Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Portland Drops Second in a Row; Loses to Tri City 6-2

Home cooking was not the answer for the Portland Winterhawks on Tuesday night, as they dropped to 1-1-0-1 on the season with a 6-2 home loss in the Moda Center.

Brian Williams led the way for the Americans with a hat trick as the line of Williams, Phil Tot and Connor Rankin accounted for 5 of the American's 6 goals. Tri City was able to withstand early pressure by the Winterhawks, buoyed no doubt by the return of Brendan Leipsic to the lineup  After the up-tempo start has the Hawks, let up just a bit and gave up a crushing goal. This time it was a bouncing puck that bounced right onto the stick of Tot who buried it past Brendan Burke.

After the first, Tri City led 4-1 and after the second 6-1, pretty much ending any hope of a Hawks comeback. Brendan Burke was yanked after the second period, even though a majority of the goals could not be blamed on him solely. Some did not even come off of Tri City sticks. He stopped 26 of 32 and Eric Comrie, had a stand out performance stopping 30 of 32.

Observations from the Game:
-The Winterhawks Defense has been god-awful the last two games for the Hawks, failing to clear loose pucks from in front of Burke and being unable to get the puck past their blue-line in the worst situations.
-Layne Viveiros had a game to forget as he had horrible positioing on an entry pass in the first period that led to a Brian Williams break-away goal. He also left the game after blocking a slap shot. He did return late in the game. His return was highlighted by William's third goal, which went off of his stick and ended Burke's night.
-Portland went with a top line of Keegan Iverson, Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic and they had a ton of great opportunities early. Look for Coach Johnston to stick with these three for as long as Paul Bittner is out.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand has been the most consistent Winterhawk so far as he had a brilliant feed to Taylor Lier from behind the net, cutting the score to 2-1 and giving Portand life in the first.
-Josh Hanson has been a bit of an enigma in the early going this season. When confident, he can force play into the opponents zone and he has been marvelous at times in cutting off lanes to the net (something most of the other D-men are not doing). He had a confidence wrecking gaffe last night though as while Burke was retrieving his stick from behind the net, Hanson tried a cross ice pass that deflected off the fore-checking Lucas Nickles' stick and into the empty net. This wrecked the Hawks as it was the eventual game winner and destroyed all the momentum they had been building.
-Shaun MacPherson was another awful Defenseman tonight, as he served up a pizza right onto the stick of Brian Williams, with little pressure coming at him infront of Burke.
-Alex Schoenborn was a bit of a bright spot for the Hawks as he danced around 2 Tri City defenders, and beat Comrie short side with 1:45 left, ending the score at 6-2 Ams. I have been one of his most frequent critisizers and I have to admit that he shows a little offensive upside from time to time. He definitely needs some work at retrieving the puck on the fly as the play dies on his stick too often, but he seems to be getting better.
-Jarrod Schamerhorn was excellent in relief of Burke, stopping all 8 shots he faced including a flurry of shots in the early 3rd period.
-Leipsic's return to the lineup could not have gone worse for him as he was held off of the score sheet and committed 3 minor penalties.
-Tri City was 2/6 on the power play and Portland was 0/7, despte creating many scoring chances.
-Portland's Forwards have got to do a better job of back-checking as the Defense seems overwhelmed any time the opponent rushes the puck.
-Portland hopes to end the 2 game skid Saturday night at home vs. Seattle.

3 Stars:
#3- Mitch Topping- 2 assists on the night and bailed the Americans out on the penalty kill countless times.

#2- Eric Comrie- He has not played well vs. the Hawks in the past at all, but certainly was one of the biggest reason they pulled this game out.

#1- Brian Williams- Hat trick for Tri City was his first since January 6th of 2012 vs. Seattle.

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