Saturday, January 2, 2016

Portland Ousts Spokane 6-5 in the Shoot Out

Back on October ninth, Portland defeated a listless Spokane Chief squad 5-0. All three games between the two teams since then have needed more than 60 minutes to decide them. If they keep this up, a Spokane-Portland ticket could the hottest one in the WHL.

This game had everything from a soccer pass setting up a breakaway to a guy scoring from behind the goal line, to a crazy four-on-three overtime power play. Ultimately though, Portland was able to send the 7,722 in attendance home happy, after edging the Chiefs in the shoot out.

Spokane opened the scoring on their first shot of the game, just 29 seconds in. Portland got caught out of position and broke in on Portland goalie Adin Hill and d-man Blake Heinrich. Kailer Yamamoto was able to get a pass over to Wyatt Johnson and the overage forard beat Hill on his very first shift as a Spokane Chief. Johnson was acquired along with two draft picks and a 15-year-old prospect for Adam Helewka yesterday and is already paying dividends.

Portland quickly tied the score as Alex Overhardt perfectly timed the tip of a low Jack Dougherty entry shot and beat starting Chiefs' net-minder Matt Berlin. The Winterhawks quickly added another goal couple of minutes later as a Cody Glass shot from the blue line could not be gobbled up by Berlin and Rihards Bukarts poked the rebound home for his 20th of the year.

The scoring in a wild first period was not over though as Portland added a power play marker from Blake Heinrich as he patiently waited for Berlin to give him a gap on the glove side and beat him there. Spokane got one more in the opening period when Adin Hill mis-anticipated a Jason Fram shot, thinking it was going to his right, instead of to Dominic Zwerger on his left. Zwerger then niftily lifted it into the empty net to cut Portland's lead to 3-2.

Instead of pulling an obviously struggling Matt Berlin to start the second, Spokane decided to wait and they paid the price. Dominic Turgeon's shot on Wall, was left laying loose in the crease and Keegan Iverson found the puck first. That would end up being all the goals Wall would give up, but Spokane coach Don Nachbaur still waited until the media break in the period, before putting Tyson Verhlest in for Matt Berlin.

The Chiefs immediately showed more spark after switching goalies and started to amp up their forecheck pressure on Portland. This pressure caused a Jack Dougherty outlet pass to be behind Dominic Turgeon. Kailer Yamamoto found the loose puck and got it to Zwerger, who could not beat Hill in tight. Yamamoto though followed up the play and closed the gap to one, once again.

The third period woudl be the stangest yet in this crazy game. First, after a pass deflected the puck high in the air below Portland's blue line, Rodrigo Abols kicked the falling puck abut 40 feet to a streaking Keegan Iverson. The New York Rangers' prospect beat Verhlest on the glove side, giving Portland a 5-3 lead. The two-goal game for Iverson is his second multi-goal game of the year.

Spokane scratched and clawed their way back into the game though. First, they cut the lead to one when Adin Hill made a mistake in trying to go and play the puck, before realizing it was in the off-limits trapezoid area. Keanu Yamamoto was first to the now loose puck and he shot it form the corner, banking it in off of Hill's left pad, as he scrambled back. For the second meeting in a row, Spokane was able to tie the game late as Zwerger swooped in behind the Portland net and found Spokane d-man Evan Fiala near the right faceoff dot. Fiala made no mistake in beating Hill on the far side and sending this game into overtime.

In the extra session, Spokane was awarded a four-on-three power play after Keegan Iverson tried to come on the ice for Rodrigo Abols, who did not come off. The ensuing "too many men on the ice" penalty gave Spokane a great chance to walk away with the two points. Portland's Adin Hill, who had a below average game for him made two great stops on the PK and allowed the Hawks to get the game to the shoot out. One of the saves was made off of Hill's head/shoulder area and caused him some discomfort.

Spokane jumped ahead to start the circus after Rihards Bukarts failed to score and Jaret Anderon-Dolan beat Adin Hill. The Hawks would be the ones staging the comeback in the shoot out though as both Jack Dougherty and Dominic Turgeon beat Verhelst with slick backhand shots and Adin Hill made sprawling, acrobatic saves on Dominic Zwerger and Kailer Yamamoto.

The shoot out win means Portland is now 2-0 in the circus and 4-1 overall in games that go beyond 60 minutes. Spokane has lost five OT/Shoot out games this year.

Adin Hill stopped 34 of 39 shots overall for Portland. For Spokane, Berlin made 12 saves on 16 shots and Verhelst, in relief, stopped 12 of 13. Verhelst actually made all of his saves after the second period as Portland failed to generate any shots on him for a 10 minute span to end the middle frame.

Portland's second power play unit scored a goal and the team went 1/3 overall. In giving up the PP marker to Zwerger, Portland went 2/3 on the PK. On the season, Portland is now 34/158 for 21.5% (eight in the WHL). Meanwhile, their PK on the year is 131/162 or 80.9% (10th in the league).

Game Stats:

F/O %
Abols 0 2 2 2 - - 2 0 0
0 1 1 1 15/35 42.9% 0 0 0
Iverson 2 0 2 5 1/1 100% 5 1 0
1016 --100
Schoenborn0001- 210
0110- 300
Overhardt10 118/1457.1%300
Weinger0001 --30 0
Nagel0 0 0 1--20 0
Hughes0 1112/450%10 0
Texeira00 02--402
De Jong0001  --31 2

-With the win, Portland cut into Spokane's lead for the third spot in the U.S. division by one point. Spokane is now 19-14-3-2 for 43 points, while Portland is 19-17-1-0 for 39 points. They get another shot tomorrow to cut into it even more.
-Everett, with a recent three-game winning streak is tops in the division with 46 points. This means that seven points is all that separates the top four teams.
-Tyson Helgesen continues to be a solid d-man for the Chiefs. He made an impressive save on a Rihards Bukarts rebound shot and then later cleared the puck out of certain danger in the Spokane crease.
-Jack Dougherty made a couple nice plays behind his net under heavy forechecking pressure. He's gotten a lot better under presure for Portland. He still had a couple outlet passes that were mis-timed, but overall has been Portland's best puck-handling d-man in any area of the ice.
-Tanner Nagel got into his first game since the Christmas break and provided energy on the fourth line. His best play was a turnover he forced off of great fore-checking pressure.
-Blaek Heinrich was called for diving for the first time that I can recall. This is a penalty usually called on repuation, so I don't know if maybe word is getting around to referees in the league about Blake trying a little too hard to draw calls.
-Spokane really amped up their forecheck pressure as the game went on. They also rolled out a very aggressive penalty kill that, for the most part, gave Portland fits.
-Verhlest's best save of the night was on Blake Heinrich, who found a rebound and had the whole net to shoot at. Verhlest made a dynamite glove save on the shot.
-Faced with a four-on-three penalty kill in overtime, Portland went with Dominic Turgeon, Blake Heinrich and Keoni Texeira for the entire two minutes. They even utilized a time out to make sure these three could stay out there. That means to me that coach Jamie Kompon proably trusts those three individuals in that situation, way more than he trusts any other skaters. They played well enough to earn the belief with a very important kill.
-Adin Hill is now 4-0 in the shootout in his career. His last save on Kailer Yamamoto was a crazy sprawling one that will not be found in any textbook on goaltending.
Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Nino Niederreiter had his 11th assist on the year, but Minnesota fell in the circus to Tampa Bay 3-2.
-Colton Sceviour is on a recent tear for Dallas as he scored his fifth goal of the year and the Stars fell to New Jersey in overtime 3-2.
-Paul Gaustad scored his first goal of the year for Nashville, sending the game to OT where the Predators would edge Carolina 2-1.
-Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky both had assists and scored in the shoot out as Columbus beat Washignton 5-4.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Brendan Leipsic had an assist as Toronto edged Syracuse 3-2.
-Taylor Leier had an assist as Lehigh Valley fell to Portland 4-3.
-Derrick Pouliot with an assist and Wilkes/Barre Scranton beat Springfield 4-1.
Winterhawks in the ECHL:
-Gasper Kopitar has goals in consecutive games as Manchester fell to Greenville 3-2.
-Cam Reid could be earning another AHL tryout somewhere as he had two goals and an assist in a 5-0 Reading victory over Adirondack.
-Mac Carruth was handed his first loss in four games as he gave up two goals on 26 shots in a 2-1 Indy loss to Wichita.
-Garrett Haar and Williams Wrenn each potted assists for Alaska in a 3-2 victory over Utah.

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