Thursday, October 13, 2016

Caleb Jones and Winterhawks turn out the lights on the Pats 5-4 in overtime

Wild end-to-end games and the Portland Winterhawks seem to be going hand in hand this year. Especially on an East Division road trip that concluded Wednesday night with a 5-4 overtime win for the Hawks. Caleb Jones got the overtime winner for Portland, which is his third in two seasons for Portland. He seems made for the three-on-three overtime as he is one of the better offensive d-men in the WHL and isn't afraid to jump into the play and take chances.. The Hawks and Pats played a back-and-forth game that saw the teams trades 103 total shots. Amidst the shooting galleries, were some after the whistle shenanigans and two different accidental shutting off of the Brandt Centre's lights.

The Pats and Winterhawks had a combined five power plays and traded 14 shots apiece, but both Michael Bullion for Portland and Tyler Brown for Regina refused to yield any goals.

The goose egg for Portland was broken 5:40 into the second period off a great play by Joachim Blichfeld. The Danish import was in his own end, in the corner and he smartly lobbed the puck off of the glass and out to center. This set up a two-on-one rush for Lane Gilliss and Bronson Sharp. Gilliss looked off Tyler Brown, convincing him he would pass, before slipping the puck through Brown's five-hole. This was Gilliss' third goal in four games. Since moving between Ryan Hughes and Evan Weinger, Gilliss has five points in as many games. That Pats tied the game very late in the second on a smart play by Adam Brooks. The WHL points leader for the 2015-16 season, collected the rebound of a Jake Leschshyn shot and spun around to get a forehand shot past Bullion. Just like the previous night when Reid Duke scored against Portland in his first game back from professional training camp, Adam Brooks did as well.

The third period was where things got wild Wednesday night. The two teams traded four goals in less than three minutes and six overall. Portland opened the period's scoring when Ryan Hughes slipped past James Hilsendager along the right wing boards and forced Brown to make a save. Brown also stopped Gilliss' rebound chance, but could not turn away Evan Weinger's follow up chance. Just 32 seconds later, Portland made it 3-1. Brad Ginnell won a puck battle in the Regina zone and fed an onrushing Colton Veloso. The 19-year-old right wing's first try was stopped, but he poked home his own rebound. This was Veloso's fourth goal of the year.

Regina responded 34 seconds after that as a point shot from Sergey Zborovskiy was intercepted by. Adam Brooks who backhanded a shot into the open part of the net for his second of the night. Bullion was heavily screened on the play and was expecting a straight shot on net. Then on the power play, Filip Ahl dug the puck out of Bullions' glove and Anaheim Duck's prospect Sam Steel slammed home the rebound. Regina took their first lead of the game with 9:48 left off another point shot from Hobbs. Bullion's glove, once again, could not contain the puck and Ahl put home the rebound himself this time. Regina appeared to be clamping down late in the period, holding a 4-3 lead, but one sequence changed all of that. Joachim Blichfeld drove through the neutral zone and forced a stick-less Ahl to hold him. After the whistle blew for the penalty, Rykr Cole and Evan WEinger came together and both fell to the ice. Carter Czaikowski took exception, apparently believing it was an intentional kneeing hit by Cole. Connor Hobbs then tackled Czaikowski from behind and took him to the ice in a headlock. His actions set Portland up with a five-on-three power play with 4:40 left in the game.

They converted after Caleb Jones set up Keoni Texeira with room for a slap shot and the d-man wired a shot past Brown's glove. Texeira now has four power play goals and five total. Texeira's key goal set up overtime, where both teams continued to trade chances. After Riley Woods missed the net short-side on one end in over time, Caleb Jones collected the puck and had a two-on-one with Blichfeld. He waited until he got very close to the net, before beating Brown to win the game.

Bullion's athleticism was again on display as he stopped 48 of the 52 shots he faced. He made another highlight-reel stop in this game, as he dove to his left and made an excellent toe save. he was seemingly way out of position on the play. Bullion is an extremely athletic goalie, but this sometimes gets him into trouble, as evidenced by a couple of Regina's goals. Brown turned away 46 of 51 or Regina.

Portland's power play again found the net and was 1/5 overall. They are now 16/43 on the season for 37.2 percent. Regina was 2/5 on their man-advantages.

Game Notes:
-Colton Veloso was moved down to the fourth line with Jake Gricius and Brad Ginnell. Brosnon Sharp drew into the lineup and played on Portland's third line with Alex Overhardt and Joachim Blichfeld. Veloso responded with a goal and now has six points in 10 games. I don't think this was a demotion, but was more of an attempt to look for some more chemistry in the bottom-six.
-Sharp also saw some power play time in an increased role.
-Another lineup note was the increased playing time for Carter Czaikowski. The defenseman was essentially the team's fourth d-man, after spending most of the year as their clear number five guy. This increased time could also be because of Portland playing six games in just eight days.
-Besides the Czaikowski, Hobbs dust up, there was another interesting interaction after the whistle. This was when Skyler McKenzie checked Adam Brooks after the whistle and the two traded some checks. McKenzie appeared to throw the check because Brooks was heading right for an ill-prepared Keegan Iverson well after the whistle. The play by McKenzie handed Regina a power play. Iverson had upset the Pats after throwing a huge open-ice check on Hilsendager, right before the defenseman received a pass. While the check didn't hit Hilsendager's head, it caught him by surprise and appeared to injure him.
-Portland finished the East Division trip with a 4-2 record and is now 5-2 on their eight-game road trip. The trip concludes with a game on Saturday in Spokane.
-Portland now has the 1-2-3 leading scorers in the WHL now as Ryan Hughes had two points. He now has 13 points and is three points behind Cody Glass. Skyler McKenzie has 12 points and is third in the WHL (tied with four others).

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