Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland (7-1-0-0) vs. Kelowna (4-2-1-1)
The Winterhawks battle the Kelowna Rockets for the second time in as many nights on Sunday. The Hawks took the first game of the season series 5-4 on a Skyler McKenzie overtime winner. Portland has now won five straight games; the Winterhawks won five in a row on three occasions last season.
PREVIOUS GAME: Skyler McKenzie buried his eighth goal of the season 24 seconds into overtime to give the Hawks a 5-4 win over Kelowna on Saturday.
The Hawks dominated the first period with Joachim Blichfeld, who was playing in his first game since September 30th due to an upper body injury, scoring just over seven minutes in. The Hawks then took a 3-0 lead after goals from Kieffer Bellows and Henri Jokiharju.
In the second, Kelowna began their comeback with Carsen Twarynski scoring on the man advantage. The Rockets would add one more later in the period with Erik Gardiner picking up his third of the season.
In the third, Kelowna completed the comeback with Kyle Topping potting his fourth of the year. But the Hawks came right back with Brad Ginnell burying a rebound to give Portland a 4-3 lead. But with just under five minutes remaining, Carsen Twarynski scored his second of the game to tie things up.
The Hawks would then head to their first overtime of the season, and it didn’t take long to solve things. Skyler McKenzie scored on a beautiful between-the-legs goal just 24 seconds in. The win is the Winterhawks fifth straight and they improve to 7-1-0-0 on the year.
WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: The obvious choice is the Joachim Blichfeld. Blichfeld has owned the Rockets during his time with the Hawks. Including the postseason, the San Jose Sharks draft-pick has piled up seven goals and 14 points in 10 games against Kelowna.
Another player to watch is Brad Ginnell. The 6’1” forward has played a larger role in the offense early this season with the Hawks dealing with some injuries upfront. Ginnell has risen to the occasion scoring twice in the last two games. He already has five points on the season after registering 10 all of last year.
STAT OF THE DAY: Dating back to last season, forward Skyler McKenzie has 14 goals and 25 points in his last 18 regular season games.
TODAY’S OPPONENT: Despite the loss yesterday, the Rockets did well picking up a point considering they were down 3-0 after the first period. Kyle Topping was a key part of the Rockets comeback yesterday. The second-year forward had two points in the loss and now has five points in his last two games. The Hawks will also have to do a better job of slowing down the Rockets top line of Carsen Twarynski, Dillon Dube and Erik Gardiner. The line contributed three of Kelowna’s four goals and each forward had two points in the loss.
With Kelowna losing in overtime, the Rockets still have not lost in regulation in Portland since September 28th, 2012. Kelowna’s road record in Portland during that stretch is 7-0-2-0.
17-year old goaltender James Porter got the start on Saturday night, so it’s likely Brodan Salmond will be between the pipes tonight. Salmond has struggled as of late, allowing four or more goals in three straight games. The 5’11” goaltender has a 3-2-0-1 record on the year with a 3.69 GAA and .872 SV%.
Here’s how the two teams have played against each other head-to-head this season:
Winterhawks: 1-0-0-0 Rockets: 0-1-0-0
10/14/17 – Kelowna 4 @ Portland 5 (OT)
10/15/17 – Kelowna @ Portland
10/20/17 – Portland @ Kelowna
10/21/17 – Portland @ Kelowna
Top Regular Season Scorers Versus Opposing Team:
- Joachim Blichfeld: 1 GP: 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS 1. Carson Twarynski: 1 GP: 2 G, 0 A, 2 PTS
- Henri Jokiharju: 1 GP: 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS 2. Erick Gardiner: 1 GP: 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
- Kieffer Bellows: 1 GP: 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS 3. Kyle Topping: 1 GP: 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS