Road trip from hell

by Steve, November 20th, 2006

hockeyThe Winter Hawks are (not surprisingly) struggling through their eastern swing to Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Things got started with a 7-0 thumping in Regina, Saskatchewan, by the middle-of-pack, third-place Patriots. Sure, the Hawks were just coming off a 24 hour bus trip after a home loss to arch-rival Seattle. The Western Conference in general and the US Division in particular are weak this year (with the exceptions of Everett and Vancouver), and Portland is bottom of the pack. One Regina fan commented on the Network54 WHL forum that Portland was the worst team they’d seen through Regina in a long time. Big, dumb, slow and soft were words used to describe the Hawks. (I’ve long complained that the Hawks seem to really go for size over speed and skill, and I’m evidently not the only one to have noticed. It’s really hurting us now with the new zero-tolerance standards in the WHL.)

Next, the Hawks squeaked out a 4-3 win over East Division cellar dwellers Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan). Then came another thumpin’ (6-2) from first-place Brandon (Manitoba), and then a 3-0 shutout from a Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), a team with a similar record to Portland. The prairie has not been good to our left coast boys. (Seriously though, a lot of these guys are from the prairie, and the annual eastern swing gives their families a rare chance to see them play.)

The Hawks wrap up the trip with back-to-back games against second-place Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) and fifth-place Swift Current (Saskatchewan). Here’s hoping they pull off at least one win (Swift Current is doable) before the long bus ride back to P-town, where the boys face the the juggernaut of reigning WHL champs Vancouver this Saturday night.