|Patrick Dea stopped 31 shots in the Oil Kings' win|
The Oil Kings opened the scoring on the power play as a shot from Aaron Irving from the blue line and a good screen in front of Adin Hill to take a 1-0 lead. Portland got a bit of life off a bad turnover by Dysin Mayo in his own zone. Rihards Bukarts guessed right that Mayo would try an outlet pass up the middle as he came out form behind his own net. He quickly picked off the pass and sneaked a shot through Edmonton goalie Patrick Dea for his first goal in six games. Edmonton would retake the lead late in the period, off another shot from the point. This time it was rookie d-man Jordan Dawson who fired a shot from the blue line that Rodrigo Abols, not only failed to block, but also helped disguise on it's way to Hill. The Oil Kings took a 2-1 lead into the second.
Instead of Portland looking inspired to start the second period, it was Edmonton who controlled play and extended their lead to two goals. A shot from the blue line bounced off of Hill and came right to Colton Kehler in front of the net. He backhanded the loose puck past Hill. Then, Edmonton took advantage of some poor positioning by Jack Dougherty to extend their lead to three. Dougherty tried to keep the puck in at the blue line and did, but did not succeed in getting it deep. He then did not back up enough and let Kole Gable get in behind him. Gable streaked in behind the Hawks' d-man and in on Hill. Hill took away the short-side, but Dougherty failed to close him out and he thus got around Hill and backhanded the puck off the far post and in.
Edmonton got their lead all the way to four goals in the third period as a loose puck found it's way to Gable at the left face off dot and he fired a quick shot over Hill's right shoulder. Hill, who utilizes aggressiveness to close down shooting angles, did not do so this time and paid the price. Gable scored his second goal of the game and his sixth in his WHL career.
Adin Hill gave up too many rebounds and was inconsistent in closing shooting angles. He stopped 44 of 49 shots overall. Portland did not test Edmonton's Patrick Dea enough and had few prime scoring chances. Dea saved 31 of the 32 shots he faced.
Edmonton scored twice on the five power plays, while Portland failed to score on the two chances they were given.
-Portland started Alex Overhardt's line for the first time this year. It was a throwback to the Mike Johnston days of starting the checking line first to force the puck deep and control play, That did not really happen for Portland in this game.
-Depth scoring will be way more important for Portland to have a playoff run this year and it has been way too inconsistent so far. Alex Overhardt and Evan Weinger seem the most likely to provide this scoring and it seems obvious that coach Jamie Kompon wants this from them too. Weinger again had prime chances in this one, but failed to convert them.
-Skyler McKenzie is another forward who seems capable of providing depth scoring, but he left this game in the first period and did not return.
-McKenzie is from nearby Sherwood Park, Alberta and it must have been painful to have to leave a game that assuredly a lot of friends and family were at. I did not see a reason or play why McKenzie left the game.
-Ryan Hughes seemed inspired to play a little harder tonight in his hometown of Edmonton. He appeared frustrated early by how physical the Oil Kings' d-men were on him. He was checked down to the ice multiple times and his frustration showed a she took two minor penalties in retaliation. Hughes' size is his biggest weakness and the 16-year-old needs to learn how to deal with the physical play more. This was also Oliver Bjorkstrand's biggest weakness early in his WHL career and we all know how he developed. Hughes has shown the potential to be an elite play-maker in the years to come if he can work through this.
-Keegan Iverson got back into the lineup after his two-game suspension. He again was slotted in one the third line with Overhardt and Weinger. He still appears to be playing through a nagging injury, after he missed some games with a possible concussion earlier this month. Portland really needs him to play inspired and throw his size around in order to create more room for his line-mates.
-Dougherty has played really poorly the last two games. I have seen him throw massive checks and expertly poke the puck away when forced into one-on-ones and in this game, he let the King's forward get in close on him and in Gable's case, right to the net.
-Caleb Jones was the best Winterhawk on the ice all game. He has found another gear as he has gotten used to playing in the WHL and he has me excited for next season, when he will be in his 19-year-old season. Jones is the smoothest skating d-man in a Portland sweater since Derrick Pouliot and well...his brother. He really struggled with positioning, both with his body and with his skating earlier in the season and has improved so much in these areas. He is starting to show confidence in his ability to jump up into the play and in this game it created some of Portland's best looks. Unfortunately for Jones, it was his second straight game where his stick failed him on a good looking chance on a one-timer. He broke another stick in the second period and has to be acquiring quite the equipment bill recently.
-It was also the second straight game, Portland had a shooter with an open net to shoot at, have the puck roll off their stick. This time it was Jones, who had a rebound come right to him, but it bounced just enough, that he could not file it home.
-Central Division road trip continues Friday night in Red Deer as the Winterhawks take on former prospect Taden Rattie and Memorial cup host Rebels.
-Spokane utilized 30 saves from Lass Petersen and shut out Prince George 1-0. They now have overtaken Portland for third in the U.S. Division with a 66-65 point edge. The Winterhawks sit in the seventh spot right now, with a two-point edge over Kamloops. The Blazers do have a game in hand though.
-Everett stormed back from a 5-1 deficit at home to Kelowna, tying the game and forcing overtime. They tied it on a highlight reel goal from rookie Connor Dewar. They were held to just one point though as Justin Kirkland ripped a relatively soft looking shot past Carter Hart for the winner in OT.
Winterhawks in the AHL:-Taylor Aronson had two assists for Milwaukee in a 6-4 loss to Rockford.
-Chase De Leo and Nic Petan both assisted on the lone Manitoba goal as they fell again, this time to Iowa 2-1.
Winterhawks in the ECHL:-Gasper Kopitar had an assist for Manchester in a 3-2 win over Adirondack.
-Garett Haar had an assist, helping Alaska out to a 2-1 second period lead. Colorado stormed back though and scored three straight, winning 4-2.