Winterhawks on verge of clinching U.S. Division

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

Portland Winterhawks

This week: Host Tri-City at 7 p.m. Friday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum (live TV on Root Sports); host Vancouver at 3 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum; host Spokane at 3 p.m. Monday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Last week: Won 5-3 at Kelowna, won 5-1 at Kelowna, won 8-3 at Vancouver.

Where they stand: At 46-8-1-2, the Winterhawks have the Western Hockey League's best record and 95 points from 56 games. Edmonton (87 points in 58 games) Kelowna (86 points in 58 games) and have the next-best marks.

Division title near: Portland is 27 points up on second-place Spokane and 30 points in front of third-place Tri-City. The Hawks seem likely to clinch the division title over the weekend, perhaps as early as Friday.

Winterhawks still ranked No. 1: For the third week in a row, Portland is the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League top-10. Announced each Wednesday, the top-10 is selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts. Edmonton (fourth), Kelowna (fifth) and Kamloops (eighth) are also in the top 10.

Big sweep: Portland put an end to Kelowna's 23-game home win streak last Friday, then beat the Rockets again on Saturday. The sweep helped Portland move nine points ahead of Kelowna for the best record in the Western Conference.

Portland is 23-3-1-1 on the road this season.

Big game for Rattie: Ty Rattie had four goals and an assist in Monday's 8-3 win at Vancouver. He had nine points over two games including Saturday's win at Kelowna and closing in on third place in WHL scoring. With 86 points, Rattie sits four points behind Kamloops Colin Smith, but Smith has played in 10 more games than Rattie. Of course, Rattie (35 goals, 51 assists in 48 games) is third in scoring on his own line, but has played in fewer games than any of the other league leaders. Portland's Brendan Leipsic (40 goals, 61 assists) is now first with 101 points and Nic Petan (40 goals, 60 assists) is second with 100 points.

Matinee time: The Winterhawks play 3 p.m. games on both Saturday and Monday (Presidents Day). The curtains will be open allowing daylight into the arena bowl.

Shirts off their backs: The Winterhawks will give fans their game jerseys following the regular-season finale on March 17. Fans can purchase raffle tickets at winterhawks.com or at Winterhawks games for $10 apiece for a chance to win a game-worn jersey. Money raised will go to the Winterhawks Amateur Hockey Association's Player Education Fund, which provides funding for Winterhawks players who pursue post-secondary education following their WHL careers.

Vancouver Vipers

This week: The Vipers visit the Tri-Cities Outlaws at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Kennewick, then host the Outlaws at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday at Mountain View Ice Arena.

Last week: Lost 17-2 at league-leading West Sound, then lost 7-1 at home to the Warriors.

Where they stand: At 2-33, Vancouver is last in the six-team Northern Pacific Hockey League. The Vipers have been eliminated from playoff contention.Two home games remain: The Vipers play home games at Mountain View Ice Arena on each of the next two Saturdays. Tickets cost $5, $3 for students with school IDs.

Miscellaneous

Trevor Cheek update: Vancouver resident Trevor Cheek has eight goals and seven assists in 17 games since joining the Edmonton Oil Kings. He has 26 goals and 20 assists this season. In 14 games for Edmonton since a trade from the Vancouver Giants, Cheek has a plus-14 rating.Free hockey clinic: On Saturday, Mountain View Ice Arena will hold a free clinic for kids who want to try ice hockey. The event is 8:30-9:30 a.m., and is part of USA Hockey's annual Hockey Weekend Across America promotion. For details, call the rink at 360-896-8700.