PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Winterhawks will be starting the season minus a few players as nine have reported to NHL camps. Alex Schoenborn, Dominic Turgeon, Adin Hill, Paul Bittner, Keegan Iverson, Blake Heinrich, Caleb Jones were drafted, Rodrigo Abols and Keoni Texiera left the team midway through preseason scrimmages for NHL invites. This left the Winterhawks shorthanded for a couple of games.
Portland brought over 30 players to the first set of scrimmage games taking place in Everett, Washington, which featured all US Division teams plus the Victoria Royals. The Hawks wiped out Spokane Chiefs 7-2 in a game where Spokane left their overage players at home. The following day, the Hawks picked up an overtime win over the Tri-City Americans 3-2 on a goal that was fired by Paul Bittner through the net. Their last game was a loss to the Everett Silvertips 4-3. Portland saw it's main roster players play very well and overall as a team, the Winterhawks seemed to have few holes to fill, despite their loss of Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Chase DeLeo to the pros.
The following week saw the action switch to Kennewick, Washington, where Portland battled hard without its core group and lost two of the three games they played. Portland defeated Prince George Cougars 3-2 in a Wednesday night affair. Spokane took a 7-2 win using all their players available to them, but 2 who were also set on NHL camps and followed it up with a 3-1 loss to Everett to conclude their scrimmage series.
The Winterhawks were set to take on Everett in Portland at the Winterhawks Skating Center on September 18, only to have the game switched up to Everett just this past week. During training camp, the Skating Center experienced some issues with the roof, which allowed water to seep onto the ice and grandstands. It was determined that the ice conditions would not be suitable for a high speed game, but would not affect the other activities which could work around the roof issues and subsequent repairs.
Portland is still carrying a 32 man roster including three goaltenders, ten defensemen and nineteen forwards. A typical roster carries a 20 man playing roster (18 skaters, 2 goaltenders) with four to five players available for injuries and other options for lineup adjustments.
During the past couple of months, Portland signed several players to standard WHL player agreements which may figure into the lineup this season. Among the standouts include Tanner Nagel, Bronson Sharp and Ryan Hughes. Ethan Middendorf was a strong prospect at camp and signed with the team during training camp.
Players who have appeared with the team last season briefly who are seeking another shot to make the team include Colton Veloso, Carter Czaikowski and Reed Morison. Other players who came in briefly last season and could only stay for a handful of games owing to age and commitments to their respective junior teams include Austin Gray and Cody Glass, who are expected to make a big impact with the club this season.
Portland now works towards the rescheduled game on September 18 in Everett and then gears up for the regular season eight days later as the Hawks start on the road with a doubleheader against the Victoria Royals. Portland will then take a week off before their home opener against the Everett Silvertips on Saturday, October 3, followed by the Spokane Chiefs on Friday, October 9.
Plenty of action will follow those games as four games will be played in the next six nights. By then, the Hawks should have several players back from NHL camps.
Portland Winterhawks fans will have a chance to meet a few of the players at Les Schwab in West Linn on Wednesday, September 30, from 4 - 6pm. Players will be announced the week of the event. The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club has announced its fan trip to Alberta in February during the Central Swing is already selling with nearly half the allotted seats already being requested.
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