.

Noteworthy: Despite playing a league-low three games so far, Avik Bordak’s six goals ranks second in the league.