Portland (20-9-0-1) at Spokane (16-11-1-2) – 7:05 p.m. – Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA
The Winterhawks take on the Spokane Chiefs for the fifth time this season on Tuesday. Portland leads the season series 4-0 so far. The Winterhawks have outshot the Chiefs 20-3 over those four games. Portland enters the game first in the U.S. Division with a record of 20-9-0-1.
PREVIOUS GAME RECAP: Winterhawks’ defenseman John Ludvig scored the coveted Teddy Bear Toss goal just under three minutes into the third period but Portland came up just short against Everett 2-1 on Saturday night.
After a scoreless first period, Everett got on the board twice in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Winterhawks defenseman John Ludvig and Everett D-man Montana Onyebuchi had a spirited scrap shortly after the goals that brought the nearly sold out Veterans Memorial Coliseum to it’s feet.
In the third, Portland finally broke through with Ludvig picking up his second of the season and bears came raining down. It was just the fourth time in Portland’s Teddy Bear Toss history that the goal was scored by a defenseman.
Portland heavily outplayed Everett for the remainder of the game, outshooting the Silvertips 20-4 in the period. But Silvertips goaltender Carter Hart stood tall and held off Portland’s late push. The Silvertips would take it 2-1.
TODAY’S OPPONENT: The Spokane Chiefs enter tonight’s game with the Hawks in 3rd place in the U.S. Division. The Chiefs are coming off a 9-2 shellacking of the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday. Slovakian import Milos Fafrak had a hat-trick in the game and a total of five players had multi-point nights.
This will be the first time the Winterhawks will face Spokane with Kailer Yamamoto in the Chiefs lineup. The Edmonton Oilers first round draft pick has 10 points in 12 games since returning from the NHL, but just one goal. Yamamoto led the Chiefs in scoring last season with 99 points. Much like Kieffer Bellows of the Winterhawks, this will likely be Yamamoto’s last game before he departs for Team USA’s training camp for the 2018 World Junior Championship.
Highly touted defenseman Ty Smith continues to see his draft stock rise. Smith has had a fantastic start to the season for the Chiefs, registering 29 points in 30 games. The former first overall pick of the Chiefs, is expected to be a top 10 pick in the 2018 NHL Entry draft.
Hudson Elynuik, the Carolina Hurricanes draft pick, leads Spokane in scoring with 14 goals and 39 points on the season.
In net, Dawson Weatherill has been carrying the load for the Chiefs. The 18-year old goaltender has made 22 starts this season and has a 10-7-1-0 record with a 3.12 GAA. Weatherill has been particularly solid over his last six games, going 3-2-0-1 with a 2.50 GAA and .916 SV%.
WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: In four games against Spokane this season, Skyler McKenzie leads Portland with three goals and seven points. His linemate, Kieffer Bellows, has also had success against Spokane this year, scoring three times in four games.
Cole Kehler has made all four starts against Spokane, and is a perfect 4-0-0-0 with a .973 SV% and a 1.00 GAA.
With Cody Glass departing for Team Canada’s World Junior camp, keep an eye on who moves up in the lineup. Will Alex Overhardt find himself between Bellows and McKenzie? Or will McKenzie slot into the middle, with Blichfeld moving up into the top unit? The line configurations for tonight’s game should be very interesting.
One last note, Portland called up highly touted prospects’ Seth Jarvis, Connor Bowie, and Jaydon Dureau on Monday in anticipation of the departures of Bellows, Blichfeld and Jokiharju to their respective countries’ World Junior camps. While it’s unlikely you will see any of the three Winterhawks prospects tonight, the expectation is Winterhawks fans may see a couple of “first WHL games” this upcoming Saturday at the VMC.
STAT OF THE DAY: The Winterhawks are 15-3-0-2 in their last 20 games here in Spokane.
Here’s how the two teams have played head-to-head this season:
Winterhawks: 4-0-0-0 Chiefs: 0-4-0-0
10/06/17 – Portland 6 @ Spokane 1
10/08/17 – Spokane 2 @ Portland 7
10/10/17 – Spokane 0 @ Portland 3
11/03/17 – Portland 4 @ Spokane 1
12/12/17 – Portland @ Spokane
12/16/17 – Spokane @ Portland
01/05/18 – Portland @ Spokane
03/18/18 – Spokane @ Portland
The Winterhawks return home on Saturday to take on the Chiefs, this time at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Make sure to grab your tickets HERE!