Few Western Hockey League players have seen their fortunes shift as dramatically as Corbin Boes.
Boes stopped all 30 Spokane Chiefs shots Friday night as the Portland Winterhawks moved within one win of tying a coveted WHL record with a 2-0 victory before 10,023 fans at the Arena.
The Winterhawks (47-12-2-3, 99 points) notched their 21st consecutive victory and can tie the league record set by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins with a win tonight at Seattle.
Boes is 12-0-0-1 in goal since a January trade from the league’s doormat, Lethbridge. He’s also getting more time in goal because the Winterhawks’ No. 1 guy, Brendan Burke, is recovering from mononucleosis.
“Going from a team that hadn’t hit 10 wins yet to a team that’s won 21 in a row is pretty surreal, but every night the guys come out and put in a good effort and we try not to think about the streak too much,” Boes said.
Boes was aware of another streak – Portland’s 8-0 series win over the Chiefs this season – but he didn’t know that the Winterhawks own 16 consecutive wins over Spokane, counting postseason.
“Sixteen in a row? I wasn’t aware of that, but eventually the streak’s gotta end,” he said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t tonight.”
Portland outscored the Chiefs 38-15 in the eight games, including shutouts in the last three.
But the Chiefs (36-22-3-3, 78 points) were the aggressive team in the first period, outshooting Portland 14-7 and forcing Boes to deflect or glove a handful of close-in shots.
“I don’t think we had quality chances where the goalie had to make big saves, but we had opportunities,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “Whether it’s gripping the sticks too tight or whether it was misfiring, we had the opportunity.”
Portland scored 1 minute, 40 seconds into the game when Keegan Iverson forced a turnover off a faceoff and Alex Schoenborn beat Eric Williams for his 17th goal of the season.
“You don’t want to start the game like that,” Nachbaur said. “That put us a little bit on our heels, but I thought our guys recovered and played after that. But you can’t give away easy goals and that for me was an easy goal.”
The other Winterhawks goal came 1:52 into the second period, after a poor Spokane pass. Chase De Leo, alone on the right side, flipped the puck over Williams’ blocker for his 35th goal, second on the team to Oliver Bjorkstrand.
Both teams finished 0 for 3 on the power play as half of the penalties came in the final period. The Chiefs pulled Williams with 1:20 to go, but Boes sealed the shutout.
“I’m not happy we lost, but there are a lot of good positives we can take out of that game,” Nachbaur said. “I thought we gave them a tough game tonight and if that’s the best team in the league, we’re close.”