After a rough 2008, the Portland Winter Hawks can thank Kurtis Mucha for getting 2009 started on the right foot.
Mucha led the way with 38 saves as Portland recorded its first shutout of the season, blanking the Everett Silvertips 4-0 on Friday night in the Western Hockey League.
The win gives the Winter Hawks two in a row, only their second winning streak of the season. They won three straight games from Nov. 9-15 before losing their next seven.
That's the kind of season it's been for Portland (11-25-1-0). The Winter Hawks sit last in the Western Conference with a league-worst 23 points and 84 goals for.
Everett (17-15-5-0) shut Portland out twice in previous meetings this season, but on Friday, it was the Winter Hawks' turn to return the favour. After a scoreless first period that saw the Silvertips outshoot Portland 17-12, Cameron Abney received a major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct, giving the Winter Hawks a five-minute power play.
Taylor Peters and Chris Francis capitalized on the long man-advantage situation and Peters added his second of the game later in the period. Francis assisted on Luke Walker's third-period marker, while Brett Ponich and Killian Hutt had two assists each.
Elsewhere in the WHL, it was: Edmonton 4, Kootenay 1; Kelowna 3, Spokane 0; Medicine Hat 5, Swift Current 3; Moose Jaw 8, Kamloops 4; Prince Albert 8, Lethbridge 2; Tri-City 5, Prince George 2; and Vancouver 2, Red Deer 1 (OT).
At Portland, Ore., Shayne Barrie stopped 34 shots for Everett, and also stopped a penalty shot by Riley Boychuk late in the second after Taylor Ellington was called for tripping.
Oil Kings 4, Ice 1
At Edmonton, Jeff Lee scored the eventual game-winner and added an assist as the Oil Kings slipped past Kootenay.
Henrik Tervonen, Brenden Dowd and Craig McCallum also scored for Edmonton (17-20-2-4).
Matt Fraser scored the lone goal for the Ice (19-16-2-4).
Rockets 3, Chiefs 0
At Kelowna, B.C., Kris Lazaruk made 21 saves as the Rockets blanked Spokane.
Lucas Bloodoff, with two goals, and Brandon McMillan scored for Kelowna (23-15-0-0), which led 1-0 and 2-0 at the breaks and won for the fourth time in five games.
Spokane (22-13-0-30) suffered its second straight loss while also getting shut out for the second time this season.
Tigers 5, Broncos 3
At Swift Current, Sask., Medicine Hat got a hat trick from Bretton Cameron and 34 saves from Ryan Holfeld as they bucked the Broncos.
The Tigers (22-12-3-3) also got goals from Taylor Gal and Tristan King. Wacey Hamilton and Colton Grant added three assists each.
Swift Current's Keegan Dansereau netted his 21st and 22nd goals of the season to tie for the team lead in goals. Cody Eakin also found the net for the Broncos (23-17-0-1).
Warriors 8, Blazers 4
At Kamloops, B.C., Travis Hamonic scored three goals to lead Moose Jaw over the Blazers.
Joel Broda scored twice, improving his WHL-leading total to 33, while Thomas Frazee, Ian Duval and Corey Scott also scored for the Warriors (13-25-0-1), who are 3-2-0-0 so far on their seven-game trip.
Shayne Wiebe, Dalibor Bortnak, Jimmy Bubnick and C.J. Stretch replied for Kamloops (16-20-1-4).
Raiders 8, Hurricanes 2
At Prince Albert, Sask., Justin Bernhardt had two goals and two assists and Dustin Cameron also scored twice as the Raiders pillaged Lethbridge.
Ryan McDonald, Nathan Deck and Brandon Herrod all scored and added an assist for Prince Albert (19-22-2-0), which outshot the Hurricanes 42-20. Bryce Lamb also scored, while Jordan Rowley chipped in three assists.
Drew Hoff had a goal and an assist, and Mitch Versteeg added a goal for Lethbridge (20-19-0-2).
Americans 5, Cougars 2
At Prince George, B.C., Johnny Lazo and Brock Zimak had a goal and an assist each as Tri-City built a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes and cruised to victory against the Cougars.
Mitch Fadden, Spencer Asuchak and Jordan Messier completed the scoring for the Americans (26-10-0-2).
Alex Poulter and veteran defenceman Colin Scherger, with his first goal in 79 WHL games, replied for Prince George (14-25-0-1).
Giants 2, Rebels 1 (OT)
At Vancouver, Mikhail Fisenko's overtime goal lifted the Giants over Red Deer for their 11th straight victory.
Craig Schira also scored for Vancouver (32-2-0-3).
Connor Redmond replied for the Rebels (15-20-0-6), who suffered their second consecutive loss.