Junior hockey notebook 12/7

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



Portland Winterhawks

This week: host Tri-City, 7 p.m. Friday (Rose Garden); at Seattle, 7:05 p.m. Saturday; at Tri-City, 5:05 p.m. Sunday; host Everett, 7 p.m. Dec. 14 (Rose Garden).

Last week: beat Seattle 5-2, beat Everett 4-1 and 7-5.

Where they stand: At 23-4-1-0, the Winterhawks have a Western Hockey League best 47 points from 28 games. They are in first place in the U.S. Division, six points up on Spokane. In the Canadian Hockey League top-10, Portland is ranked second behind top-rated Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Win streak grows: The Winterhawks have won seven consecutive games, outscoring opponents 36-14 during this stretch. That includes Tuesday’s come-from-behind 7-5 win over Everett. Portland has won 19 of its last 20 games.

Inter-division games: Portland is four games into a string of 15 consecutive games against U.S. Division rivals.

Leipsic honored (again): On Tuesday, Brendan Leipsic was named the WHL player of the month for November, when the 18-year-old forward had nine goals and 21 assists, collecting at least two points in each of the 12 games played and posting a plus-16 plus/minus. Tuesday evening Leipsic kept his scoring streak going by almost single-handedly rallying Portland from a 4-1 deficit. In the 7-5 win over Everett, Leipsic scored four goals. Leipsic has registered a goal or an assist in 16 consecutive games, totaling 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points during the streak.

“His compete level is off the charts,” Winterhawks interim coach Travis Green said of Leipsic.

At 5-9 and 170 pounds, Leipsic is one of the smaller players in the league. But his intensity made him a fan favorite as soon the Winnipeg native he arrived in Portland two seasons ago.

Green said physical growth is part of Leipsic’s story this season, along with the advantage that comes with two seasons of WHL experience.

To raise his game to another level, Leipsic needs to improve his play in the defensive end, Green said.

“He’s got to be as good defensively as his is offensively,” Green said.

Junior Worlds trialists: Winterhawks Derrick Pouliot, Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon have been invited to Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp, Dec. 11-13 in Calgary. They are three of 37 players invited to the camp, from which Team Canada will select its roster for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia.

Also, Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones has been named to the preliminary roster for the 2013 United States National Junior Team. Jones is one of 27 players invited to a training camp Dec. 16-18 in Tarrytown, N.Y. An additional camp will follow in Helsinki, Finland, with the final 23-man roster announcement scheduled for Dec. 23.

Steady Wotherspoon: Defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon leads the WHL with a plus-34 plus/minus that is six better than teammate Nic Petan and 10 better than the closest non-Winterhawk. The franchise record for plus/minus is plus-75, by Andrew Ference in 1997-98.

Skaters receive a plus every time they are the ice when their team scores an even strength goal, and a minus if they are on the ice when the opponent scores an even-strength goal.

Injury update: Green said that forwards Taylor Peters and Alex Schoenborn are close to getting healthy. Both could be ready to play by the home games on Dec. 14-15.

Vancouver Vipers

This week: Host the Glacier Nationals from Whitefish, Mont., for two games — at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Mountain View Ice Arena.

Last week: Lost at Tri-City 4-1.

Where they stand: At 2-14, Vancouver is last in the six-team Northern Pacific Hockey League.

One November win: The Vipers won their first game in November, beating Bellingham 6-5 on Nov. 2. They have lost six games in a row since then and been outscored 54-11.

Ice dance duo to perform: Madeline Heritage and Nathaniel Fast, competitive ice dancers who sometimes train at Mountain View Ice Arena, are scheduled to perform during the first intermission of Friday’s game.

Tickets: Vipers tickets cost $5, $3 for students with school IDs.

Host homes needed: The Vipers are often seeking homes for players from outside the area. For billet details, e-mail Biz Larkin at billetaviper@ymail.com.