Junior hockey report 11/9

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

Portland Winterhawks

This week: At Vancouver, 7:30 p.m. Friday; at Spokane, 7:05 p.m. Saturday; host Kamloops 5 p.m. Sunday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Last week: Beat Victoria twice, both by a score of 6-2; beat Red Deer 5-1.

Where they stand: At 13-3-1-0, the Winterhawks lead in the U.S. Division. With 27 points, they are one point in front of both Spokane (which has played two more games than Portland) and Tri-City (which has played three more games than Portland.

Showdown Sunday: The Kamloops Blazers, who enter the weekend with a WHL-best 17 wins through 20 games, visit Portland for the first time this season. The puck drops at 5 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Coliseum. It will be the third game in three nights for both teams.

In the most recent BMO CHL MasterCard Top 10 Rankings, Kamloops is second behind Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Portland is ranked sixth this week.

For the record, Winterhawks head coach and general manager Mike Johnston said on Thursday that the team must focus on its challenging road games at Vancouver and Spokane, not look ahead to Sunday.

Win streak at nine: The Winterhawks enter the weekend on a nine-game win streak, during which they have outscored their opponents 49-13.

Johnston said the key to the win streak has been improved defense.

"Our goals-against is a key part of it," Johnston said, citing more consistent play in the defensive end. "We're creating scoring chances, but we're also defending well."

Positive plus-minus: Eight Winterhawks have a plus-minus of plus-10 or better, led by 17-year-old center Nic Petan's plus-22. Petan already has eight goals and 19 assists. As a rookie last season he finished with 14 goals and 21 assists in 61 games.

"I thought he learned a lot last year defensively," Johnston said, noting that the Winterhawks ask their centermen to play a key defensive role. "He's becoming a very sound defensive player."

Salvation Army fundraiser: $8-$10 of every ticket purchased for Sunday's game against Kamloops will be donated to the The Salvation Army's Home Front War Relief program, which assists currently- or recently-deployed service members and their families.

December tickets on sale: Tickets for all six December home games, including the Dec. 15 teddy bear toss game and the New Year's eve game, are now available.

Vancouver Vipers

This week: Visit Eugene on Friday at 7:35 p.m.; host Eugene on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. at Mountain View Ice Arena.

Last week: Beat Bellingham 6-5; lost to Bellingham 10-2.

Where they stand: At 2-9, Vancouver is last in the six-team Northern Pacific Hockey League.

The Cody show: In last Friday's win over Bellingham, Cody Larkin was in on all six Vipers goals (two goals, four assists), Cody Dettman had one goal and three assists, and Cody Anderson had two goals and one assist.

Roster update: Nelson Deems, a goalie from Phoenix, and defenseman Cole Morrow from North Pole, Alaska, joined the Vipers this week. The roster now has 14 skaters and three goalies.

Host a player: The Vipers are still looking for homes for several of their out-of-town players. For billet details, e-mail Biz Larkin at billetaviper@ymail.com.