Thursday, February 11, 2016

Portland Blows Lead, Then Edges Spokane in Extra-Time Again, 3-2

Rodrigo Abols scored the OT winner
Portland and Spokane games at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena have been entertaining, pulse raising ones this season. Wednesday night was no different, as Spokane came back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime with under a minute to go. Then, after both teams had good looks, Rodrigo Abols was able to poke home a rebound for his first WHL OT winner and third career game-winning-goal. It was fitting that Abols, the guy who had two goals dis-allowed on Saturday, scored the big goal in this game.

This time of year, every game within the U.S. Division is big, but especially those with Spokane. As Spokane gets a point for forcing OT, Portland only closed the gap between the two teams vying for third place in the Division to two points, but it is better than if Spokane had found a way to win. This is the fourth and last game in Spokane (at least in the regular season) for Portland and they have won three of them. Of the four games, three have gone to extra-time. Previously, Portland's Dominic Turgeon and Spokane's Kailer Yamamoto have played the OT hero role.

Portland opened the scoring in this one, in the first period, on a pretty power play goal from Dominic Turgeon. Jack Dougherty made a nifty pass down low on Spokane goalie Lasse Petersen's left side. Turgeon caught the pass with his skates and quickly went forehand, backhand, roofing the shot upstairs. Spokane nearly tied the game, as a shot from the blue line trickled through Adin Hill's pads, but Portland's goalie smartly fell back on it, freezing the play.

Then in the second period, Portland had their third goal in two games called off after Alex Schoenborn poked a rebound home. It was ruled that the whistle blew before the puck crossed the goal line. The Winterhawks responded though, as Caleb Jones intercepted an outlet pass at the Spokane blue line and after Alex Overhardt's initial shot was stopped by Petersen, Colton Veloso put the rebound in for his 10th of the year. This staked Portland to a 2-0 lead, going into the third period. So far this year, Portland is 18-1 when leading after two.

The two teams traded chances in the third period, but were scoreless until Spokane converted on a three-on-two rush. Keanu Yamamoto found the trailer, Jacob Cardiff and Cardiff wired it past Hill to cut Portland's lead to one. Petersen and Hill traded fantastic saves for most of the rest of the third period. Finally, with Petersen pulled for an extra-attacker, Dominic Zwerger converted the second rebound, tying the game with 59 seconds left. This was the second time this year that Spokane was able to tie a game with Portland with under a minute to play. Oddly enough, Portland d-man Jack Dougherty committed another late penalty, but Spokane did not need the power play this time in getting the game tying goal.

The big story, besides Abols' game-winner was the fact that the referees decided not to call any penalties, despite multiple opportunities on either side. Jack Dougherty again played the set up guy, by driving the net and creating a rebound for Abols to slam past Petersen. Portland is now 6-0-1 vs. Spokane this year with one game left to play in the seaosn series.

Adin Hill was marvelous for Portland, stopping 39 of 41 shots, while Petersen was game for 36 of the 38 shots he faced.

Portland converted on one of their three chances, while Spokane was 0/3.


F/O %
Bukarts 0 0 0 2 - - 0 0 0
Glass 0 0 0 1 4/11 36.4% 3 2 0
Schoenborn 0 0 0 7 - - 3 1 0
Veloso1011 --310
De Jong0001--500
MacEachern0001  --100

Game Notes:
-Portland was noticeably better in this game at breaking out of their own zone on the rush. One of the big reasons for this was crisp and clean passes coming out by Portland's d-men. Specifically defensemen like Jack Dougherty and Caleb Jones were much better in this game at seeing the second level of forecheck and getting the pass away from the fore-checker and into space.
-Also, Portland's forwards were better at using that space to break out cleanly into Spokane's zone. This is the recipe for Portland's system to be successful.
-A couple Winterhawks that took tough tumbles to the ice were Colton Veloso and Adin Hill. Veloso was checked by two different Chiefs and eventually was able to skate under his own power to the bench. He did not miss any shifts. Hill lost his helmet after Dominic Zwerger rushed the net and ran him over, under pressure from Blake Heinrich. Zwerger was given a "goalie interference" penalty on the play. Hill did not miss any time.
-Brett Clayton was scratched, so Portland, once again, went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
-Alex Overhardt was back in the lineup after a two-game absence.
-Keegan Iverson missed another game and I would not be surprised if he missed at least another week or two.
-Abols has played well vs. Spokane this season. In four games vs. the Chiefs, he has two goals and five assists for seven points. He was absent during their lone loss to Spokane this year.
-Alex Schoenborn is shooting like mad lately. After firing six shots on net vs. Victoria last Saturday, he had seven in this one. He is playing with two guys that are amazing passers, so look for this trend to continue. He is also, quite good at legally creating room for himself in front of the opponent's net on the power play.
-Tanner Nagel, once again, stood up for a teammate as he fought Tanner Faith, after Faith checked linemate Ryan Hughes to the ice from behind. Nagel held his own and is developing a reputation as a guy who will never back away from a challenge.

Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Braydon Coburn had an assist on the lone Tampa Bay goal as the Lightning felt to Ottawa 5-1.
-Matt Dumba has a four-game point streak going now as he had an assist for Minnesota in a 4-3 OT loss to Dallas.
-Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist, but Columbus still fell to the N.Y. Islanders 3-2.
-Ryan Johansen had an assist for Nashville in a 5-3 loss to Washington.
-Sven Baertschi had a goal and Luca Sbisa an assist as Vancouver beat Colorado 3-1.
-Jannik Hansen scored for Vancouver and it stood up as the game-winner in a 2-1 win over Arizona.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Oliver Bjorkstrand had two goals for Lake Erie and his Monsters won in OT 3-2.

-Taylor Leier scored his first career hat trick and Lehigh Valley beat Binghamton 7-2.
-Texas won a wild one over Manitoba 7-6. Nic Petan had two goals and an assist and Chase De Leo had an assist in the loss.
-Rob Klinhammer scored two goals, including the game-winner in a Bakersfield 4-2 win over San Diego.

Winterhawks in the ECHL:
-Troy Rutkowski scored the OT winner for Evansville as they beat Fort Wayne 3-2.
-William Wrenn notched another assist as Alaska beat Allen 5-1.

Hossa Named to WHL's Top 50 Ever:
-Online voting has been going on over the last two months at and Marian Hossa (played in Portland in the 1997-98 season) is the first former Winterhawk on the list. He came in at #41 on the list of best WHL players over the past 50 years. The fact that Hossa was able to do this, in his only season playing major junior is not surprising to me. He physically dominated the opposition at this level and goes down as one of my favorite WHL players to see in person, over my 25 years of watching WHL hockey.
Winterhawks' Prospects:
-Mitchell Mattson (1998 birth year and listed player) is a finalist for the state of Minnesota's "Outstanding Senior Player." He leads Grand Rapids High School in goals with 17 in 23 games. Mattson is committed to play for the University of North Dakota starting this fall. He is also ranked as a top 25 prospect for this year's NHL draft.
-Defending Minnesota High School state champion Nick Poehling (1999 birth year and listed player) had a pivotal goal and added two assists as Lakeville North defeated Duluth East 3-2. Poehling was on the Lakeville North team that beat Duluth East in the state title game last year. Poehling has 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points in his Junior year in high school. Poehling is committed to play for St. Cloud State in 2017.
-2015 Winterhawks' eighth round pick Ilijah Colina and the Valley West Hawks have a 25-6-1 record in the BCMML, with eight games left and will have home-ice advantage to start the postseason. Colina had the game-winner in a big 5-1 win over the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds last weekend.

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