Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

From the Dub: Welcome to Portland

This weekend provided a good look at the WHL Trade Deadline in action. If the final scoresheets are any indication, most of the big blockbuster trades will pay dividends. That includes Portland, where Dennis Cholowski has already played in three games with four more on deck this week. It's early yet, but from what I can see here in Portland, the epic deal the team made to acquire Dennis will pay off. 

Reality check: I met Dennis Cholowski on Sunday night. FYI Detroit, he's smart, well-spoken and already fits right in with his teammates. He's also a really sweet playmaker. Exhibit A: He earned the third star of the night on Sunday for his assist on a game-tying goal from Kieffer Bellows. That was in addition to his assist on the team's fifth goal in a 5-4 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday. It's hard to pass judgment on whether a trade pick was worth it after only three games, but it's looking good so far. And yes, the Detroit Red Wings did influence the trade: they wanted him to go to a team that is a playoff contender. The Winterhawks have been considered a contender for more than just playoffs all season long. Now that they are back at full strength, they look more like a team that could deliver on that promise.

Think outside the box: The second assist on that fifth goal came from back-up goaltender Shane Farkas, who kind of looks like he could be the brother of Everett's back-up goaltender Dustin Wolf. Speaking of the Silvertips:

Save the best for last: I fact-checked the Carter Hart last-off-the-ice superstition and I can now confirm that he does indeed insist on that after every game.

So close and yet so far: In a smaller trade, the Portland Winterhawks also acquired forward Lukus MacKenzie from the Red Deer Rebels. On Friday night, he scored his first goal in his first game with the Winterhawks, and he got into a fight. But the Gordie How hat trick was not to be, despite his noble efforts to make plays all over the place. This acquisition has been questioned by local fans, but I think they are warming up to him. Off the ice, Lukus is a really nice kid who seems like nothing much rattles him at all. I think Lukus may turn out to be the pleasant surprise of the trade deadline. 

Don't we know you?: While Portland was keeping an eye on Detroit's long-term future, the Red Wings called up a player we know and love: former Winterhawk captain Dominic Turgeon. He won a Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins last year and has been working his way up the ranks this season. Click here for an archival profile of Dominic when he played in Portland. 

Keep the enemy closer: This weekend also provided a chance to see whether the competition's trades paid off. So far, the answer is yes. The Regina Pats won both their weekend games with new goalie Ryan Kubic in net. Swift Current's new goalie Stuart Skinner recorded his fifth shutout of the year and won both games with his new team. Giorgio Estephan had a goal in the Broncos 9-1 win over Edmonton on Saturday. Kale Clague contributed an assist in each of the three games he played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, and he was a plus-4. Closer to home, new Everett Silvertip Garrett Pilon put the U.S. Division on notice with a hat trick during a huge division showdown with Spokane on Saturday night. 

And. They're. Back: In case you were wondering "where are the Winterhawks and what did you do with them?" I can assure you they are back at full strength. They earned five out of a possible six points this weekend with two wins and one shootout loss. The Winterhawks are now in second place in the U.S. Division, two points behind Everett, but they have three games in hand on the Silvertips.  Win or lose, the team is playing more like they normally do; in an up-tempo, offensively minded style where even goalies contribute to the goals. If you were worried about them over the holidays, I'd let that go. Now that World Junior players are back and trade acquisitions are up and running, they are truly at full strength. With four games on tap this week, it's full steam ahead for the Portland Winterhawks. 

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ilovehomers's avatar

I remember quite well how fond the Winterhawks were of Turgeon. I think that was mostly because of your posts!

Thank you for reporting back about Cholo. The Wings do indeed value the playoff experience at any level. Hoping he can make some people eat crow for writing him off before he even got to put on a jersey.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/17/18 at 01:56 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

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