Monday, December 2, 2013

Winterhawks Survive Opportunistic Blades Behind Petan's 4 Goal Night: 6-5

The Portland Winterhawks were able to come back and beat the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Sunday night in Portland, despite being down 4-1 late in the 2nd period and 5-4 with only 6 minutes left.

Portland out shot the overmatched Blades 53-16 overall and created scoring chances in the double digits, but still trailed for most of the game. This was because Saskatoon Goalie Alex Moodie turned in one of the better 6 goals against performances in recent memory. Moodie made multiple diving athletic saves in the game and frustrated the Hawks time and time again.

Nic Petan was the main reason the Hawks survived the 10-17-1-2 Blades, potting 4 goals and 1 assist, 3 of which came on the power play. This was Petan's second career 4 goal game, the other coming against Seattle in March of the 2011-12 season. Petan also notched his second career 5 point night, the other being also against Seattle during the final game of the 2012-13 season. Despite being in on 5 of the 6 goals, Petan was not on the ice for the game winning goal, which was scored with 20 seconds to go when Taylor Leier found Oliver Bjorkstrand with a slick backhand pass from behind the net which found Bjorkstrand between the face-off circles, where he blew it by Moodie and the exhausted Blades.

Saskatoon was in their 3rd game in 3 nights against the U.S. Division and they lost all 3 games. They looked flat out beat at the end of the game, despite clinging to a 1 goal lead at 5-4. Saskatoon Coach Dave Struch had already called a time out earlier in the game and so was unable to give his tired players a late rest. This directly led to the Blades defense leaving Goalie Moodie out to dry for Petan's game tying goal with 6 minutes left and Bjorkstrand's winner.

Jarrod Schamerhorn got his 4th career start for the Hawks, as they chose to rest starter Brendan Burke for Tuesday's game vs. the WHL leading Everett Silvertips. Their dreams of doing so were squashed by a very subpar performance by Schamerhorn. He stopped only 7 of 11 shots and was yanked with 8 plus minutes left in the second period. He was the victim of 2 early costly errors by his defense and simply took a bad angle on the Blades 4th goal, leading to his early exit. Burke came in and proceeded to stop 4 of the 5 shots he faced. Moodie was excellent for much of the game and stopped 47 of 53 shots.

Observations From the Game:
-All 4 of Petan's goals were scored in similar ways with either a fortunate bounce off the back boards or a sweet pass form behind the net, leaving him all alone with an empty net to shoot at as Moodie dove in vain to make a save.
-The Blades really seemed to over commit on the back door pass that the Hawks are known for and this made plays to the net and then out in front available.
-Layne Viveiros and Derrick Pouliot were out there together for 4 on 4 hockey which does not happen often. It may not happen much again as they proceeded to make a couple costly errors early in the second period, allowing grade a chances and the Blades a 3-1 lead.
-Brendan Leipsic notched the first 5 assist game of his career in the win.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand had 2 goals and an assist. Petan now has 60 points on the season, 4 off the pace set by Spokane's Mich Holmberg. Holmberg has been held off the score sheet in the last 2 Spokane games, since scoring a hat trick against Portland. Bjorkstrand is 13 back with 51.
-Portland was 3/7 on the power play after failing to score on a 5 on 3 advantage in the first. Portland created their 7 power plays by simply being way too fast for the Blade's defense. Saskatoon's top pairing: 5 of the 7 penalties were taken by D-men, most times in situations where they felt they had to take one.
-The Blades sport a large team, but their weakness (lack of speed) was apparent tonight, as the Hawks blew by them time and time again.
-Despite out playing the Blades, the Hawk's gave up 5 goals to a Blades team that capitalized on every good chance they were given. Former Vancouver Giant Nathan Burns scored twice, as did 17 year old Matt Revel.
-Elsewhere in the U.S. Division: Spokane lost to Seattle 5-1, behind Shea Theodore's 3 assists. The Chiefs have now dropped 3 in a row. The Chiefs had fallen the previous night to Tric City (2-1), helping end Tri City's own 3 game skid.

3 Stars:
#3- Oliver Bjorkstrand- scored the all important game tying goal, whcih essentially ended the night for the tired Blades.

#2- Brendan Leipsic- Both he and Petan were much better than they were in Spokane, after getting some rest Saturday. They had played 3 games in 3 nights, with the Subway Super Series.

#1- Nic Petan- Seems like the coaches are encouraging him to shoot more on the power play as he probably took over 10 shots total. In today's WHL, where every second of game tape is studied, this really opens up more options for the most talented unit in the league.

For the second time in 3 weeks Tuesday's game in Everett will match up the team's with the 2 best records in the league. Portland, which is now only 1 point back (44-43) is hoping to re-take the top spot that they gave up to Everett the last time the two played.

The game will kick off their second Alberta swing of the year.

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