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All 24: Commitment and Culture

May 17, 2021 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Portland Winterhawks News Release

The Winterhawks were the only U.S. Division team to play all 24 of its scheduled games this season. The accomplishment didn't happen by chance. - PORTLAND, Ore. - Tuesday night the Winterhawks put a bow on their 45th season in franchise history, perhaps the most unique to date.

In a season once filled with uncertainty and obvious stress for many parties, the Portland cohort persevered, buying into the necessary culture required to reach the finish line.

For many players, getting to Oregon itself was a challenge. The Winterhawks completed multiple quarantine processes to ensure the health and safety of their players and staff, abided by the government-issued guidelines, and ensured that all Western Hockey League protocols were adhered to make the 2020-21 season possible. Needless to say, a lot of work by many determined individuals went into even the attempt of playing games this year.

Now, task completed, the Western Hockey League standings reflect the Winterhawks as the lone U.S. Division team to play all 24 originally scheduled games.

Goaltender Dante Giannuzzi preparing for a start, remained masked up, per the requirements of the season."I'm very proud of our players and staff for committing to and abiding by the protocols put in place by the State of Oregon and the WHL," Winterhawks Vice President, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston said of the feat. "Our medical staff, led by Rich Campbell did an amazing job guiding our players, staff and billets through the process and ensuring everyone stayed safe. We accomplished a lot in the three months we were all together both on and off the ice."

The team's health and safety staff, led by Head Athletic Trainer and Strength & Conditioning Coach Rich Campbell, issued nearly 1,000 PCR tests for COVID-19 since late February, zero of which resulted in a positive test.

"We are very thankful to the WHL for the protocols that they had in place, as well as the guidance we received along the way to help us ensure that we had everything we needed," Campbell said of the journey. "We did have the benefit of being one of the last leagues to start play and we're appreciative for having that time to learn from others in regards to what was working and what was not. Having [Assistant Trainer] Trevor Hunt by our side was so important and I'm grateful for all of his help throughout the season as well. We would also like to extend a big thank you to Portland State Athletic Director Valerie Cleary for providing insight and guidance to help us get our season started."

Campbell, pictured, worked tirelessly throughout the season to ensure all was up to par for the club.While the players, staff, and fans all of course would have preferred to end the season with playoffs, a shot at a WHL Championship and possibly a Memorial Cup, it's still safe to say this season can be tabbed as a successful one, given the circumstances.

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