Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thunderbirds Rally; Defeat Hawks in OT: 5-4

Portland lost in a very disappointing way Saturday night in Kent, as they had victory snatched away after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead late in the game.

Portland again controlled much of the play as they have in their last 3 games with Seattle. This time however, they struggled with putting the puck in the net. The Hawks created several scoring chances in the first two periods, but trailed 3-1 as only Taylor Leier on a 1 on 2 shorthanded rush found the back of the net. Portland rang two posts in those two periods, including one where Oliver Bjorkstrand had Seattle Goalie Justin Myles down and out, but his shot in the inside of the post and trickled out.

Trailing 3-1 going into the third period, the Hawks came out looking extremely fired up and responded with 3 goals over a 6 minute span, taking the lead with 6 minutes left in the game on a beautiful goal by Brendan Leipsic. Derrick Pouliot's point shot rang off the post and an alert Leipsic deflected it right back at the net, beating Myles and giving the Hawks the lead. Former Winterhawk and current Seattle Coach Steve Konowalchuk immediately called timeout and looking back this may have saved the game.

Justin Hickman responded after finding the puck at the front of the net and the game went to overtime, assuring both teams get a point. The 4 on 4 overtime action was relatively even, but the T-birds would get the emotional win when Matthew Barzal dug the puck out of the corner and found Alexander Delnov alone with Hawk's Goalie Brendan Burke out of place. Delnov found the twine handing the Hawk's a devastating loss.

Observations From the Game:
-Both Steven Alldridge and Keoni Texeira spent early time in the locker room getting repairs. Despite immediately going to the locker room after taking a couple blows in an early first period fight with Mitch Elliot, Alldridge was joined down the tunnel by Equipment Manager Mark "Peaches" Brennan and not Trainer Rich Campbell. Campbell would instead go down the tunnel to see to Texeira after he took a shot to the face during play. Texeira would return with a full cage.
-Portland played right into the notoriously physical T-bird's hands int he early going when Alldridge chose to fight Elliot and Anton Cederholm dropped mitts with Evan Wardley. Both fights were lost in decisive fashion, firing up a seemingly listless ShoWare Center crowd.
-Keegan Iverson uncorked a nice wrist shot on the Hawk's second Goal. He scored it from beyond the right face-off circle. I would like to see him look to shoot more often, as the third line needs more offensive punch, with Presten Kopeck out.
-Kopeck blocked a shot Friday vs. Spokane and seemed to be much for the worse of wear. He was scratched, along with injured Forwards Adam Rossignol and Shane McColgan.
-Shaun MacPherson was scratched yet again and seems to be the odd man out on the Hawk's blue line.
-This is mostly because of how well the 3 new D-men have played and how much Layne Viveiros has improved.
-Having said that the Defense did not have great gap control and chased the puck on the last two Seattle Goals, leaving Seattle Forwards alone in front.
-I cannot understand why Seattle D-man Adam Henry (acquired from Lethbridge earlier in the year) is running the point with Shea Theodore on their top unit. He made about 4-5 terrible zone plays leading to chances the other way. He also did not close on Leier, allowing him to score the Hawk's first Goal.
-Burke, who allowed 5 Goals in the game, was again solid despite the number. Portland's Defense, though the team controlled the play for much of the game, gave up too many grade A opportunities.
-Petan (1 Goal, -3, playing much of the night against Barzal, Hickman and Delnov) fell another point back of Mitch Holmberg in the scoring race, as Holmberg had 2 points in his team's 4-3 OT win over Tri City.
-Everett also won in Calgary 1-0, meaning their lead over the Hawks in the Western Conference and U.S. Division goes to 3 points (42-39).

3 Stars:
#3- Matthew Barzal- 2 assists and  a wonderful play setting up the game winner. The Hawk's game plan seems to be to make the young star's life hell with physical play whenever they get the chance. The problem with this play is that it will only make him more of an offensive force in a year or two. Needless to say this guy will be an impact player in this series for awhile to come.

#2- Taylor Leier- One of the only Hawks to have a consistently solid game. He had a Goal and an Assist and was a force out there for every shift.

Justin Hickman
#1- Justin Hickman- 2 Goals, one of which was game tying. His size and style of play seemed to give the Hawk's Defense fits as they could not get him out of in front of the net.

Next game for the Hawks goes  Friday after Thanksgiving @Spokane as the Hawks will hope to get back on track against a team they are now 4-0 with an overall score of 19-12 this season.

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