What: The Portland Winterhawks (1-0) take on the Kelowna Rockets (0-0) in Western Hockey League action.
When: Saturday, September 24, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Prosper Place, Kelowna, British Columbia.
Clock: You can stream the game via CHL TV pay-per-view (C$6.10 for one game).
Listen: Winterhawks audio.
- The score box.
- Get updates and chat before, during and after the game.
A strong start to the season for the Portland Winterhawks. They took advantage of a short-handed Kamloops Blazers team, totally controlling the first two periods and then playing defense to a lead in the third. Gabe Klassen led with two goals and Dante Giannuzzi recorded a 24-save shutout, the fourth of his career.
With the win, the 2-game tour is already a success, but they could make it even bigger with a win over the Kelowna Rockets. It’s a fairer fight than the Kamloops game, against a team likely to fight for playoff position.
|twenty||11-Robbie Fromm-Delorme (194 games)|
|19||92-Jack O’Brien (141)
13-James Stefan (134)
16-Gabe Klassen (129)
9-Aidan Little (79)
21-Jonah Bevington (65)
67-Dawson Pasternak (35)
|18||19-Kyle Chyzowski (100)
72-Marcus Nguyen (96)
77-Lucas Schelter (79)
39-Reid Mackay (22)
|17||28-Josh Zakreski (17)
93-Nicholas Johnson (3)
20-Aiden Jacks (1)
|sixteen||90-Diego Buttazzoni (1)|
Great contributions from veterans, led by centers Klassen and O’Brien. Sotas and Buttazzoni made their WHL debuts.
Stefan is still in pro camp.
Leading forward: Klassen (2 points/1 game), O’Brien (2/1), Nguyen (1/1), Chyzowski (1/1), Fromm-Delorme (1/1).
|twenty||47-Kurtis Smythe (127)|
|19||6-Ryan McCleary (92)|
|18||73-Luca Cagnoni (85)
43-Ryder Thompson (84)
26-Marek Alscher (72)
2-Josh Mori (46)
27-Nicolas Andrusiak (0)
|17||59-Carter Sotheran (1)
14-Rhett Ravndahl (0)
|sixteen||91-Alex Thompson (1)|
They covered very well the lack of two of their three best defenders, McCleary and Alscher. Sotheran and Alex Thompson made their WHL debuts; they looked like rookies but the veterans covered them well. This looks like a pretty solid group.
Main defenses: RyderThompson (1/1).
|twenty||74-Dante Giannuzzi (69)|
|18||31-jan Špunar (0)|
Giannuzzi was a spectator for two stints, then got very confident in the third.
Do you go with Giannuzzi from the shutout, or do you go with Špunar rested in the second of a followed path?
Donavan Bodnar was sent off, which makes sense if they go with Giannuzzi and Špunar at short notice. It’s hard to believe this will be the setup come playoff time.
Save percentages: Giannuzzi 1,000.
The Rockets start their 28th season in Kelowna. His 27th ended with a 5-game loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the playoffs, following a 5th-place finish in the conference and a 42-26 record.
Colton Dach is their biggest star, but he’s in pro camp. So the big players for him are two highly-rated NHL draft prospects, forward Andrew Cristall and defenseman Caden Price. Cristall was second in the Western Hockey League in points by 16-year-olds last year, trailing only Connor Bedard.
They have more in the prospect department, the Winterhawks have a little more in their veterans, but overall the teams look pretty even.
They will have by-rest advantage since they did not play on Friday.
|twenty||19-Adam Kydd (148)
23-Jake Poole (127)
|19||17-Colton Dachs (148)
10-Turner McMillen (90)
24-Dylan Wightman (85)
22-Gabriel Szturc (72)
|18||7-Max Graham (87)
21-Nolan Flamand (84)
15-Rilen Kovacevic (60)
16-Scott Cousins (49)
|17||28-Andrew Cristall (80)
9-Marcus Pacheco (59)
8-Grady Lenton (2)
12-Will Munro (0)
18-Ethan Neutens (0)
|sixteen||29-Logan Peskett (0)|
Behind Cristall you have Kydd, who scored 33 points in 39 games after being acquired, and then plenty of players behind him with midrange numbers hoping to step up.
|19||14-Elias Carmichael (137)
2-Noah Dorey (88)
27-Jackson DeSouza (72)
|18||5-John Babcock (71)|
|17||Price 4-Chain (51)
25-Jackson Romeril (0)
26-Logan Dochuk (0)
|sixteen||3-Ismail Abougouche (0)|
They will have to find some offense here. Their main scorers on defense are Babcock with 23 points and Price with 21.
|twenty||31-Talyn Boyko (107)|
|18||30-Jari Kykkanen (15)
1-Nicolas Cristiano (1)
Talyn Boyko is a pro and he’s pushing for a pro contract. Kykkanen played 13 games behind him last season, posting an .897 save percentage. Cristiano’s only game was a 31-for-32 game against Victoria in the COVID season.
|power games for/game||1.0||3.4|
|Power plays against/game||5.0||3.9|
|after 1 period||1-0|
|After 2 periods||1-0|
|Score, last 10 games||23-21||30-35|
|Score, last 20 games||71-50||60-65|
|Total WHL games||1673||1633|
The league’s power play numbers are out of whack, apparently due to the Tri-City-Prince George game. Early season issues…
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