Game Day Preview: Winterhawks @ Americans
Friday, December 28, 2012
Portland Winterhawks (29-5-1-0, 59 pts) at Tri-City Americans (20-12-1-2, 43 pts)
Toyota Center, 7:05 p.m.
Listen: NewsTalk 870
Watch: WHL Live
Portland: 4-3 Win at Spokane
Tri-City: 4-1 Win at Seattle
Portland: Nicolas Petan, 24G-36A–60PT; Brendan Leipsic 22G-34A–56PT; Ty Rattie 19G-28A–47PT
Tri-City: Justin Feser, 19G-22A–41PT; Malte Strömwall 12G-16A–28PT; Beau McCue 11G-8A–19PT
Portland enters the second half of the season with the best record in the Western Hockey League with 29 wins and 59 points and have five more points than the second best team in the league Kamloops Blazers. They have dominated the league in almost every facet of the game, scoring 16 more goals than the second place Kelowna Rockets and allowing 10 fewer goals than the second place Edmonton Oil Kings. The Winterhawks are seventh in the league on the power play and second in the league in penalty killing. Tri-City enters the second half of the season in third place in the U.S. Division and fifth place in the Western Conference. Tri-City had 20 wins for the fifth time in six seasons with the win over Seattle heading into the break. Tri-City doesn’t have the numbers of last season but is still playing solid hockey. At home, the Americans are third in the league on the power play but they are last in the league on the penalty kill. They are fifth in the league in goals allowed and are one of six teams to allow less than 100 goals in the first half of the season.
Players to Watch
C Nicolas Petan: Leading the team in points, he has a point in every game in December and has eight goals and assists this month along with a +12 rating.
RW Taylor Leier: The 18-year-old Philadelphia Flyers draft pick from last year’s entry draft has five goals and two assists this month.
D Drydn Dow: The 20-year-old defenseman has had a stellar December so far, having a positive +/- in every game this month and is second on the team at +12.
RW Beau McCue: The Montana native has come on strong in December, scoring six goals and two assists and a +6 rating.
Keys to the Game
Holiday Hangover: This is both teams first game after the holiday break, where the players went home for a week to relax and take their mind off hockey. But the break is over and the players have to get back into the swing of things as the second half of the season starts for teams to make their playoff pushes. Will either team come out slow, sloppy or rusty after having a stress free break away from the game?
Players Missing: The WInterhawks are missing four key players due to international tournaments. Oliver Bjorkstrand is playing in the WJHC for Denmark; Seth Jones is helping the United States at the WJHC while Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon are trying to earn the gold for team Canada. Bjorkstrand, Jones and Rattie are three of the top seven scorers on the team, leaving a big hole for Nicolas Petan, Brendan Leipsic and Derrick Pouliot to fill the void and step up in their absence.
Portland: Dec. 29 vs. Tri-City
Tri-City: Dec. 29 at Portland
Game Day Promotion
The Americans return from the Winter Break in time to welcome the Portland Winterhawks at the Toyota Center on Wildhorse Resort and Casino Night, presented by URock Radio, KEPR-TV and the Tri-City Herald. The first 1,000 fans will receive the second Americans Alumni Magnet, this time featuring Adam Hughesman, courtesy of Wildhorse Resort and Casino. It’s another Tri-City Herald Family Friday, presented by KEPR-TV, so be sure to clip the coupon in the Herald or online at Tri-City Herald Dot Com to save big at the Toyota Center box office. On-ice entertainment will include another round of the Wildhorse Resort and Casino Wild Horse Race, followed by the Coors Light Super Cold Slap Shot Contest.