Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland (8-1-0-0) at Kelowna (4-4-1-1)

Dayna Fjord

Portland (8-1-0-0) at Kelowna (4-4-1-1) – 7:05 p.m. Prospera Place, Kelowna, BC


The Winterhawks will look to extend their six game winning streak against the Rockets tonight. It’s Portland’s third straight game against Kelowna. The Hawks took the first two games of the season series this past weekend, outscoring Kelowna 13-6. Portland was 1-1 in Kelowna during the regular season last year and is 3-5 over the last five years visiting the Rockets.

PREVIOUS GAME: Kieffer Bellows scored twice as the Winterhawks took down the Rockets 8-2 for their sixth straight win.

Portland dominated the first period with three goals on 13 shots. Mason Mannek scored the first goal of the game just over three minutes in. Then after the Hawks killed off a 5-on-3 penalty, Kieffer Bellows netted his third goal in three games with an assist from Joachim Blichfeld. Jake Gricius would score at the end of the first period to make it a 3-0 lead.

Portland continued their strong play into the second period. Skyler McKenzie potted a goal on an assist from Ty Kolle. Bellows buried his second goal of the game on a pass from Cody Glass. At the 15 minute mark, McKenzie converted on the power play with his tenth goal of the season. Kelowna ended the period with a goal to make it a 6-1 Winterhawks lead.

The Hawks took an 8-1 lead after goals from Ilijah Colina and Joachim Blichfeld late in the period. Kelowna would add one more late to make it an 8-2 final.

Shane Farkas made 33 saves on 35 shots to pick up his second win of the season. The Hawks improve to 8-1-0-0.

WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Defenseman Henri Jokiharju has 11 points during the Hawks six game winning streak. During that span, he trails only the Wheat Kings’ Kale Clague in points among D-men in the WHL. The Hawks defensive group will also see the return of Brendan De Jong tonight, who has served his three game suspension.

Upfront, Skyler McKenzie is on a tear. He has eight goals during the Hawks winning streak and is tied for second in the WHL with 10 goals on the season. Kieffer Bellows has four goals in three games and is on a four game point streak.

STAT OF THE DAY: The Winterhawks power play is converting at 43.5% (10-23) during their six game winning streak.

TODAY’S OPPONENT: After starting the season strong with a 4-1-0-1 record, the Rockets suddenly find themselves on a four game losing streak. Two of those losses came last weekend against the Hawks in Portland. The Rockets couldn’t slow down the Winterhawks high flying offense, allowing 13 goals in the two games.

The Rockets have allowed 19 goals over the last four games and have given up four or more goals in six of their last eight contests. On Tuesday against the Americans, it wasn’t goaltending that was the problem. 17-year old goaltender James Porter was solid, allowing just two goals on 24 shots, but the Rockets could only muster one goal in the loss.

Upfront, forward Kyle Topping has been playing well, he has three goals and six points over the last four games. Defenseman Cal Foote has gone cold after starting the year on a torrid pace. Foote had eight points in Kelowna’s first three games, but has just one point in his last seven games.

Perhaps all the Rockets need is a little home cooking. Including the playoffs, Kelowna was 4-1-0-0 at home against Portland last season.

Here’s how the two teams have played against each other head-to-head this season:

Winterhawks: 2-0-0-0                    Rockets: 0-2-0-0

Season Series:
10/14/17 – Kelowna 4 @ Portland 5

10/15/17 – Kelowna 2 @ Portland 8

10/20/17 – Portland @ Kelowna

10/21/17 – Portland @ Kelowna

Top Regular Season Scorers Versus Opposing Team:

WINTERHAWKS:                                                            ROCKETS:

  1. Joachim Blichfeld: 2 GP: 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS      1. Kyle Topping:          2 GP: 2 G, 1 A, 3 PTS
  2. Henri Jokiharju:    2 GP: 1 G, 4 A, 5 PTS       2. Erik Gardiner:         2 GP: 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
  3. Kieffer Bellows:      2 GP: 2 G, 3 A, 5 PTS     3. Carson Twarynski: 2 GP: 2 G, 0 A, 2 PTS

The Winterhawks return home on Tuesday to take on the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Tickets are available HERE!

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