KAMLOOPS — Led by Joachim Blichfeld and Cody Glass the Portland Winterhawks offence continues to explode -- the latest an 8-2 win last night over the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Since starting the season with a pair of regulation time losses, the Portland Winterhawks have a shootout loss and five wins in a row ---- next to the Victoria Royals 6-and-0 start, the hottest team in the league.
Former Blazers head coach Don Hay is relishing his new role with the Winterhawks.
With the hiring of Don Hay just before training camp, Portland has the most experienced coaching staff in the league ---- with head coach Mike Johnstone, associate coach Kyle Gustafson and Hay as assistant coach.
"I feel like I'm learning everday." says Hay. "It's a different role, but I really enjoy it. Everyday I get up, it's a
challenge --- first of all I have to find my way around the city (Portland). New players ---- they have to get to know me, and I have to get to know them. Mike and Kyle Gustafson have been great to me ---- the whole organization has been great."
When Portland came to Kamloops for two games last week this was the third time in the career of the winningest head coach in Western Hockey League history, that the two time Blazers head coach has returned to his hometown with a different team. First Tri-Cities, then Vancouver and now Portland.
"I was a little bit nervous." says Hay. "I did'nt know how the fans would react. It's so fresh in everybody's minds. Kamloops is home, and it holds a special place. My family and friends are all here --- a lot of great memories."
A little strange returning for Hay ---- and also for the veteran players on the Blazers bench last week, who had played most of their careers with Hay as their head coach.
"It was kind of wierd." says Blazers captain Jermaine Loewen, now in his fifth season with the Blazers. "Looking over at the bench and seeing Don on the other side. He's been on the Blazers for the years that I've been here. We kind of winked at each other a few times --- we talked a little bit before the game. I'm happy for him that he gets an opportunity there."
Hay doesn't know how long the opportunity in Portland will last ---- right now it's just one year at a time. But he's relishing this different role.
"Getting to know the players in a different situation." says Hay. "You're not the guy that's demanding --- you're making suggestions in helping them out, and patting them on the back a lot more. I've really enjoyed that different aspect of coaching."
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