|Oliver Bjorkstrand (Henning Blue Fox)|
Saturday Bjorkstrand doubled those numbers for a 4 point game (2-2-4) to help Portland hand Seattle a 2nd straight defeat 6-3. It was the 3rd straight game that Bjorkstrand had a goal in and one can say that his adapting to the North American game is off to a great start.
Bjorkstrand is 4-3-7 in 4 games which is good for 2nd in the WHL in preseason scoring. Now the question has to be what happens when the games count?
This was the preseason finale for the Winterhawks and Bjorkstrand has shown he knows what to with the puck but he was not the only Winterhawk to have a very good preseason. Seth Jones playing in only his 3rd preseason game added a 1-2-3 game to finish 1-4-5, Dominic Turgeon was scoreless but he was 3-2-5 and Ty Rattie was 1-4-5.
Portland is going to start the season with a very young team but it is also showing that it is going to be a very talented team too. The question now for Portland GM/Coach Mike Johnson is can he find a couple of experienced forwards to help offset the loss of Sven Bartschi and when the NHL gets going Ty Rattie?
Johnson's track record says he can and if he does then Portland will remain a serious threat to win the WHL championship.
Staying in the WHL, Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) made his first appearance of the preseason as his Spokane Chiefs defeated arch rival Tri-City 5-3. Kichton was scoreless in the game as he waits to see if reports to the Islander's training camp (not likely) or the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in October.
Kichton hopes to crack the Sound Tiger's roster at their training camp but the odds are against him because the Islanders have 4 defenders who they can send to Bridgeport in the event of the lockout. Kichton's chances actually would improve when the NHL/NHLPA settle their differences as those same 4 defenders would open up a roster spot for Kichton when they are recalled by the Islanders.
Another Islander defensive prospect Griffin Reinhart (2012 1st) is also watching the NHL/NHLPA labor issues with interest. Reinhart is not eligible to play for Bridgeport but could play for the Islanders.
Reinhart was in the lineup for his Edmonton Oil Kings as they looked to earn a split of their trip to Prince George. It was Reinhart's preseason debut and at least for this game, Reinhart was wearing the "C" on his jersey.
Reinhart was scoreless with a minor for slashing and a +2 as Edmonton scored 4 straight goals to defeat Prince George 4-1. Reinhart is going to be quite the addition to the Islander blueline down the road and I could see him as their future captain.
Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) and his Peterborough Petes lost to the Oshawa Generals 5-1 for the 2nd straight time. Ceresnak wound up getting a lot of ice time after the already depleted Petes lineup lost 6 players due to fights in the 2nd period.
Ceresnak is going to be seeing plenty of ice time at the beginning of the season as the Petes will not have the services of their captain and Ceresnak's partner Slater Koekkoek for at least 2 weeks. Koekkoek suffered a "deep bruise" in the Pete's last game against the Generals.
It was the hit on Koekkoek that led to the fighting in this game which in turn is expected to result in suspensions to several of those involved. Trying to find a silver lining in this and it will only be if Ceresnak steps up during this period.
J.T. Miller got the night off as his Plymouth Whalers lost to the London Knights 3-1. Don't read anything into it as Plymouth knows what Miller can do but they need to see what others do when Miller is away from the team.
The WHL and QMJHL for the most part are finished with exhibitions while the OHL will be going for another week. But we all know where everyone's attention is going to be focused at.