Winterhawks Weekly: Hawks secure first win of the season
The Portland Winterhawks hit the ice for regular season hockey last weekend, taking on the Wenatchee Wild in their first game since moving from Winnipeg before heading north to Kelowna to battle the Rockets. The Hawks picked up win #1 with a 6-5 OT thriller in Kelowna after a narrow defeat in Wenatchee the night before.
Three Winterhawks skated in their first WHL action as Cohen Massey, Kayd Ruedig and Luke Brunen debuted in Wenatchee on Friday. That game also saw trade acquisitions Tyson Yaremko and Justen Maric sport a Winterhawks sweater for the first time after joining the team from Swift Current and Moose Jaw, respectively.
Portland’s back in action on the road this week against the Seattle Thunderbirds at 6:05 P.M. on Saturday night.
- Forward Gabe Klassen once again started the season on a heater, racking up a team-high six points (2G, 4A) which is good for a share of second in the league through one week of play.
- Forward Marcus Nguyen picked up goals in both games last week, including the overtime winner on Saturday as Portland knocked off Kelowna. The 19-year-old speedster has posted back-to-back 20-goal seasons and has started well to match – or exceed – that pace in 2023-24.
- Forward James Stefan recorded two goals and two assists over the weekend, with both goals coming shorthanded. The Laguna Beach, Calif. native ranked fourth in team scoring with 22 goals and third with 64 points last season.
- Forward Nick Johnson posted his first-career multi-goal game on Saturday, including the game-tying tally late in the third period to help the Hawks force overtime. The Calgary, Alta. native has three points through two games to start the season.
- Defenseman Ryder Thompson missed the season-opener in Wenatchee but quickly made an impact in Kelowna with two assists in Portland’s 6-5 OT win. The 19-year-old defenseman hit 40 points in his WHL career with his multi-point showing on Saturday.
- Goaltender Luke Brunen earned his first win with 25 saves on Saturday, and sealed the deal with the primary assist on Nguyen’s game-winner in overtime. Portland’s second-round pick in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft has made 31 of 36 saves in two regular-season appearances to start his career.
Play of the Week:
How’s this for a first WHL point – by a goalie, no less! Luke Brunen, making his first WHL start, stopped 25 shots for the win in Kelowna on Saturday. But it was his assist in overtime that stole the show, racing out of the net to erase a Rockets breakaway, then quickly turning the puck up ice with a bounce pass to Marcus Nguyen who made no mistake at the other end. Take a peek! ⤵️
Saturday spectacular ✨
Brunen ➡️ Nguyen for the first W of the year! pic.twitter.com/ys1J3gH2Wz
— Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks) September 24, 2023
Portland 5 at Wenatchee 6 (Friday):
The Winterhawks roared out of the gates, but a steady Wild attack potted three unanswered goals in the final 30 minutes to take a 6-5 victory at Town Toyota Center on Friday.
Portland 6 at Kelowna 5 OT (Saturday):
Marcus Nguyen scored a breakaway beauty 1:42 into overtime on a pass from rookie goaltender Luke Brunen to push the Winterhawks to a 6-5 victory over the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on Saturday.
The Week Ahead:
One more week on the road before the home opener on October 6!
We’re making the drive just up I-5 for the first Battle with Seattle of the new season on Saturday night. Puck drop against the Thunderbirds is set for 6:05 P.M. from Kent, Wash. Tune in on WHL Live!
Upcoming Promo Nights:
Friday, October 6 – Home Opener – BUY TICKETS
Saturday, October 7 – Hawkey For All Night – BUY TICKETS
Friday, October 13 – Keep Portland Fear’d Night – BUY TICKETS
Sunday, October 15 – Hawktoberfest – BUY TICKETS
The Winterhawks trust Riverside Payments for all of their credit card processing as the team’s official credit card processors.