Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

From the Dub: Away We Go

Tomorrow is the start of autumn, which also means it's time to bid farewell to the off-season. Summer was a long, strange trip for me this year, but I'm back at full strength. So is the WHL and there's no shortage of news in the headlines. On the alumni front, Ty Rattie is finally getting the chance to show the NHL what local Portland fans already knew. This year, I'll be watching the lesser known names who are either new to the league or coming on strong in the latter half of their junior careers. That includes Everett Silvertips captain Connor Dewar and Seattle Thunderbirds captain Nolan Volcan. The WHL regular season opens tonight with eight games. At long last, we're officially off to the races. 

Don't we know you? One of the biggest off-season headlines was a move that brought legendary Kamloops Blazers coach Don Hay to Portland, where he will serve as an assistant coach for the Winterhawks. He and Mike Johnston go way back and even in the pre-season, the chemistry was obvious. I'm not gonna lie, it's a little weird seeing him on my local team's bench. That being said, I'm glad that Hay chose to come here. The positive energy he brings to the table was obvious in the Everett pre-season tournament. Whatever happens this season, one thing is for sure; Don Hay will improve everyone's game. 

Hail to the Chiefs: All I have to say about the Spokane Chiefs is if you're not taking them seriously, you should be. They have a deep roster that includes one Carter Chorney. Very crafty, that one. He reminds me a little of Ryan Johansen or Sven Baertschi. 

All-American Boys: I have to admit that I didn't pay too much attention last year to Tri-City Americans forward Isaac Johnson. You can bet I'll be watching him this year. It's too bad he and Carter Chorney don't play on the same team. Johnson is just as crafty and equally hard working. The Americans have a whole new look this year, including their new head coach Kelly Buchberger. Top players like Morgan Geekie and Jordan Topping are gone and Michael Rasmussen's return from the Detroit Red Wings is currently a question mark. The team is betting on veteran players to step up. One of the brightest rising stars on the Ams' roster is second-year forward Sasha Mutala. He helped Team Canada win a gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup over the summer. Even before that, he was already on the rise and great things are expected of him this year. 

Hurricane warning: The Lethbridge Hurricanes were ranked third in the CHL pre-season rankings. If you want to know how their season is going to go, look at their solid pre-season record of 3-2-0-0. Penguins fans will recognize names like Hurricanes captain Jordy Bellerive and defenseman Calen Addison. Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy Winner Dylan Cozens and goalie Akira Schmid are also part of the storm front coming our way this season. And I truly mean that in the best way possible. 

Tip of the Hat: Connor Dewar will serve as the Everett Silvertips captain for 2018 -2019. Dewar is one of the hardest working players in this league and the honor of captain is well deserved. Dewar was Everett's leading goal scorer in the 2018 playoffs, with 12 total. That followed a regular season in which he compiled 68 points (38G, 30A). He's always been a natural leader, even as a rookie. It's only natural that he was named captain.  

Secret weapon: There was another headline involving the Kamloops Blazers this summer. His name is Matt Bardsley, the team's new General Manager. He was the longtime secret weapon of the Portland Winterhawks' perennial talent pool. Look for him to work similar magic in Kamloops. It was only a matter of time before he left Portland and I wish him well. Matt isn't just a great GM. He's a special person and our loss is the Blazers gain. 

New kids in town: The current question marks for the Portland Winterhawks are Cody Glass, Henri Jokiharju and Joachim Blichfeld. Joachim's reassignment to Portland in particular was a surprise. It was assumed he would stay with the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. It has set off quite a bit of chatter over what the team will do with their signed imports, which is TBD. Stay tuned on these three players. This all got me to thinking about how dependent teams are on top players. Whatever happens with these players, there is plenty of talent to go around Portland this year. Make note of these rookies now: Seth Jarvis, Dante Giannuzzi, Robbie Fromm-Delorme, Jaydon Dureau and Cross Hanas. You'll thank me later. 

Away we go:  One last thing before I go. After an NHL career that seemed like it might go nowhere, it appears Ty Rattie may have finally found his groove. Oilers fans, I have two words for you: Rat Trick. It's Portland's nickname for when he scores hat tricks. Something tells me you're going to need it. 

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Comments

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

Cool, I’m new to Portland, and this whole living-in-a-city-with-no-NHL-team thing, so I’ll probably go to plenty of Winterhawks games! Hoping to go to the home opener at Moda next weekend, even.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 09/21/18 at 08:41 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Thanks Samantha for your local deep digging - it’ll be a fun new season over here I’m sure.  Too bad we’ve probably seen the last of Cholowski over here if he keeps up his play.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 09/22/18 at 01:21 AM ET

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com