By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
Given how much the Portland Winterhawks have accomplished over the past four seasons, it’s hard to imagine Portland having any achievements left to attain.
But this weekend the Winterhawks once again notched themselves in the franchise record book.
Portland’s 7-4 victory Saturday at Vancouver was the team’s 16th straight victory. That surpassed the previous franchise record winning streak of 15, achieved twice previously.
“We didn’t talk about (the win streak) until (Friday) night,” Portland coach Mike Johnston told the Oregonian. “We didn’t until we tied it. But it is quite an accomplishment, especially when you consider the history of the team.
“We’re proud of it, that’s for sure.”
Portland reached the WHL finals each of the past three seasons, winning the title last season. This season the Winterhawks are well on their way to their fourth straight 100-point season.
But none of those previous three teams ran off a stretch like Portland’s current string. The last time the Winterhawks tasted defeat was on Jan. 10 in a 3-2 home loss to the Victoria Royals. The longest winning streak Portland had the previous three seasons was 14 games from Dec. 8-Jan. 12 last season.
There hasn’t been much drama during the streak, either. Portland has had just one shootout victory and one one-goal decision during the streak, and those came in the first two games. Overall Portland has outscored its opponents 96-35 during the streak. Seven different players have scored at least 20 points during the streak, led by Nicolas Petan’s 31.
The previous two times Portland won 15 straight came in 1979-80 and 1997-98. The 1997-98 team went on to claim the Memorial Cup, something Portland has yet to accomplish during it’s current years of dominance.
Could the winning streak indicate the one trophy that’s eluded Portland’s grasp the past three seasons is now imminent?
Around the WHL
Four teams in the Western Conference have clinched playoff spots, those being Kelowna, Portland, Victoria and Seattle. No teams have clinched a playoff berth yet in the Eastern Conference. … Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg became the first player to reach the 50-goal mark when he scored the first of two goals Sunday in a 5-3 victory over Everett. … Vancouver honored former player and current Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher by inducting him into the team’s Ring of Honour. Gallagher set the franchise record for goals (136) and points (280) from 2008-12. … Portland’s Taylor Leier was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 19-year-old forward had four goals and six assists as the Winterhawks went 4-0.
Points — Mitch Holmberg (Spokane), Nicolas Petan (Portland) 100; goals — Holmberg 51; assists — Petan 68; penalty minutes — Ryan Rehill (Kamloops) 158; wins — Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 35; goals against average — Coleman Vollrath (Victoria) 2.21; save percentage — Vollrath .932.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.