Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sept. 21, 2021

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Winterhawks notebook: Challenging weekend awaits

By , Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter

This week: At Vancouver, 7:05 p.m. Friday; host Everett, 7 p.m. Saturday (Memorial Coliseum); host Medicine Hat, 5 p.m. Sunday (Memorial Coliseum); host Spokane, 7 p.m. Dec. 12 (Memorial Coliseum).

Last week: beat Kootenay 5-2; won 3-2 at Tri-City; won 6-4 at Victoria.

Where they stand: At 15-12-0-3, the Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division, five points behind first-place Everett. Portland has played at least three more games than the other four teams in the division.

Big weekend: The Winterhawks play three challenging games this weekend. It starts with today’s game at Vancouver. It will be the Giants first game under coach Claude Noel. Noel coached the Winnipeg Jets from 2011-14 and takes over for Troy Ward, who was fired Nov. 26. The Giants also are honoring co-owner Pat Quinn, who died on Nov. 23. Saturday’s game brings division-leading Everett to Memorial Coliseum and Sunday it’s Central Division leader Medicine Hat.

Win streak at six: By winning six consecutive games, the Winterhawks have surged into second place in the U.S. Division. Portland’s 33 points is the third most in the Western Conference behind Kelowna and Everett.

Coach Jamie Kompon said he likes that his team is winning different ways, including the way his team responded to getting outshot 20-5 in the first period last Friday against Kootenay. The coach also liked the response to Victoria’s first goal on Tuesday, as Dominic Turgeon’s goal on the next shift restored a three-goal lead.

But the coach said the team needs to be better at maintaining intensity and focus when it takes the early lead — a subject he said was addressed following Tuesday’s game at Victoria.

“Good teams don’t allow teams to get back in the game once they establish a lead,” Kompon said.

“If we’re up multiple goals in a game, it should be locked down.”

Sure, opponents are going to push back and get scoring chances, Kompon said. But winning teams avoid sloppy turnovers and momentum-changing errors. “Good teams focus on the details and the habits they’ve built,” and don’t get distracted once they have a three-goal lead, Kompon said.

Honors and opportunities: Oliver Bjorkstrand was named the Denny’s WHL Player of the Week for the week ending Nov. 30. Bjorkstrand (19 goals, 17 assists) is tied for fifth in the WHL in scoring with 36 points.

• Nic Petan (Canada) and Chase De Leo (USA) this week were named to the selection lists for the 2015 World Junior Championships, which run Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Toronto and Montreal. Canada’s training camp opens Dec. 11. The United States camp runs Dec. 16-19.

Austin Gray signs: The Winterhawks have signed 17-year-old forward Austin Gray, who is expected to join the Hawks next season. Playing for the Cariboo Cougars, Gray leads the British Columbia Major Midget League with 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 19 games.

Teddy Bear Toss: Saturday’s game against division-leading Everett is the Winterhawks annual Teddy Bear Toss game. As of Thursday, only a few tickets remained for the game at Memorial Coliseum.

Single-game tickets: Tickets for all remaining regular-season home games are now on sale at Winterhawks.com, the Rose Quarter ticket office, or the Winterhawks ticket office at Memorial Coliseum.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter