Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Monday Holiday

Portland Winterhawks
It was a sad joke watching the NHL with their "Hockey is back" promos because really their promos should be more along the lines of "we take your money and then expect you to give us even more." Part of the reason that I enjoy hockey at the Canadian junior and NCAA levels is how much harder they work to try to earn your entertainment dollar.

At this level you get to see some very imaginative ways to get people to come out and attend games. Monday I mixed work with pleasure as the Portland Winterhawks held one of their promotion games.

It was the "Burgerville Daylight Classic" where the Winterhawks teamed with a local burger chain and pulled open the curtains to let the daylight come in. It is a neat trick as it makes the Portland Memorial Coliseum an inviting place to take in a hockey game.

In reality it is not a great place to watch a game at as the MC is over 50 years old and needs some serious work all over the place. Still getting to attend a hockey game that was really an indoor outdoor game had it's appeal as 5347 attended the afternoon game between the Hawks and the Spokane Chiefs.

The Chiefs with Islander prospect Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) caught the Winterhawks at the right time as Portland was coming off a long winning streak so they were suffering from the "winning streak hangover". Teams that have the 10-15 game streaks end are a bit lost for a few games as you get used to everything working perfect and streak is over and nothing works.

Kichton saw a 11 game scoring streak end (6-11-17) but while he didn't score, he didn't play badly either. Kichton averaged 10 shifts a period, he was out on both special teams and he adjusted his game as it went on. Spokane took advantage of some bad Portland plays to earn a 5-2 win.

Not knocking Portland's coach Travis Green but he was going against a very veteran Don Nachbaur and Nachbaur adapted his team's efforts as the game went on.

Portland had no legs at all, Seth Jones on 1 shift alone made 3 turnovers and almost put the puck on a Spokane player's stick to where he would have had a clean breakaway. A veteran coach sees how the other team is not mentally in the game and uses that.

Nachbaur shortened the shifts, used everyone on his bench and rewarded players who had strong shifts by sending them right back out there. By the 3rd period, the Spokane players were all standing up wanting their next shift while the Portland bench was like a morgue, no energy, no effort.

At the end was the kind of stuff hockey needs to get rid of as 3 Portland players fought 3 Spokane players. Dumb just totally dumb as if you are trying to send a message for the next time the 2 teams meet then you should have used this fighting energy during the game.

Another Portland player at the buzzer got hit with an "intent to injure" so he can expect to sit for a couple of games. Before anyone says I am getting soft; I respect fighting to protect your teammates but these late game fight cards are senseless and one day someone is going to get badly hurt.

Oh and the 2 teams will most likely be asked for some cash by the WHL. Both team play each other on Wednesday night in Spokane.

The only other game saw Adam Pelech (NYI 2012 3rd) and his Erie Otters get spanked 7-1 by the Plymouth Whalers. Not much one can say as it was 3-1 after 1, 6-1 after 2 so hit the buses and head back to Erie boys, this was a lesson for next year.

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