|Donovan Neuls Scored the S.O. Winner Saturday|
The Winterhawks dominated possession in the game's opening period, as the Mathew Barzal and Ryan Gropp-less T-birds seemed to be lacking incentive. Their top scoring forwards were rested, due to Seattle already clinching first place in the U.S. Division and not really having much to play for. The Winterhawks' first goal came on the power play, as Jack Dougherty passed to Jack Dougherty down low on the right side and then received to right back, setting up a one-timer that beat Seattle goalie Landon Bow. Alex Schoenborn had a couple really good looks in the period, utilizing his speed to blow past Seattle d-man Turner Ottenbreit on one play and just barely not getting it past Bow. This exemplifies Seattle's biggest weakness to me. Their d-men are not fleet of foot and have a tendency to let speedy forwards blow past them and set up odd-man rushes or even breakaways.
Portland added to their lead in the second period, again on the power play. It was set up by hard work from Dominic Turgeon, who won a board battle and set up a mini two-on-one for Keegan Iverson and Rihards Bukarts. Iverson sold Bow on the fact that he was going to shoot and then deftly slid the puck over to Bukarts, who quickly fired back the other way, beating Bow. Then just 1:13 later, Colton Veloso pounced on the rebound of an Alex Overhardt shot and flicked a backhand shot into the net. Seattle responded to Portland's push, with a power play goal of their own. While on the power play, they caused Portland to take another penalty and utilized their six-on-four advantage to score their first goal of the game. Scott Eansor scored when he drove the net with a power move and had the puck roll off of his stick. Portland's Adin Hill was not expecting for the puck to come at him in this way and thus allowed it to roll in between his pads. Eansor then quickly poked the puck in to cut Portland's lead to two.
Portland did a good job of shutting down Seattle in the later stages of the second and early stages of the third. That ended when Caleb Jones hauled down Nolan Volcan and then Blake Heinrich was called for tripping Scott Eansor. In looking at the replay multiple times, it is very clear that Eansor fell of his own accord and Heinrich's stick only contacted Eansor around the knee, which would not be enough to make him fall. To set up a five-on-three, a team usually has to commit a pretty blatant penalty. This was not the case and it, in effect, helped swing the game. On top of being two men, down, Portland was without two of their top-four d-men. Seattle scored on the five-on-three when Ethan Bear fired a one0timer past Hill and then scored on the five-on-four, when Bear faked a shot and got Portland's defense and goalie to bite, before sliding it down to an all alone Alexander True. The big Danish Center, tucked his shot into the vacant net to tit eh game. Portland had a really good chance to win in regulation, as they were handed a late power play, but were unable to.
Portland still was able to clinch third in the U.S. Division and a date with the Everett Silvertips, by gaining a point, while Spokane lost in regulation to Tri-City, in their last game of the season.
Seattle had the most of possession in the third period, partly due to a power play they were given, after Keoni Texeira's stick came up on Nolan Volcan. However, they were unable to take advantage on this power play.
In the shoot out that followed, Donovan Neuls got the winner in the fifth round.
-Jerret Smith is one of the most underrated defenseman in the league. He does a lot of the little things out there on the ice that go unnoticed. Ethan Bear scores more goals and Jared Hauf throws more of the big hits for Seattle, but both are way more susceptible to costly mistakes in their own zone then Smith is. He was once again stellar for Seattle in this game and made several nice defensive plays that helped Seattle not fall down by more than the three goals.
-Bukarts cored his goal on his fifth shot of the game, after only 23 minutes of game time. He has 31 goals now this season and his play-making ability has been a godsend, since being acquired from Brandon. Now that they are set to play Everett, the bona fide "'Tips Killer," will be relied upon a lot in the first round of the playoffs, to provide this ability to get his shot off against a team that keeps a lot form getting in on net.
-On top of the call on Heinrich, I also had a big problem with the power play Seattle got out of a melee between Nolan Volcan and Evan Weinger. Volcan ended the kerfuffle, by throwing Weinger down to the ice, but only Weinger received the roughing penalty. It is a rare circumstance, when the initial penalty is called, while the retaliation is not, but this was that case.
-Two fights in this game, after none for Portland in awhile. Blake Heinrich and Skyler McKenzie both dropped the mitts and showed their team that they are willing to answer the call, if needed.
-Alex Overhardt and Evan Weinger have both spent a lot of time in coach Jamie Kompon's dog house this season and Weinger did not help himself by taking a dumb penalty behind the play. The two of them have made it too much of a habit this year, of taking penalties like this and Seattle has been a team that has made them pay often.
Winterhawks in the NHL Saturday:-Nino Niederreiter notched an assist for Minnesota in their 3-2 shootout win over Carolina.
-Recent call up, Oliver Bjorkstrand, scored not just his first NHL goal, but also his second, in a 6-3 win over New Jersey. Seth Jones also scored for CBJ and Brandon Dubinsky had an assist.
Winterhawks in the AHL Saturday:-Rob Klinkhammer had another two-point game for Bakersfield, as he scored and added an assist, in a 6-5 OT loss to Stockton.
Winterhawks in the ECHL Saturday:
-Miles Koules had an assist for Wichita and the Thunder took down Missouri 4-2.
-Tristan King scored his 11th goal of the year for Allen and the Americans fell in the shoot out 3-2. King was unable to convert on his shootout chance.