There’s hot, then there’s red-hot. Once you pass through those categories, you start moving into the area of being “white-hot.”
That’s where the Winterhawks find themselves, just six weeks into their 2012-13 WHL season.
Portland’s win on Sunday over Kamloops at the Memorial Coliseum was the teams’ 12th in a row.
“When we started, I think we were 4-3,” said Mike Johnston who doubles as the teams’ Head Coach and General Manager. “Since then we’ve played really consistent hockey. I’ve been really pleased with the young guys.”
So has the guy who watches the action from between the pipes, goaltender Mac Carruth.
“I think with a young team, you have guys who are willing to work a little bit harder on the back check, and not just at the end of the year when the playoffs are coming around. But we’re going to work hard all season,” Carruth said.
The last time the Winterhawks lost was way back on October 9th; a 3-2 defeat to Regina.
Since that Tuesday night, they’ve been flawless and 11 of the 12 consecutive wins have come by at least a three-goal margin. On two occasions, they exploded for nine goals.
The play of his forwards is what Mike Johnston was most pleased about.
“It’s a tough league,” the coach said, “especially for younger forwards to come into and get their confidence. And now you can see our guys getting their confidence after 20-games.”
Gaining confidence, while picking up points in the standings. But easily the most impressive part of this streak, and their season so far, was Portland’s long-standing ability to survive the attrition of minor league hockey.
Ten players are gone from last years’ team, which reached the league finals. Big-time college programs like to say they reload, rather than rebuild. That is precisely what the Winterhawks have done.
“We’re realistic,” said Johnston. “We know we’re going to have some highs and lows. We have ten players we’re trying to integrate and that’s a big change for us.” But the more things change over at the coliseum, the more they stay the same. And nothing has changed since October 9th. Except the number next to the winning streak…