Monday, March 21, 2016

Seattle Takes Ninth of 12 Season Series Games Over Portland 4-1

Matt Barzal had two points in Seattle's 4-1 win
The Seattle Thunderbirds and Portland Winterhawks played the last of their 12-game season series set and despite neither team having much to play for besides pride, it was a spirited affair. The Winterhawks, once gain, blew a lead, though at least this time it wasn't one of the three-goal variety and Seattle beat their I-5 rivals yet again. Both starting goalies were rested, giving way to backups Michael Bullion (Portland) and Logan Flodell (Seattle). For Bullion it was just his seventh start of the year and his first since before the Christmas break. Flodell outplayed his rusty counterpart, turning aside 37 of the 38 shots he faced, en route to a 4-1 Seattle win.

Portland opened the scoring in the first period, as Dominic Turgeon took advantage of a bouncing puck, that eluded Flodell just enough to land on his stick at a tight angle to the goal. Portland's captain corralled the puck and beat Flodell from about parallel to the goal, for his 36th goal of the season. He ended the season, with the team lead in points with 70, overall. Portland scored the goal, a second after Brett Clayton's minor penalty had expired, otherwise it would have been Turgeon's third shorthanded goal of the year.

Seattl tied the game in the second period, behind great plays by Donovan Neuls and Nolan Volcan, who have been more of the reason that Seattle has won a lot of the games between the two teams this year,then the bigger names on the T-birds' roster. Volcan worked his way behind the net, with the puck and deftly got a pass to a well-covered Neuls in front of the net. Neuls swiftly caught and fired the puck, beating Bullion. Seattle then used, their potent power play to take their first lead of the game. They have scored a lot of pretty power play goals against Portland this year, but this was not one of them. Mathew Barzal was attempting to center a pass and the puck careened instead off of Caleb Jones's skate and past Bullion. This fluky goal, would stand as the eventual game-winner. Jones's terrible night then continued as he negated an offsides call, by sliding the puck off of a Seattle forward's stick an, in essence passing the puck right to a breaking Alexander True. The Danish import then just snuck a shot past Bullion and Seattle had a 3-1 lead. True would easily have been called offsides if it had been a Seattle player passing to him and not Jones.

Seattle then put a mostly lackluster Portland team away in the third period, behind a great forehand, backhand play in tight, by 15-year-old forward Elijah Brown. The rookie scored in just his second career WHL game. It is really rare for a player to score in his 15-year-old year and Brown should be proud of himself for doing so.

Game Stats:

Game Notes:
-Though Brown did get his first goal, he was also welcomed into the WHL, by a huge body check by Alex Schoneborn.
-Schoenborn took a lick of his own, after a Seattle forward's stick got stuck under his face shield and cut him open, giving Portland four minutes of power play time.
-Bronson Sharp got three shots on net and in his return to the team, really looked the best he's looked all season. He's no longer playing with the full cage, as his team (Yale Academy Prep) had their season ended the previous week. He looked like he was going to bury his first career WHL goal at one point, but he had his stick lifted just in time, as a rebound was sitting right in front of a down and out Flodell.
-The Colton Veloso-Skyler McKenzie-Bronson Sharp line was probably Portland's best, despite getting matched up consistently against Barzal and his line. McKenzie being used as a center is an interesting look, as he could very well get more looks in this role next season. Portland will be without Dominic Turgeon and will be looking for someone to step up in his role. McKenzie will be in his 18-year-old season and will need to step up his offensive production, regardless of where he is slotted.
-Jack Dougherty made a couple strong plays in out-muscling an opponent to loose pucks in front of his goalie. Dougherty's play in front of his own net has been far too inconsistent this year. Often, he takes physical play too far and takes bad penalties and other times, he is not strong enough and gets outworked to these pucks, leading to goals. He found a balance in this one, clearing out troublesome loose pucks.
-On the flipside, Keegan Iverson has not been good enough this year, in getting to loose pucks in front of the other team's net. I really feel like his goal total should be around 20 or higher, instead of the 11 he had. A lot of times, the big framed forward, could not quite out-muscle his opponent and get his stick on the biscuit in tight.
-Portland opens their playoff series with Everett next Friday night at Xfinity arena. I will be taking a much closer look  at the series throughout this week.

Winterhawks in the NHL Sunday:
-Chase De Leo joined Nic Petan in getting called up by the Winnipeg Jets Sunday. It looked like at one point he had registered his first NHL point with an assist, but it was later taken away and given to a teammate. De Leo had just over 10 minutes of ice time, while Nic Petan had over 17 in the Jets' 3-2 loss to Anaheim.
-Nino Niederreiter had a goal and an assist for Minnesota and the Wild took down Chicago in the shoot out 3-2.
Winterhawks in the AHL Sunday:
-Ty Rattie assisted on the lone Chicago goal, as they fell to Milwaukee 2-1.
-Mac Carruth stopped 33 of 34 shots through regulation and overtime and then 11 of 13 in the circus, as Rockford won 2-1 in a 13 round shoot out over Charlotte.
Winterhawks in the ECHL Sunday:
-Thomas Frazee notched his 13th goal of the year for Atlanta, in their 5-4 loss to Florida.
-Wichita fell to Missouri 3-2, but Miles Koules extended his point-streak to six games with an assist.

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