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  • 17 Apr 2014

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Winterhawks notes

LANE VIVERIOSNext: Portland has a home-and-away weekend with the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Hawks will be at ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and then play host to the T-Birds at Memorial Coliseum at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Four more games remain on the schedule for December, including Tuesday's 7 p.m. Memorial Coliseum match-up with top U.S. Division foe Everett.

It's adjustment time for the Winterhawks, who are losing five players to national junior hockey duties.

Forwards Nic Petan and Taylor Leier and defenseman Derrick Pouliot are headed to Canada's selection camp in Toronto. They are expected to be gone for the world junior tournament in Sweden Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 as well.

Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand (Denmark) and defenseman Layne Viveiros (Austria) will play, starting Sunday, in Division I-Group A at the world junior in Poland. Both are expected back during the Christmas break.

"Petan, Leier and Bjorkstrand are three big-time forwards for us,"Portland coach/general manager Mike Johnston says, "so we've got a lot of work to do with new lines and the power play and penalty kill units."

Johnston says this is a time for other roster players to step up and fill the gaps, and the Hawks have brought in three young reinforcements: D-man Justin Greer and forwards Skyler McKenzie and Colton Veloso.

 Portland also has acquired the rights to NHL Minnesota D-man Mathew Dunba, 19, 6-0, 180, who could help them both reduce their goals and shots allowed and give their defensive corps some of the offensive component it has lacked since losing Troy Rutkowski, Seth Jones and Ty Wotherspoon.

 At least the weary Winterhawks have had a few days to recharge after a tough weekend on the road.

Portland played at Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary last Friday-to-Sunday. The Hawks took Edmonton to a shootout in a rematch of the Western Hockey League finalists of 2012 and 2013. Portland then beat Red Deer 5-4, before falling 4-1 to coach Mike Williamson's Hitmen.

"They were all different games," Johnston says. "We came back twice from two goals down against Edmonton, which has another good team. We were good at Red Deer. In Calgary, we ran out of energy. We just didn t have the jump we usually do."

 One of the highlights of the trip was the start of the Red Deer game. Chase De Leo scored in nine seconds, with Bjorkstrand getting the assist.

"The puck went from the faceoff to behind the net, and we got it out front quickly," Johnston says.