Thursday, April 6, 2017

Things that make me go hmm

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  • One of the great match-ups to watch in this series is Kelowna Rockets forward Dillon Dube against Portland Winterhawks defenceman Caleb Jones. Jones took a gold medal away from Dube when Team USA beat Team Canada in the championship game at the World Junior Hockey Championship in January. I am sure Dube would like to settle the score as the two players clash in game one of the Western Conference semi final tomorrow night at Prospera Place. But this likely won't be the last battle between these two marquee players. Dube is a second round NHL draft pick of the Calgary Flames while Jones is a 4th rounder of the Edmonton Oilers. Could the two face one another in the 'Battle of Alberta' down the road?
  • This really stood out for me. In the Winterhawks opening round series with the Prince George Cougars, in three separate games, Portland was able to score quickly after the Cougars found the back of the net. In game one, the Winterhawks scored :50 seconds after the Cougars did. In game four, Portland scored ;59 seconds after Prince George was able to get a puck past goaltender Cole Kehler. In game 6, the Cougars scored only to see the Winterhawks respond 1:07 minutes after. Is that just coincidence or shire luck? I don't think so. Either the Cougars, mentally, let down there guard the shift after scoring a goal or Portland's coaching staff are able to rally it's players after surrendering a goal. Let's see how the Rockets react when they score and if they are able to weather the storm unlike the Cougars were able too.
  • The way the Winterhawks acquired leading scorer Cody Glass is interesting. Without a 1st round bantam pick in the 2014 WHL bantam draft because of league sanctions, the Winterhawks elected to trade the playing rights of forward Adam Tambellini to the Calgary Hitmen. In return, the Winterhawks obtained a 1st round pick which they used to select Glass. Tambellini had two solid seasons with the Hitmen, but Portland made the most of that choice to get into a prime position to select a dynamic player. Glass was a Western Conference 1st team all-star this season and was top 10 in scoring in the WHL. Not bad for a player who hasn't yet been drafted by an NHL team. 
  • Watch Glass and draft eligible Kole Lind and tell me at series end which made a great impact. If you don't think NHL scouts won't be making comparisons, you are fooling yourself. 
  • Who is responsible for the Winterhawks European selections in the CHL Import Draft? That pipeline to Denmark born players isn't luck kids. Nope! Joachim Blichfeld had 28 goals in his rookie season and who can forget Danish forward Oliver Bjorkstrand. High 5 for hitting a home run with both of those players.
  • Stating the obvious here, but if you forgot, Kelowna Rockets Lucas Johansen and Portland's defender Caleb Jones have something in common. The two players saw their older brothers traded for one another in an NHL trade back in January, 2016.  Ryan Johansen, a former Winterhawks forward, was dealt to Nashville for Seth Jones, who is now an anchor on the Columbus Blue Jackets blue line.   
  •  The Rockets still own the playing rights to 17 year-old Cooper Harr. Cooper, a 4th round bantam pick from 2014, is the younger brother of former Portland Winterhawks defenceman Garrett Haar.  
  • How times flies. Portland Winterhawks alumni Jeff Finley has a son, Jack, who is expected to be a first round pick in next month's WHL bantam draft. Jeff played three full seasons with the Winterhawks in the early 80's before eventually playing 708 games in the NHL. Now making his home in Kelowna, Jeff Finley was an assistant coach with the WHL champion Rockets in 2008-2009. Jack Finley played at Pursuit of Excellence this season and scored 23+25= 48 in 27 games. With Finley's association with the Hawks as a player, would it be a nice landed spot for his son? That question will be answered as early as next month.       
  • It only seems fitting that the Portland Winterhawks stand in the way of the Kelowna Rockets making a 4th straight appearance in the Western Conference final. The Winterhawks made 5 straight appearances in the WCF between 2010 and 2015. 
  • With Mike Johnson at the helm, the Winterhawks have never been eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs. In the 2009-2010 season they were eliminated in the second round by the Vancouver Giants in 6 games.   
  • Winterhhawks forward Matt Revel should know the Kelowna Rockets well. The 20 year-old was a member of the Kamloops Blazers last season that met the Rockets in an epic game seven opening round series. Revel had a goal and two assists in game four 5-1 Blazers win.
  • Heading into this series, Portland goaltender Cole Kehler had no WHL playoff experience. Michael Herringer has played 28 games of post season hockey. Kehler now has 6 games under his belt. Kehler was 0-2-0-0 vs. the Rockets this season with a goals against average of 3.57.
  • Winterhawks forward Keegan Iverson has an amazing 66 games of playoff experience, the most of any in this series. 
  • Skyler McKenzie had 8 goals last season. This season the 5'8 forward had 42. How do you go from 8 goals to 42? That's not normal, but it's an amazing accomplishment. 42 goals from an 8th round bantam pick, Again, that's not normal.
  • Looking for a hard fought series? It should be, but the Winterhawks don't take bonehead penalties. While they were in the middle of the pack this season in terms of total penalties minutes, they were among the league leaders in fewest fighting majors. 
  • Somewhere, former Prince George Cougars head coach Mark Holick is smirking.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Scoring quickly after allowing a goal has been a hallmark of Johnston coached teams in Portland. Should be another epic series!