Junior hockey report: Playoff-bound Winterhawks ranked No. 1 by scouts

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

Portland Winterhawks

This week: Visit Seattle at 7:35 p.m. Friday; host Spokane at 7 p.m. Saturday (Veterans Memorial Coliseum); host Calgary, 7 p.m. Wednesday (Veterans Memorial Coliseum); visit Kelowna at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8.

Last week: Won 3-0 at Spokane, won 7-0 at Tri-City, won 6-0 at Everett, won 5-2 over Kamloops.

Where they stand: At 41-7-1-2, the Winterhawks have the Western Hockey League's best record and 85 points from 51 games. Kelowna (78 points in 51 games) and Edmonton (77 points in 52 games) have the next-best marks. Portland is 13 points up on second-place Spokane in the U.S. Division.

Playoffs clinched: The Winterhawks became the first team to clinch a spot in the WHL playoffs with their 6-0 win Tuesday at Everett.

Winterhawks ranked No. 1: For the first time this season, Portland is the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League top-10. The weekly top-10 is selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts.

Zero for three: After losing four games in a row, the Winterhawks got back on track with three consecutive shutouts -- a franchise record -- in wins at Spokane, Tri-City and Everett. Portland has 10 shutouts this season -- also a franchise single-season record.

Schedule provides tests: In addition to being busy -- four games in five days ending Saturday and four games in six days next week, the Winterhawks have four games against some of the top teams in the WHL. They beat Kamloops, third in the Western Conference, 5-2 at home on Wednesday. Next Wednesday, Portland hosts Calgary, which has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. That is followed by games Feb. 8 and Feb. 9 at Kelowna, which leads the B.C. Division and has the second-best record in the WHL. The Feb. 8 game will be shown live on Root Sports (Comcast cable channels 34/734).

Top line keeps rolling: Nic Petan continues to lead the WHL -- and all of Canadian major junior hockey -- with 90 points (35 goals, 55 assists). Brendan Leipsic is second in the WHL with 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists). Ty Rattie, who has at least one point in 15 consecutive games, now is tied for fifth in WHL scoring with 69 points (28 goals, 41 assists). Rattie has played in only 42 games, the fewest among any of the league's top scorers.

Vancouver Vipers

This week: Host Eugene at 7:35 p.m. Friday at Mountain View Ice Arena; visit Eugene at 7:35 p.m. Saturday; visit West Sound at 7:35 p.m. on Feb. 8 in Bremerton.

Last week: Lost 14-1 to visiting Eugene, lost 4-3 to visiting Bellingham, lost 9-3 at West Sound.

Where they stand: At 2-29, Vancouver is last in the six-team Northern Pacific Hockey League. The Vipers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Local forward added: Levi Waterman, a 16-year-old forward from Washougal, joined the Vipers last week after his Salt Lake City-based team folded; Waterman scored a goal in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Bellingham.

Chuck Cheshire, the Vipers' player personnel director, said providing an opportunity for Clark County players to play junior hockey close to home is one of the reasons he is involved with the team.

Still shorthanded: The Vipers still are dressing 13-15 skaters per game. They have not had a full roster of 20 skaters all season. Teams have until Feb. 8 to add players for this season. Interested players can contact Cheshire at 360-910-9806.Tickets: Vipers tickets cost $5, $3 for students with school IDs.

Miscellaneous

Trevor Cheek update: Vancouver resident Trevor Cheek had a goal and two assists this week for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He has 24 goals and 20 assists this season, including six goals and five assists in 11 games for Edmonton since a trade from the Vancouver Giants.