Portland Winterhawks at Seattle Thunderbirds: Preview, updates, chat, how to listen and watch

What: The Portland Winterhawks (47-15-4-1) take on the Seattle Thunderbirds (27-38-2) in Western Hockey League action.

When: Sunday, March 24, 5pm PDT.

Where: accesso ShoWare Center, Kent, Washington.

Watch: The game is on locally in Portland on Portland’s CW. Or you can stream the game via the CHL TV pay per view (about US$7.50 for one game).

Listen: Winterhawks and Thunderbirds audio.


Portland Winterhawks

The Portland Winterhawks are now locked into the 2nd seed of the WHL’s Western Conference, and so this is a meaningless game. It won’t matter in the long run, but it will be a bit disappointing to have the top seed lost with two overtime losses, one where they had a 2-goal lead going into the 3rd period, one where the shot margin was 52-14 against a team they beat 11-1 the week before.

Now they prepare for the Victoria Royals on Friday and Saturday. As part of that, in this game they won’t want to either do anything stupid that gets a suspension or do something reckless that gets themselves injured. Looking at some of the results of Saturday’s games, that won’t be completely easy.

Portland is 7-0-2 in the season series with the Thunderbirds after the Saturday win; the Thunderbirds are 2-7.

2013-James Stefan (273 games)
16-Gabe Klassen (268)
92-Jack O’Brien (274)
1919-Kyle Chyzowski (226)
71-Josh Davies (203)
72-Marcus Nguyen (235)
89-Nate Danielson (205)
188-Braeden Jockims (40)
28-Josh Zakreski (159)
39-Tyson Yaremko (58)
1729-Hudson Darby (57)
90-Diego Buttazzoni (131)
1618-Kyle McDonough (57)
23-Ryan Miller (46)

Jack O’Brien had the game-winning goal in his final home game in Portland.

It’s possible (probable?) that Portland’s top players will sit in preparation for Friday’s game. So it’s good Stefan got his 100th point on Saturday and that didn’t become a consideration.

If he plays, Danielson will be defending a 5-game point streak.

Leading forwards: Klassen (106 points/67 games), Stefan (100/66), Danielson (66/54), Davies (61/54), Nguyen (55/65).

192-Josh Mori (170)
26-Marek Alscher (197)
27-Tyson Jugnauth (40)
43-Ryder Thompson (215)
73-Luca Cagnoni (225)
1859-Carter Sotheran (142)
1791-Alex Thompson (58)

If Cagnoni doesn’t play, he’ll be the top-scoring defenseman in the league by 10 points. He has a 7-game point streak.

Leading defensemen: Cagnoni (91/65), Jugnauth (41/40), Sotheran (38/65).

1931-Jan Špunar (75)
34-Justen Maric (16)
1736-Luke Brunen (11)

There was some percentage in starting Špunar in his 14th consecutive game Saturday, although not much, and it didn’t work since he gave up 4 goals on 24 shots and had another howler. He (probably) won’t get his 15th in a row, but his overuse has made him a question mark going into the playoffs. Victoria, who has struggled to score recently, is a soft landing at least, but even playing well against them wouldn’t answer the questions.

Save percentages: Špunar .913, Maric .868, Brunen .879.

Seattle Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds’ season ends with this game. Coming into this season the thought was that they might have one last hurrah as a contender, before last season’s championship push caught up to them. It’s been the reverse. Injuries and bad luck (Kevin Korchinski) pushed them out of contention and even out of the playoffs, but they pivoted quickly and now look to be in decent shape for the next few years. Gracyn Sawchyn and Tij Iginla got them some draft picks back, and they got playing time in 11 16- and 17-year-olds, and they’ve looked promising even while taking their lumps.

They’ll get a free shot at Portland, who will be looking ahead to the playoffs and likely resting players. And expect a lot of residual nostalgia from last season.

2018-Sam Popowich (262)
19-Eric Alarie (298)
197-Jordan Gustafson (187)
26-Nico Myatovic (224)
29-Nathan Pilling (150)
85-Luca Hauf (103)
189-Coster Dunn (108)
1722-Simon Lovsin (55)
36-Oscar Lovsin (40)
81-Nishaan Parmar (65)
1624-Brayden Holberton (45)
77-Kazden Mathies (60)
86-Braeden Cootes (70)
89-Antonio Martorana (67)
91-Sam Charko (58)

Gustafson and Myatovic, two mainstays of the championship team who have had their seasons cut short by injury, will get honored playing in what is likely their last games.

Alarie if he plays will finish with 299 total games. He’ll finish 3 games behind Conner Roulette, who was an initial part of this age group with Seattle, as the most experienced player in the league. With the playoffs, Saskatoon’s Trevor Wong, currently with 288, might finish on top.

Cootes has a 7-game point streak.

Leading forwards: Alarie (41/64), Popowich (39/56), Martorana (39/67), Cootes (34/63), Pilling (30/55).

204-Jeremy Hanzel (261)
1944-Owen Boucher (184)
183-Ashton Cumby (138)
43-Sawyer Mynio (217)
175-Hyde Davidson (107)
8-Bryce Pickford (146)
1623-Caleb Potter (5)
27-Kaleb Hartmann (53)

Hanzel, not picked in the WHL draft, finishes off a great career. He has a 4-game point streak.

Mynio will be the team leader next season.

Leading defensemen: Hanzel (59/65), Mynio (53/62), Pickford (17/65).

1833-Scott Ratzlaff (110)
171-Spencer Michnik (23)

Ratzlaff was supposed to have the night off Saturday, but was called into duty in the 1st when it was 5-0 Portland. He’ll get one last game before the home crowd, and then will be poised to be one of the league’s best goalies next year.

Save percentages: Ratzlaff .905, Michnik .868.

Tale of the tape

Record47-15-4-1 (.739)27-38-2 (.418).541
Scored/allowed (diff)326-201 (+125)188-256 (-68)244-244
Goals allowed/game3.03.83.6
Power play26.8%23.8%23.3%
Penalty kill79.2%78.0%76.7%
Power plays for/game4.13.33.7
Power plays against/game3.93.73.7
Outshooting opponents58-8-127-36-433-33-2
After 1 period45-11-1117-33-1725-25-18
After 2 periods43-18-621-38-829-29-10
Score, last 10 games54-28 (+26)36-39 (-3)
Score, last 20 games103-52 (+51)58-77 (-19)
Total WHL games33813036
WHL drafted top 6089
NHL drafted65
NHL drafted top 8012
Players 6′2 or over58
Players 5′10 or under83

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