Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dominic Zwerger leads Everett charge in 4-1 win over Portland

Philadelphia Flyers' prospect and Everett Silvertips' goalie Carter Hart had a poor outing the last time he faced the Portland Winterhawks back on February third. He was yanked from the net after giving up three goals on just 11 shots. In his first game against Portland since, he was the key reason his team was able to hold onto a lead while facing 32 second and third period shots. he turned all of them away as he led Everett to a 4-1 win Friday night at Xfinity Arena. The win was Everett's sixth in a row and seventh over their last eight. It is fair to say that since those eight games were all played since the last meeting with Portland that 6-5 loss to the Winterhawks may have been a turning point in Hart and Everett's season. Dominic Zwerger was in on all four goals as he scored one and assisted on the other three. Patrick Bajkov also contributed three points, while Matt Fonteyne added two. Joachim Blichfeld scored the lone goal for the Winterhawks in the loss.

Everett's top line got things going just 1:17 into the game. Matt Fonteyne's entry dump-in deflected off Keoni Texeira right to Dominic Zwerger who fed it right back to Fonteyne rushing into the zone. Fonteyne found Bajkov and the 19-year-old sniper bet Cole Kehler blocker-side for his 24th goal of the year. Portland answered that goal with one of their own while there was just one second remaining on a power play. Caleb Jones's pass to Joachim Blichfeld at the Everett blue line split Silvertips' defenders Aaron Irving and Jake Christiansen and Blichfeld beat Hart low glove side. The goal was Blichfeld's 26th of the year. Zwerger then capitalized on a five-on-three power play with about two minutes left in the first. Bajkov and Riley Sutter had chances on Kehler in tight but they couldn't get it through. However, the puck slipped to Kehler's left and Zwerger was the first to it. He tied Bajkov for the team-lead in goals with 24.

Jake Christiansen gave Everett some insurance after Portland had heavy pressure on them. Zwerger fired a cross-ice pass that Christiansen hauled in and beat Kehler far side on. Kehler slid way too far over in anticipation and was not ready for the rather soft wrist shot. Carter Hart stopped all 17 shots he faced including a couple world-class saves while his team was killing off a lengthy five-on-three penalty kill.

Noah Juulsen netted the game's only third period goal as he poked home a deflection on a back door pass from Zwerger on the rush. Juulsen's return to the Everett lineup as helped inspire this recent run of hot play by the Silvertips. Portland would get plenty of opportunities but a combination of desperate Everett defense and stalwart goaltending by Hart kept them from getting any closer.

Carter Hart stopped 42 of 43 shots, while Cole Kehler turned away 28 of 32.

Game Notes:
-Blichfeld has 26 of his 54 points now since January 14th. He is third in the WHL along rookie goal-scorers.
-Cody Glass has 82 points now and is tied for seventh in the WHL in points with Tri-City's Morgan Geekie.
-Caleb Jones added an assist and now has 42 in 53 games. That is good for third among WHL d-men 
 -Portland's road power play converted on one of six chances but that is well below their now 30.1 percent season average.
-Everett is now 21-1-2-1 when leading after one period. There are not many teams out there that are as good as them at nursing a lead.
-Portland fans will be keeping an eye on both the Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Royals this weekend as the Hawks do not have another game until Wednesday in Vancouver. Spokane heads to Kennewick to take on Tri-City Saturday while Victoria hosts Vancouver. Then on Sunday the Royals host the Giants, while the Chiefs take on the visiting Kelowna Rockets. Portland trails Victoria by three points for the first wild card spot with the Royals having one game in hand. The Winterhawks lead the Chiefs by nine points with the latter squad having three games in hand. If the Chiefs cannot get all four points, it starts to get really difficult for them to overtake the Hawks for the west's last playoff spot.
-Matt Revel played his first game for Portland after being picked up off of waivers. He has been out with an injury since December 10th. He played between Ryan Hughes and Evan Weinger. Once those three get some chemistry going they could give Portland a very dynamic second-line. They had some flashes of brilliance in game-one together. Their best moment was in the first period when a long pass towards the net from Hughes was expertly deflected by Revel. Unfortunately the puck hit the post. It would have given Portland a 2-1 lead.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Topping's hat-trick leads Americans over Winterhawks 6-4

Jordan Topping was a big thorn in Portland's side last year. He scored six goals in the season series and always seemed to be the one raising his stick when Portland had just given up a pivotal goal to Tri-City. This year, though Topping had been noticeably absent form the scoresheet in the first two match ups he had been healthy for. That changed Wednesday night in Kennewick. Topping scored three of his team's first four goals for his second hat-trick of the season and his WHL career. He also added an assist for a four point night. The Winterhawks again were victimized by taking too many penalties as they fell behind 3-0 in the first behind two power play goals. The Hawks' opponents are 6/22 on the man advantage over the last four games. Tri-City has the third best power play in the WHL and it showed in the first period. Juuso Valimaki and Kyle Olson also provided two points apiece for the Americans. Evan Weinger scored twice and Caleb Jones had two assists in the loss for Portland.

Two of Portland's more defensively responsible players took penalties within the first 10 minutes of the game. Caleb Jones and Colton Veloso are also both key members of the team's top penalty killing unit. Tri-City cashed in on both opportunities. First, Morgan Geekie drove wide behind the net and dished off to Jordan Topping in the slot. Topping beat Portland starting goalie Cole Kehler 5:38 into the game. Then on the Colton Veloso penalty, Geekie's attempt at feeding Topping between the face off dots was intercepted by Caleb Jones but he was unable to clear. Topping corralled the puck and beat Kehler from just inside the blue line. The only goal scored in the first that was not on a power play was netted by Tri-City's all-time leading scorer among defensemen. Parker Wotherspoon caught the puck on the rush and put a quick move on Portland forward Bronson Sharp, freezing him. He then beat Kehler through the five-hole, ending his night. Kehler made eight saves on 11 shots. Rookie Shane Farkas came on in relief.

Portland came out of the first intermission on a tear and cut the Tri-City lead to one with goals 1:23 apart. On a power play of their own, Caleb Jones had his shot from the point expertly tipped home by Keegan Iverson in front of the net. Then on a three-on-two rush, Evan Weinger blew past Dakota Krebs on the right wing and beat Tri-City goalie Evan Sarthou on the short-side. Portland's comeback was made harder though as Tri-City got two goals of their own in quick succession; just 56 seconds apart. Jordan Topping secured the hat-trick and got the first puck past Farkas on the night by firing a long wrist shot in on the rush. Then, Tyler Sandu won a puck battle behind the net and tried to center a pass in front. The puck instead deflected in off of Farkas and it was a three-goal deficit once again at 5-2. Weinger would get some life back in the legs of the Portland comeback attempt by using his speed to jump on a loose puck off a face off that Krebs took a bad angle at. Weinger blew past Krebs again and got in alone on Sarthou, beating him with a backhand shot. Weinger's second goal came with just five seconds left in the second period.

Ryan Hughes got Portland back within one 3:08 into the third period. He forced a turnover in the Tri-City zone and then received a very nice backhand flip pass from Joachim Blichfeld before beating Sarthou. The goal was Hughes's 25th of the year. Portland would have plenty of chances to tie but were undone by a late insurance goal from Austyn Playfair off a battle in front of Farkas. The goal was Playfair's very first of the year.

Farkas and Kehler both did not play their best. Farkas came on in relief to stop 15 of 18. Sarthou faced far more rubber and turned away 41 of 45 to get wins in back-to-back starts. He has faced 39 or more shots in each of his last three games played.

Game Notes:
-Cole Kehler has struggled vs. Tri-City this year. He has been pulled in the first period twice and has not had a save percentage over .900 in any of his seven starts against the Americans.
-Keegan Iverson has now scored a goal in four of his last five games. He has a point in 10 of his last 11 games dating back to December 17th.
-Caleb Jones now has 41 assists and is fifth in the league among d-men. Wotherspoon is first with 47 but has played seven more games.
-Joachim Blichfeld had an assist and now has 53 points in 52 games. He is fourth among all rookie scorers. It is doubtful that he will catch Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi who is first 70 points.
-Portland's road power play continues to click. The Hawks went 1/3 and is now 30.8 percent on the season. This is just 0.5 percent behind the Regina Pats for best in the league.
-Tri-City meanwhile has the second best home power play in the WHL at 30.4 percent.
-Portland has won just three of the nine meetings with Tri-City so far. They have just one game left vs. Tri-City and it's on March 14th in Portland.
-This was an opportunity for Portland to close within three points of Tri-City for the third seed in the U.S. Division bracket. Instead they slip to seven points back with one game in hand. The Hawks have 11 games left. It looks like they will be locked into one of the two wild card spots at this point unless Tri-City goes on a lengthy losing streak.
-They sit just one point back of Victoria for the first wild card spot and the Royals have one game in hand. The Royals play three straight games over three days against Vancouver this weekend.
-Portland has just one more game this week and it is on Friday in Everett. The Silvertips have won six of their last seven games.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Portland lets Seattle squirm away with the two points: 5-4 in the shootout

Sometimes you have to take what the Hockey gods give you. On a very busy weekend, the Seattle Thunderbirds, who were already battling the injury bug in their forward group lost a key contributor before Sunday evening's tilt in Portland. Keegan Kolesar was not scratched but never showed up on the Seattle bench. Kolesar had his knee rolled up on in Saturday's 5-3 win over Portland in Kent and speculation is that he could be suffering from the after effects of that play. It should be noted that he did play the rest of the game for Seattle Saturday.Portland looked to be taking advantage of the depleted Thunderbirds, but a late two-goal surge in the third period powered by 21 shots on net, led Seattle to a 5-4 shootout win. Both Mathew Barzal converted in the shootout, while only Keegan Iverson was able to score for the Winterhawks. Jarret Tyszka led the way for Seattle with two assists, while Skyler McKenzie and Keoni Texeiora each had a goal and an assist.

You would not think the two teams were both playing their third game in three nights as the first period was of the energetic variety. Seattle and Portland traded plenty of body-checks in the opening session and a goal apiece as well. Tyler Adams scored on the power play to open the scoring and it will go down as one of the easiest goals he will ever score. Portland goalie Cole Kehler misjudged where the puck was behind the net, while trying to play it and looked down while getting a handle of it and passing it. The pass went right off a fore-checking Adams and down to his stick right in front of the vacant net. He chipped it in for his fourth of the year and his third as a Thunderbird. All three of those goals have come against Portland. Portland answered with a power play marker of their own as Henri Jokiharju looked to shoot and then snapped a hard pass right onto the tape of Evan Weinger diagonally, across the zone. Weinger went down to one knee to one-time the puck past Seattle goalie Matt Berlin.

The Thunderbirds retook their one-goal lead on a great individual effort from Danish forward Alexander True. On the half-boards in the Portland zone, he picked Joachim Blichfeld's pocket and then walked in on Kehler. True roofed a shot inside the near post on the Winterhawk goalie and it was 2-1 Seattle. Portland rebounded and tied the game up four minutes later. Caleb Jones was the goal-scorer and how he netted it will be replayed many times on the WHL's plays of the week. While on the penalty kill in his own zone, he scooped the puck up, completely undressed Ryan Gropp and got Berlin going the other way, before tucking the puck in on his backhand. The short-handed goal had a noticeable effect on Seattle and Portland took advantage. With 6:18 left in the second, Cody Glass made a strong defensive play in his own zone and chipped the puck up the boards and out of his zone. Skyler McKenzie skated onto the puck and went on a two-on-one with Glass. With the d-man going down to block the pass, McKenzie wired a shot far post past Berlin's right shoulder. The goal gave Portland their first lead of the game at 3-2.

Keoni Texeira staked Portland to a 4-2 lead against the flow of play 8:50 into the third period. Skyler McKenzie missed on a pass to Cody Glass driving the net and the puck ricocheted off the boards out to Keoni Texeira. The d-man powered a one-timer through Berlin's pads for his 11th goal of the year. Seattle kept the pressure on and finally got one past a stellar Cole Kehler with 8:27 left in the game.Mathew Barzal hit Donovan Neuls with a pass in stride at the Portland blue line and Neuls pushed the puck ahead one way past Henri Jokiharju, while going around him the other way. He corralled the puck and fired a shot past Kehler. Seattle then tied the game with Berlin pulled for an extra-attacker and only 46 seconds left. Tyszka's shot hit Kehler and bounced out to Sami Moilanen. The Finnish rookie batted at the puck and slipped it past Kehler.

Both squads had some great opportunities in the shootout, but could not beat either Matt Berlin or Cole Kehler. In the shootout, Mathew Barzal and Sami Moilanen used similar tactics to beat Kehler. They waited for the goalie to commit and then fired a shot past him. Keegan Iverson converted by just firing a quick shot that Berlin was not expecting. Skyler McKenzie had the chance to send the shootout to a fourth round but was turned away by Berlin.

Matt Berlin stopped 29 of 33 to get the win, while Cole Kehler turned away 45 of 49 shots.

Portland's power play went 1/2, while Seattle got six chances and converted on two of them.
Game Notes:
-While nursing a one-goal lead, Evan Weinger was hauled down on a breakaway. He was given a penalty shot, but could not get the puck past Berlin. That would have been a prime opportunity to have a two-minute power play as there was only 3:16 left in the game. You have to think the Hawks would have preferred the man advantage.
-Entering hockey games in Portland continues to be an issue as the line to get through security looked to be about 200-deep at puck drop, reportedly.
-Portland gets the one-point and now has a nine-point lead on Spokane for the last playoff spot out west. The Chiefs have 13 games left, while Portland has 12. Unless the Hawks go on a prolonged losing streak, it will be nearly impossible for the Chiefs to overtake them at this point. The two teams have two games left against each other.
-Meanwhile Portland is jus tone point back of Victoria for the first wild card spot and five points behind Tri-City for the third seed in the U.S. Division bracket. Portland has one game in hand on Tri-City. If the Hawks win in regulation on Wednesday in Kennewick, they could narrow that gap to just three points.

Seattle comes back to edge Portland 5-3

Not enough people outside of the U.S. Division know about Seattle defenseman Ethan Bear. The signed Edmonton Oilers' prospect was left off the Canadian U-20 team two years in a row despite being among the league's leading scoring d-men. Bear scored twice and added two assists en route to a come-from-behind 5-3 Seattle in over Portland Saturday night in Kent. The Thunderbirds scored three straight goals in the game's last period as they took a game that Portland appeared to be holding tight and won it in regulation, earning an important two points. Ryan Gropp, Mathew Barzal, Donovan Neuls and Keegan Kolesar each added two points in the Seattle win. Portland was led by three points from Keegan Iverson and two from Caleb Jones.

It looked to be a scoreless first period, until Ethan Bear powered home a one-timer off a feed from Ryan Gropp with just 40 seconds remaining in the period. Gropp drew Caleb Jones over to him at the blue line and fed a nice pass right to an onrushing Ethan Bear. Bear quickly fired the puck past Portland goalie Shane Farkas for the 1-0 lead.

Keegan Iverson helped the Hawks get even in the second period with a blind backhand pass from the corner right into the slot for  Henri Jokiharju to beat Seattle goalie Rylan Toth with a wrist shot. The goal was Jokijarju's eighth this season and came on the power play. Bear helped Seattle retake the lead as he worked to an open area and waited for Keegan Kolesar to knife through the defense and drop a pass across to him in space. Jones got that one back around five minutes later on a great individual effort. He flew up the ice while both teams were skating four aside and stomped on the brakes just inside the blue line. He then powered a slap shot past Toth to make it 2-2.

The game was a tight one entering the third period. The teams were tied and Seattle had just one more shot on net than the Hawks. Possession was also likely near 50:50. Portland took the early third period lead behind a goal from team captain Keegan Iverson. On a three-on-three rush up the ice, Iverson looked off both Toth and the defense before cutting to the middle and wiring a shot past Toth's blocker. The goal was Iverson's 17th of the year. Bear helped Seattle tie the game for the third time on the power play with 10:10 left. Bear's slap shot from the point was tipped in by Donovan Neuls at the net-front. The goal was initially given to Bear, leading Seattle fans to throw hats on the ice, thinking he had netted a hat trick. Eventually the goal was granted to Neuls. Then the "teenager line" put home the game-winner with 6:47 left. Sami Moilanen skated hard around the net and got a pass to the other side of the net where Neuls backhanded a pass to the far post. Tyler Adams was there to direct home the rebound and it was 4-3. Seattle put the game away with a goal as Portland was pressing. A long outlet pass from Bear to Keegan Kolesar sent him in on a two-on-one with Ryan Gropp. Kolesar dished to Gropp and the N.Y. Rangers' prospect put it away.

Shane Farkas stopped 25 of 28, while Farkas turned away 27 of 32.

Winterhawks continue Rebels' slide with 4-3 win

Despite being a really young team, Portland can play with anyone when they are on their game. That was certainly the case during Friday night's first period against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. Portland out shot Red Deer 17-8 and got just one goal. The play was not even that close and the Rebels have their goalie Lasse Petersen to thank for the game not getting out of hand early. That one goal would end up being the difference as the teams traded goals over the last two periods and Portland held on for a 4-3 win.

Joachim Blichfeld got things going just 59 seconds in as he took advantage of a turnover and skated out of the corner before firing a shot across the body and beating Petersen. The goal extended Blichfeld's goal streak to four games. He has six goals in that span.

Blichfeld hleped put the Hawks up 2-0 as he intercepted a Jared Freadrich pass in the Rebels' zone and fired a pass that was tipped in by Ryan Hughes. Blichfeld paid the price as he took a high stick as he made the pass. 1:33 later, the Rebels cut the lead to one with a power play goal. Colton Bobyk fired a point shot off the post and Adam Musil was "Johnny on the spot" for the rebound sliding it past Cole Kehler. Keegan Iverson put Portland up two once more as he made a great play in his own zone, tipping the puck off the boards and to himself as he flew out of the zone. Overson then fired a shot past Petersen and Portland was up 3-1. 39 seconds later the Rebels took advantage of a fortunate bounce to make it 3-2. Carson Sass's shot bounced around and came out to Michael Spacek in tight on the net. Spacek deftly flicked the puck in without much room to do so. In the back-and-forth second, Portland got the next goal off the stick of rookie Jake Gricius. On the rush, Gricius utilized a Lane Gilliss screen and wired a shot in past Petersen for the 4-2 lead.

Portland and Red Deer kept the flow going but nobody could find twine until there was just 5:48 left in the game. On the power play Freadrich got away a quick shot from the point that was deflected in off a Winterhawk defender. Portland's defense helped their goalie out the rest of the way by reading passing lanes and keeping many great scoring chances from getting in on Kehler. They held on for their 32nd win of the season.

Kehler got the win as he stopped 30 of 33. Meanwhile Petersen took the "L" as he turned away 40 of 44.

Red Deer went 2/6 on the power play while Portland went 0/5.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cole Kehler earns first shutout in 4-0 Portland win over Kamloops

Playing in his 76th career WHL game Monday afternoon in Kamloops, Cole Kehler picked a pivotal time to accomplish the first shutout of his WHL career. For one thing, he was less than two days removed from allowing seven goals to Seattle. For another he was taking on the team that traded him to Portland in the offseason for a seventh round bantam draft pick. His Winterhawks built a 3-0 lead going into the third period and Kehler stopped 41 total shots including 18 in the third period alone to backstop his team to a big 4-0 win. It was truly a tale of opposites as Kehler followed up the worst statistical start of his season with the best of his career. Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and an assist and Henri Jokiharju and Cody Glass both had two assists in the win. Team captain Keegan Iverson also had a goal in his return to the lineup after a one month absence due to injury.

Portland got things going with the lone goal of the first period 12:07 into the game. Cody Glass won a corner battle easily against Kamloops d-man Luke Zazula by lifting his stick. He then fed a pass right into the slot and to Keoni Texeira. The native of Fontana, California waited and picked his spot, beating Kamloops goalie Connor Ingram. The goal was Texeira's first since January 20th and 10th on the season.

The second period was Portland's best as they scored twice and sustained pressure throughout to the tune of 19 total shots. First, Cody Glass started the play by entering the Blazers' zone and dropping a pass to Blichfeld. The Danish sniper fired a pass across to Keegan Iverson and the Portland captain settled it before wiring it past Ingram. Then, after Ryan Hughes had his shot blocked, Blichfeld banked a backhand shot off of Ingram and in. The goal was Blichfeld's fifth in the last three games.

Portland then weathered the storm in the third period as Kehler stopped everything sent his way and his d-men did a great job of removing any rebounds from danger. The rebound goal has been Portland's bane this season and the improvement at clearing the puck was a big key in the shutout. Evan Weinger notched his 17th on the year into the empty net after Ingram was pulled for an extra attacker.

Connor Ingram lost for the first time in regulation to Portland over three seasons. He is now 5-1-0-1 against the Winterhawks all time. He stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced.

Portland went 1/1 on the power play while Kamloops went 0/2. The Hawks are now third in the league on the power play at 25.4 percent. They trail just Regina and Medicine Hat who both lead their divisions. Interestingly enough, the Hawks are far better on the power play when playing away form home. They convert 30.6 percent of their chances while on the road. This is just one percent behind Regina for best in the WHL.

Game Notes:
-Portland took the four-game season series from Kamloops with a 3-0-0-1 record.
-10 of the 15 remaining games Portland has to play are within the U.S. Division. Of the five non-divisional games, three are against the last-place team in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants.
-With Spokane edging Prince George elsewhere Monday, the Winterhawks stayed eight points ahead for the last seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Chiefs use their game in hand Tuesday night back in Prince George. They can cut the Portland lead down to six points with a win.
-With the win Monday though, the Hawks now trail Victoria by just one point for the seventh seed. They are also just two points behind Tri-City for the third seed in the U.S. with a game in hand.
-Keegan Iverson was back in the lineup and was noticeably breathing heavy. When he gets back into game shape, the impact he will have on the playoff run cannot be undersold.
-After months of playing with Evan Weinger, Ryan Hughes appears to have found some chemistry with Joachim Blichfeld. While playing on Alex Overhardt's wings the duo has been impressive. Blichfeld is now on a six-game point streak, during which he has 10 points.
-Kamloops was missing defenseman Ondrej Vala to a suspension and forward Deven Sideroff to an injury.
-While being forced into a lot of minutes by Vala's absence, Dallas Valentine had a strong game. His best moment came when he tied up Cody Glass on sure goal off play by Iverson and Jones that got the puck to the back door.
-With Michael Bullion getting his first WHL shutout Saturday night in a 5-0 Medicine Hat win over Lethbridge, both 19-year-old goalies who started the year with Portland earned their first shutouts two days apart.
-Next up for Portland is a game Friday night vs. Red Deer. They then play a home-and-home series with Seattle during the weekend.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Goaltending optional in Portland's throwback 8-5 loss in Seattle

The Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds have a pair of potent offenses. They put on a show in front of the fans in Kent on Saturday night. They combined for five first period goals and a total of 13 on just 62 combined shots. Seattle's Matt Barzal had one goal and five assists for his first career six-point night. He had 15 assists in one week of WHL hockey. The Thunderbirds battled through a rash of injuries that had them down to 16 healthy skaters and still they found a way to rack up eight goals in an 8-5 win over Portland. Ethan Bear and Ryan Gropp also had four points in the game for Seattle while Cody Glass led the way for the Hawks with three points.

Just 1:39 into the game Seattle got things going offensively. After Portland turned the puck over at the blue line, Barzal fed Tyler Adams and he drove into space, got Portland goalie Cole Kehler to go down and then backhanded a shot past him. The goal was Adams' first with the Thunderbirds and second of the year. The Winterhawks tied things up on a rebound in tight on Seattle goalie Rylan Toth. Keoni Texeira's slap shot created the second chance opportunity and Jake Gricius got two chances at the loose puck. The goal was Gricius's sixth this season. Just over a minute later Portland took the lead on a next-level play by their leading scorer. Brendan De Jong sent a nice pass down the left wing for Glass to skate onto and he roofed a backhand shot under the bar in tight on Toth. Seattle quickly knotted things back up though as Skyler McKenzie fanned on a great chance in the slot, leading to a breakout the other way. Ryan Gropp's shot on the rush was expertly tipped in by Mathew Barzal. It was one of the nicer tip-ins you will see at this level of hockey as Barzal put his stick between his legs to get the blade on it. In this track meet of a hockey game continued late in the first period as a pad save on an Evan Weinger breakaway by Toth at one end sparked a goal by Reese Harsch at the other. A rebound came right out to the d-man and he powered a shot past Kehler for the 3-2 Seattle lead.

The T-birds extended their lead with a short-handed marker to start the second. Caleb Jones tried to adjust and get a shot through, but tripped over himself, leaving Alexander True to skate onto the puck for a breakaway. He finished it off with a low shot through Kehler's five-hole. Seattle made it 5-2 on a five-on-three power play. After some great penalty-killing a worn down Portland unit could not get over in time to block an Keegan Kolesar one-timer of an Ethan Bear pass. The Hawks would not go quietly though as they erupted for two more goals in the period to cut the Seattle lead back to one. Ryan Hughes won a battle over Aaron Hyman for a 50-50 puck behind the Seattle net and smartly left the biscuit for Joachim Blichfeld who was skating the other way. A confused Toth thought Hughes still had it and he never even got to the other post to contest the Blichfeld wrap around chance. Then on the power play Glass fed a slick cross-ice pass to Blichfeld for a one-timer and the game was 5-4 entering the final frame.

After Portland had several great opportunities to tie the game up, Seattle scored a gut-wrenching goal to make it 6-4.  After Ryan Hughes took a hooking penalty, Seattle converted once more on the power play. The goal was of a familiar variety as Matt Barzal slid a saucer pass across to Ethan Bear for the one-timer. Kehler had no chance to get over in time. Portland once again cut the lead to one but you got the feeling they just could not stop Seattle enough on Saturday night to come all the way back. Cody Glass won a face off to Rylan Toth's left and Skyler McKenzie wired a shot past a screened Toth to make it 6-5. The goal was McKenzie's team-leading 35th of the year. Seattle got some insurance just 33 seconds later as they stretched out Portland's defense and Kolesar slid a shot/pass right onto the tape of Ryan Gropp at the back door. The N.Y. rangers' prospect buried it. He has now scored in six straight games. After Kehler was pulled for an extra-attacker Gropp netted another into the vacant twine to give its final score of 8-5.

Kehler had one of his worst statistical games as he stopped just 20 of the 27 shots he faced. Toth at the other end was a little better as he turned away 29 of 34.

Game Notes:
-Portland had quite a few defensive lapses in the game and really never limited Seattle's puck movement on the rush with back-checking.
-Glass is all the way up to 77 points in 54 games. He sits in seventh place, just one point back of Lethbridge overage forward Tyler Wong.
-Skyler McKenzie is seventh in goals with 35, just one back of Lethbridge's Zak Zborosky.
-Blichfeld has four goals in his last two games. With 48 total points he is now fifth in rookie scoring just one behind Medicine hat's John Dahlstrom.
-With Spokane beating Tri-City 4-3, they cut Portland's lead for the last playoff spot down to eight points. The Chiefs have one game in hand.