Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spokane Takes Down Portland in OT 5-4

The Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs played the last game of their eight-game season series and like several of the others, it went into overtime. The Chiefs were able to get a big goal from Hudson Elynuik, off a great pass from Keanu Yamamoto, in the game's extra session to win and take a one point lead on Portland for third place in the U.S. Division. With each team gaining at least a point, the Tri-City Americans were eliminated from the playoffs. Both Spokane and Portland have thus clinched a spot. Where they will play, is still a good question.

Portland jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period, all in the span of 2:19 of game time. First, Keegan Iverson, while on the power play, walked off the boards and picked the blocker-side corner on Spokane goalie Lasse Petersen. The goal was Iverson's 11th of the year and hopefully means the N.Y. Rangers' prospect will break out, after a season where he has struggled to score. The power play was earned by great board work from right win Colton Veloso. 40 seconds later, Skyler McKenzie made a deft backhand pass from behind the net, right to Alex Overhardt in front of the net. The Winterhawks' center just sneaked the puck past Petersen. Lastly, off a great cycle, Cody Glass made a fantastic pass that fooled all Spokane players on the ice and got Rihards Bukarts in alone. The Latvian winger deked around Petersen and beat him in tight. Spokane recovered though and cut the Hawks' lead back to two. They scored when rookie Ethan McIndoe beat Portland's defense to a loose puck and fed Nik Andersen, who was right to goalie Adin Hill's left. Andersen was able to get the puck between Hill's legs.

Spokane then cut Portland's lead to one in the second period as the Yamamoto brothers went to work. While on the power play, Kailer Yamamoto made a nifty back door pass to Keanu Yamamoto and the older brother beat Hill.

In the third period, two goals from the Chiefs, appeared to set Spokane up to take all of the possible points in the Rose City and put Portland in an extremely vulnerable position. First, Kailer Yamamoto's active stick on the penalty kill in his own zone, set up a breakout the other way with former Winterhawk Preston Kopeck. Portland's Jack Dougherty went down way too early to take away the pass and the younger Yamamoto made a nice saucer pass to set up Kopeck alone in on Hill. Kopeck deked around Hill and backhanded his shot in off the far post. The Chiefs then got a goal from defenseman Matt Sozanski to take their first lead. Sozanski was set up Keanu Yamamoto who won a battle in front of Hill to set up the open Sozanski. This was the third straight game with a goal for Sozanski, who had not scored at all this year prior to this recent run. Portland was saved the embarrassment of losing due to four straight goals against, by their captain Dominic Turgeon. After Dominic Zwerger hit the post at one end, Turgeon scooped up the puck and went coast to coast, ultimately sneaking a shot past Petersen on the far post to tie the game at four with 3:30 left. Portland got a late power play, but were unable to put the game away in regulation, after Petersen made a couple big saves.

The Chiefs would go on to win in overtime on the goal by Elynuik and they retake third place in the U.S. Division, yet again. Spokane plays one more game this year, while Portland plays in Seattle Saturday and home vs. the T-birds Sunday.
PlayerGoalsAssistsPointsShotsFace Off WinsFace OffsFO %HitsBlocked ShotsPenalty Minutes
De Jong0000---110
Team Total45939356355.56%38146
Game Notes:
-New stats area starting with this game, giving more of the team totals.
-The Winterhawk fired 39 shots in on Petersen and the goalie was the biggest reason that Spokane got the big win. He stopped 35 of 39 and has played pretty well in relief of injured starting goalie Tyson Verhelst. He looks to be the goalie being given the reins after the Chiefs' starter went down with an injury that should keep him out for the year. 
-Adin Hill made a couple big saves in the third period, but still only stopped 25 of 30 overall.
-Jason Fram was one of Spokane's best skaters and he really seems to do a lot of little things that sometimes get overlooked. He had several big blocks and won a few, pivotal puck battles in dangerous areas on the ice. He has battled injuries off and on, over the last few months and if he is healthy, he could have a big playoff run.
-Colton Veloso is a ball of energy out there. He plays a big role for Portland as he has been the driving force on the fourth line and has been the big reason they've had a lot of good scoring looks, when matched up with the other team's bottom line. 
-Adin Hill set a team record with his 64th start this year. He seems to be on pace to get 66 of the 72 starts this year.
-Turgeon has struggled lately, at the face off dot against Markson Bechtold and Wyatt Johnson. With Johnson injured and Bechtold moved to the wing, he had a lot more success against Preston Kopeck and co.
-14 blocked shots seems about on average with what Portland has been putting up. It has been pretty rare though, to have each of their six d-men get one.
-Playing with a heavy heart, after his Father passed away this week, it was good to see Alex Schoenborn play well, cranking five shots on net. On a side note, when he gets five or more shots, it's usually a recipe for a Portland victory.
-Portland wins the season series 6-0-2 and thus did not lose a game in regulation to the Chiefs.
Alex Schoenborn Signed by San Jose:
-A little late on this news, but Alex Schoenborn was able to earn a contract with the team that drafted him nearly two years ago, the San Jose Sharks. Schoenborn has had a really interesting career with Portland, since signing with Portland out of Minot, North Dakota. He struggled with injuries and the speed of the WHL game, early in his Junior career, but utilized his late birthday and his team's late, post-season run, to get drafted by San Jose in the third round of the 2014 NHL draft.

Schoenborn has been Portland's most consistent forward this year, no doubt driven by the need to earn a contract with San Jose, before he would become a free agent in June. His effort level has always been his best attribute in Portland and it is so great to see his talent level finally start catching up.

Unrelated to the signing, but one does have to think that Keegan Iverson is destined to become a free agent after this season is over. He had 42 points, during his 17-year-old season in 2013/14 and that fell to 39 points in 2014/15 and only 27 points, so far this year. He will need a great playoff run, in order for the N.Y. Rangers to consider signing him to an NHL Entry Level Contract.
Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Nino Niederreiter scored his 17th goal of the year and third this week. However, Minnesota could not stop much that New Jersey threw at them and they fell 7-4 to the Devils.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand made his NHL debut for the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night and fired one shot on net in over 16 minutes of time on ice.
-Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist for Nashville as the Predators took out the N.Y. Islanders 4-2.
-Brenden Moorow retired from the NHL. The former Winterhawk had a long, 16-year NHL career. He played 991 NHL games, notching 265 goals, 310 assists, for 375 points and added 1,362 penalty minutes. Morrow, while with Portland and the many years after, exemplified hard work, as most of his success was in the hardest areas on the ice to play in.
-Marian Hossa scored career goal number 498 and, though he is running out of games this year, there is still a good chance to hit 500 this season. The Blackhawks won 4-0 over Winnipeg.
Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Brendan Leipsic had a goal and an assist and the Toronto Marlies won in overtime 3-2 over Lehigh Valley.
-Ty Rattie is back to his old number eight jersey number and it started off great with two assists as Chicago beat Rockford 4-1.
-Rob Klinkhammer had a goal and an assist, as Bakersfield beat San Diego 7-5.
-Tyler Wotherspoon notched an assist for Stockton in their 5-1 win over Iowa.

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