The Portland Winterhawks are here, minus coach Mike Johnston, who was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating league policies. Johnston is not allowed to have contact with his team or be in a WHL arena until after the playoffs.
Despite Johnston being gone, the Winterhawks have moved forward. They are 4-1 since Johnston was banned from the bench. The lone loss was to Tri-City on Friday — 3-2 — as Luke Lee-Knight was stellar in net for the Americans.
Johnston may be gone for the rest of the year, but the Winterhawks have enough talent to overcome his absence. Ty Rattie, Mac Carruth, Derrick Pouliot, Tyler Wotherspoon, Troy Rutkowski, Seth Jones, Brendan Leipsic and Nic Petan. What’s not to like about those guys (except Mac’s temper).
Saturday night, Portland beat Seattle 6-2 on the road for its 500th road win in franchise history. Carruth also picked up his 100th career win — all with Portland.
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While Luke Lee-Knight had a career night against Portland on Friday, Eric Comrie will get his shot at the Winterhawks tonight. Comrie has been to the go-to guy all season, and rarely has he disappointed. Hard to believe he’s just 17.
Friday, Tri-City forward Malte Strömwall picked up his 50th WHL point with a goal against Portland.
Americans captain Justin Feser needs just one point to tie Stu Barnes for 8th on the team's all-time points list.
Congrats go out to Portland players Derrick Pouliot, Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon, who were invited to participate in Canada's World Junior selection camp Dec. 11-13 in Calgary. Those who make the team will depart Dec. 15 for the WJC in Russia.
And, Portland D-man Seth Jones was named to the preliminary roster for Team USA for the WJC. He will attend camp Dec. 16-18 in New York, with an additional camp in Finland. Team USA will be announced Dec. 23.
In Portland this season, your name has to start with a T to be part of the leadership group. The Winterhawks captain is TROY Rutkowski, while the alternate captains are TAYLOR Peters, TY Rattie and TYLER Wotherspoon. There is only one other player on the roster whose name starts with a T — Taylor Leier.
You can follow me throughout the game on Twitter (does anyone really do that?): @tchicequeen