Portland Winterhawks at Kamloops Blazers: Preview, updates, chat, how to listen and watch the stream

What: The Portland Winterhawks take on the Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League.

When: Friday, September 23, 7 p.m.

Where: Sandman Center, Kamloops, British Columbia.

Watch: You can stream the game via the CHL TV pay-per-view ($6.10 for one game).

Listen: Winterhawks and Blazers audio.

Consequences:

  • The box score.
  • Get updates and chat before, during and after the game.

The Portland Winterhawks kick off their 47th season with a weekend trip to British Columbia. Preseason predictions put them well behind Seattle and Kamloops, but the rest of the conference sucks. Portland played all of preseason with six of its best players gearing up for pro camps. Two of them are back and they are important: Gabe Klassen, their second-best returnee, and Jan Špunar, their Euro import goalie. They’re still not in their top formation, but they’ve been hit less hard than the competition.

Forward
20 11-Robbie Fromm-Delorme (193 games)
19 92-Jack O’Brien (140)
13-James Stephen (134)
16-gift classes (128)
9-Aidan Like (79)
21-Jonah Bevington (64)
67-Dawson Pasternak (34)
18 19-Kyle Chyzowski (99)
72-Marcus Nguyen (95)
77-Luke Shelter (78)
39-Reid MacKay (22)
17 28-Josh Zakreski (16)
93-Nicholas Johnson (2)
20-Aiden Sotas (0)
16 90-Diego Buttazzoni (0)

Away at Buffalo camp, 20-year-old Tyson Kozak isn’t even listed in the squad, which could be a sign he’ll be playing for Rochester instead of Portland this season.

Stefan, a pointman during the regular season but with just 6 points in 11 games in the playoffs, is away in the Kings’ camp.

A pretty good candidate for a breakout year, Kyle Chyzowski is playing in his 100th game.

Will Jack O’Brien make the leap to 2nd line center?

defender
20 47-Kurtis Smythe (126)
19 6-Ryan McCleary (92)
18 73-Luca Cagnoni (84)
43-Ryder Thompson (83)
26-Marek Alscher (72)
2-Josh Mori (45)
27-Nicholas Andrusiak (0)
17 14-Rhett Ravndahl (0)
59-Carter Sotheran (0)
16 91-Alex Thompson (0)

The pro camps injured Portland on defense while Alscher and McCleary were away. Kurtis Smythe might have been the odd man out among the 20-year-olds if Kozak came back, but for now they can use him to keep the crew stable. On paper it should be a pretty good unit.

They currently have 10 on the list, with players missing. Teams usually keep either 7 or 8, so when Alscher and McCleary come back they have to give up at least two.

goalkeeper
20 74-Dante Giannuzzi (68)
18 Jan 31 Špunar (0)
17 37-Danavan Bodnar (0)

Goalkeeper is the biggest question mark. Špunar, one would think, would get the first chance at the top job. That’s probably why they brought him in. Giannuzzi started last season as number one but didn’t have a good year. Right now, the Winterhawks are giving up either a 20-year berth or a Euro spot for a backup goalie, and if you’re trying to catch Seattle or Kamloops, that’s not the most efficient way to do it.

With Portland not keen on carrying three goalies, it’s notable that Bodnar is still on the list. It may be that they just didn’t know when Špunar would come back.

The Kamloops Blazers will likely miss six players traveling to pro camps. The big ticket is 104-point forward Logan Stankoven, who they relied on last season to the extent that he had 44 points more than their nearest teammate. He added 31 in the playoffs but only 3 in the last 4 games against Seattle as the Thunderbirds won 3 of 4 and won the Western Conference Finals. But he’s not the only one missing. Of the players expected to play on Friday, Connor Levis is the leading returning scorer with just 42 points. So the Winterhawks, despite being shorthanded themselves, are taking a little break.

The Blazers were given a bye to the junior hockey Final Four in a WHL boardroom no matter how they play this season, an idea so brilliant it makes you wonder why they aren’t at the March Madness or the Super Bowl has been tried. You basically have about 80 exhibition games to prepare. If it doesn’t look like things are going well, they’ll mortgage their future so they don’t get embarrassed in May. With a makeshift roster and the prospect of many trades, there are a few players who qualify for the Blazers who won’t be around until Memorial Cup time.

Forward
20 32-Pull Englot (163)
22-Daylan Küfler (147)
34-Ethan Rowland (125)
19 19-Caedan Banker (162)
11-Logan Stankoven (155)
13-Matthew Seminoff (151)
23-Dylan Sydor (95)
33-Ashton Ferster (76)
29-Kobe Verbicky (75)
18 15-Connor Levis (107)
16 Fraser Mint (104)
17-Nathan MacPherson-Ridgewell (27)
17 9-Emmitt Finnie (49)
14-Luke Korte (4)
16 25 Ashton Tait (1)
10-Conner Radke (0)

I didn’t realize how much they depended on Stankoven. It would really cause problems for the Blazers if he made the Stars team, although he needs to be cheered on.

Kuefler, Bankier, Seminoff and Minten are in pro camps. There’s a lot of insult missing.

defender
20 24-Ethan Brandwood (146)
19 21-Kyle Master (119)
2-Logan Bairos (102)
6-Aapo Sarell (0)
17 7-Kaden Hammell (81)
12-Ryan Michael (7)
3-Rylan Pearce (0)
16 18-Harrison Brunicke (2)

Masters is the last missing Blazer.

Sarell is one of their imports, a 6-2 Finn. Kind of rare for a dollar, a 19-year-old who wasn’t drafted by the NHL and hasn’t played a WHL game yet.

goalkeeper
18 35-Dylan Ernest (29)
30-Michael Schnattinger (0)
16 1-Jesse Sanche (0)

Ernst was the backup last season, playing 24 games with a .900 save percentage. He is challenged by their other Euro, Schnattinger. They’re wondering if they’ll need an upgrade here by Memorial Cup time.

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