Monday, December 5, 2022
Dec. 5, 2022

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Jr. hockey notes: Winterhawks getting back to full strength

By , Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter

Portland Winterhawks

This week: Host Seattle at Moda Center, 7 p.m. Friday; at Everett, 7:05 p.m., Saturday; at Victoria, 7:05 p.m. Monday; at Everett, 7:35 p.m. Oct. 10.

Last week: Lost 5-3 at Vancouver; lost 5-1 to Everett; lost 6-4 to Everett.

Where they stand: At 0-5 Portland is the only winless team in the Western Conference and one of only three without a win in the WHL.

Welcome back: Oliver Bjorkstrand practiced with the Hawks starting on Tuesday. As of midweek, only forward Nic Petan remained in a NHL training camp. At 19, Petan must return to the Hawks if he doesn’t stick with the Jets — though he can play up to nine games in the NHL and still return to the WHL this season.

Chase De Leo has three goals and one assist in three games since returning from Winnipeg’s training camp. He noted that he seldom experienced a losing streak in his first three seasons with the Hawks.

“No one likes losing, but it is something you have to go through, especially with these young guys and I think it will help the young guys,” De Leo said.

“I’m a big believer in just being positive and working hard and having fun and good things will come, so I want to be a captain on this team and I want to lead this team to the Memorial Cup,” De Leo said.

Effort praised: First-year coach Jamie Kompon said his team hasn’t lacked for effort, but that its execution needs to improve. He said the emphasis is on getting everyone on the same page now that players have returned from NHL camps where they were playing different systems.

“No excuses are needed here. We have to be better. We have to win games,” Kompon said. “At the same time, we’ve got to look at where we want to get to. Our young players, they showed us a lot in the first two games when they didn’t have any real veteran support.”

Welcome to Portland: Miles Koules, a versatile 20-year-old forward, was acquired in a trade that sent a fourth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft to Medicine Hat. Koules scored 25 goals last season and has 45 goals and 47 WHL assists all with Medicine Hat. He attended the Washington Capitals rookie camp this season, his third NHL rookie camp.

“He hangs onto the puck. He wants to make plays. He’s got good speed,” Kompon said. “He can move up and down our lineup and play all three forward positions, which is a big asset.”

Koules, a friend of De Leo, said he expected to be traded and is glad it was to Portland. The Winterhawks have four 20-year-olds — including defensemen Josh Hanson and Joshua Smith and winger Travis McEvoy. They have until Oct. 15 to get down to three overage players.

Injury report: Hanson (broken finger) has been practicing but has not yet played in a game. Defenseman Blake Heinrich has not returned to practice since suffering a concussion during preseason.

Fort Vancouver Vipers

This week: at West Sound, 7:35 p.m. Friday host West Sound, 7:35 p.m. at Mountain View Ice Arena.

Last week: lost 12-0 and 10-1 to Bellingham.

Where they stand: At 0-4, the Vipers are last in the eight-team NPHL.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter