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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Seattle at Portland Preview

I posted the relevant stats earlier this week, so I won't re-post them here but will provide what I think are the keys to the game tonight.

Seattle takes the long road to Portland tonight due to the I-5 closure and it was reported by TB that the team left for Portland yesterday to avoid any delays. The Winterhawks come into the game with a record of 5-23 but have played a little better of late having won 2 of their last 10 (can't believe I just wrote that last sentence). The last time Seattle faced Portland you needed to keep the roster nearby to keep track of all the new players that Portland traded for.

18 year old Travis Ehrhardt leads the Winterhawks with 20 points on 6 goals. Ehrhardt has 8 points on 3 goals in the 10 games he has played since coming over in a trade from Moose Jaw.

Kurtis Mucha is clearly the MVP of this squad having stopped 90.9% of the many shots he has faced for a record of 4-14 and a 3.72 GAA. Mucha has faced an unbelievable 38.33 shots per contest and has averaged 34.83 saves per game on those shots.

Keys to the Game:

1. Score early. Though Seattle was able to score early against the Americans on Tuesday and were not able to hold the lead, they would be in much better shape by scoring early and often on this struggling Portland team. The last thing you want to do is allow a team that is struggling to keep the score close and especially at home.

2. Shot selection. Mucha obviously faces a ton of shots and getting 30+ will be important to a Seattle win, but Mucha is a very solid goaltender and Seattle cannot get trapped into a sense of just putting shots on goal in order to win. Those shots need to come from dangerous locations on the ice (low slot and middle) in order to score more than once or twice on those 30+ shots.

3. Special Teams (as always). Portland is downright terrible on the Power Play... in fact they are the only team worse than Seattle with the man advantage. Portland ranks 20th in the WHL in killing penalties at home and Seattle must find a way to win the Special Teams battle in order to win.

Goals -
1. Lead after 1st and 2nd period
2. 30+ Shots
3. More PP goals than Portland

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