Winterhawks end nine-game skid

Calgary Hitmen right winger Tyler Mrkonjic (white) faces off against Portland Winterhawk left winger Skyler McKenzie (black) at the Moda Center on Nov. 12.

Calgary Hitmen right winger Tyler Mrkonjic (white) faces off against Portland Winterhawk left winger Skyler McKenzie (black) at the Moda Center on Nov. 12.

 

Cody Glass has a natural hat trick in win over the Calgary hitmen

By Travis David V Whittaker

With a thorn in their side of a nine game losing streak, on Saturday night the Portland Winterhawks ended that streak by thumping a Central Division foe, the Calgary Hitmen with a final score of 9-2.
Entering the game, the Winterhawks sat in fourth place in the U.S. Division with 16 points and an overall record of 8-12-0. The Hitmen made the trip to Portland looking to get another win on their U.S. Division swing. They entered the game at 7-5-2 with 16 points overall and in fourth place in the Central Division.

Head Coach, General Manager and Vice President of the Portland Winterhawks, Mike Johnston knew that the Hawks’ usual style of play would give them success.

“If we want to play our game at the highest level then it’s going to be hard for teams beat us on a regular basis,” Johnston said.

Only a few minutes in, Calgary took the lead with the first goal of the game from right winger Tyler Mrkonjic. It was his fourth goal of the season.

Winterhawks fans’ eyes rolled with an “Oh great here we go again” look in their eyes, but not so fast. Winterhawks centreman and leading scorer on the team with 25 points entering the night, Cody Glass quickly img_6576erased that one goal deficit with a natural hat trick—scoring three goals in a span of just under eight minutes in the first period.

Glass, a 17 year-old and prospect for the upcoming NHL draft this June, came into the season only scoring a total of 10 goals all last season as a rookie with 65 games played. He now has a total of 10 this season after scoring his natural hat trick on Saturday, Nov. 12, in just 21 games played so far this season.

After the game, I was able to catch up with Glass and talk about how it felt to score the natural hat trick and his second tally of the night.

“It was an awesome feeling. Skylar [McKenzie] and Keegs [Iverson] were a huge part of it,” Glass said. “It was just the right spot, right time. Skylar made a great pass and putting it over the shoulder of Calgary goalie Cody Porter.”

Glass finished the game with three goals and two assists for a total of five points on the night, and was the game’s number one star.

During the second period, the Winterhawks exploded for five goals to bust the game wide open. Four of the five goals came via the special teams. The Hawks even forced the Hitmen to yank starting goaltender Porter who gave up five goals on 21 Portland shots.

Portland scored two power play goals by defenseman Caleb Jones and forward Ryan Hughes. Forward Skylar McKenzie and defenceman Brenden De Jong scored shorthanded goals only 19 seconds apart.

During the nine-game losing streak the Winterhawks had some problems with the penalty kill. For the season the Hawks have been shorthanded 98 times and allowing 18 goals while a man short.

Winterhawks defenseman and Edmonton Oilers prospect, Jones commented on the penalty kill.

“We had a great pre-scout on the system that coach Oliver David told us exactly what they wereimg_6579 going to do and we were able to shut it down,” said Jones. “We still took too many penalties tonight. It’s a certain area we need to keep working on—maybe three a game max. That’s too many and unacceptable.”

The Winterhawks finished the game 2 out of 5 on the power play and killed all five of the penalties that they took.

With the Winterhawks up 8-1 entering the third and final period they added another goal from Danish left winger Joachim Blichfeld, who sniped one past Hitmen goalie Kyle Dumba stick-side to make the score 9-1.

The Hitmen added another goal 25 seconds later by centreman Mark Kastelic.

Portland ended up outshooting the Hitmen 43-36. Portland netminder Cole Kehler liked the way that the defencemen played in front of him.

“Thirty-six shots might seem like a lot,” said Kehler. “But when the guys play like they did in front of me, you know boxing out, letting me see shots from the point just really making it easy on me. Out of the 36 shots I probably saw all 36 of them. It was a really good night from that standpoint.”

McKenzie and Jones each added four points on the night. Hughes, Iverson, and Blichfeld added two points each.

The Winterhawks will be back in action, Nov. 19, when they host their Interstate 5 rival, the Seattle Thunderbirds, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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