The Portland Winterhawks are a Western Hockey League team. This past weekend they played the first game of a long road trip where they will travel through the eastern division of the WHL. With a game as close as Brandon it seemed a great time to see the team on the road!
Passing through the border, passports in hand, were six folks from Crookston. “Reason for trip?” asked the border patrol. This was an easy to question to answer “Hawkey”. Two were parents of an emerging hockey star, Jon & Jo Bittner. Two were loving friends and past coach, Tim & Kari Moe. The last two were Winterhawks fans for the past decades, even fans when they were named the Buckeroos, Kevin & Shirley Iverson.
The Bittners last saw their son in August as he left for training, enrolled in a new school, and moved in with his billet family in Beaverton, Oregon. They waited in the lobby to catch a glimpse and a quick hug as Paul Bittner headed over with the team to the arena. After a great game, with the Winterhawks winning 2-1, all six people waited to see Paul as he came out of the locker room in his dark suit, tie, fresh from the shower room. More hugs, hawkey talk, a discussion on homework, school, and great conversation which lasted until the arena folks were shutting off the lights. A hug goodbye and the 15-year-old Winterhawk said, “See you in November” to mom & dad, then walked away to the tunnel and team bus, not looking back. It was time for the long drive to Moose Jaw, a motel bed and another Hawkey game on Sunday night.
The season-high six-game road trip through the East Division continued on Saturday as the Winterhawks lost a tough fought game 4-2 to Moose Jaw.
For those of you interested in following Paul Bittner and the Winterhawks there are many ways to catch all the details. All the games are broadcast live. Apps are available for smartphones or internet radio. Facebook and Twitter feature regular Winterhawk updates. Next up Regina Pats 10/9, Saskatoon Blades 10/10, Prince Albert Raiders 10/12, Swift Current Broncos 10/13, and then back home to the Memorial Coliseum in Portland to face the Seattle Thunderbirds 10/20.