WHL notes: Portland closes in on big record
Few people may remember the Estevan Bruins, but their name is likely to come up during the next week.
The Portland Winterhawks have won 20 consecutive Western Hockey League games to close within two wins of the 1967-68 Bruins’ record for consecutive wins within a season.
Estevan (Saskatchewan), a founding member of the WHL, moved to New Westminster, British Columbia, in 1971. The franchise is now the Kamloops Blazers.
Portland will attempt to continue another long streak when it returns to the ice Friday in Spokane. The Winterhawks are 7-0 against the Chiefs this season and have won the last 15 matchups between the teams.
Portland could tie the record Saturday at Seattle and break it next Wednesday at Tri-City.
Everett nearly ended Portland’s streak at 19 on Sunday. Portland held on for a 2-1 win when Manraj Hayer’s final attempt in a shootout was ruled after video review to have just missed crossing the line. Goalie Corbin Boes improved to 11-0-0-1 since joining Portland in a trade with Lethbridge in January.
“It’s not an ideal way to put a 19-game win streak on the line,” Boes told Molly Blue of the Oregonian.
Rising in the East
Regina has won 10 of 12 games to take an eight-point lead in the East Division with nine games to play.
The division champion will be seeded No. 2 in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs.
Regina cooled off two of the league’s hottest teams last weekend by edging Victoria 3-2 and Calgary 5-4 in a shootout. Victoria had won nine consecutive road games and hadn’t suffered a regulation loss in 15 games. Calgary’s nine-game winning streak ended on Colby Williams’ shootout goal in the ninth round.
“I usually have one move,” Williams told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “(Now) I’ll have to think of a new one.”
“There’s a belief among the players that we can win every night,” coach Malcolm Cameron said after the weekend wins left Regina 19-8-2-2 at home. “It’s contagious.”
Regina’s Morgan Klimchuk had six goals and three assists during four games last week to earn the WHL’s Player of the Week nod.
The Brandon Wheat Kings, who led the division two weeks ago, have lost nine of 11.
Around the league
Red Deer’s Lukas Sutter, bothered by a shoulder injury for most of the season, played his final WHL game Feb. 17 at Calgary. Rebels general manager/head coach Brent Sutter, Lukas’ uncle, made the decision. Lukas, 20, was a second-round pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012 NHL entry draft but hasn’t signed a contract. … Everett’s No. 2 goalie, Daniel Cotton, remains on indefinite suspension along with winger Darcy DeRoose for violating team rules. … The Vancouver Giants are the league’s most improved team from last season. Vancouver, which finished last season with 44 points, already has 70 points with eight games remaining. … Kamloops goalie Patrik Bartosak broke a 14-year-old club record last week by picking up his 1,728th career save. Shane Bendera held the record.