Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Winterhawks fall to Americans 4-3 yet again

Portland valiantly came back from a 3-1 deficit to Tri-City, only to give up a late third period goal in falling to the Americans by a 4-3 score. This only a week after falling to them by the same exact score. Portland took the opening game in the series, so T.C. has a 2-1 series lead. Vladislav Lukin led the way with two goals for T.C., while Parker AuCoin and Juuso Valimaki each had two points. Cody Glass had two more points in the loss.

Tri-City opened the scoring Tuesday off one of the stranger gaffes you will see in hockey. Portland forced play deep into the Americans' zone and started to change lines. However, only one member of Portland's fourth line made their way onto the ice, leaving them two men down. Off the rush the other way AuCoin's shot was partially saved by Portland goalie Cole Kehler and landed on top of the net. AuCoin deftly grabbed the puck off the top of the net and got it back into play. An ensuing shot from Juuso Valimaki was flubbed and went off to the right off Kehler. Defenseman turned forward Kurtis Rutledge won a battle with Caleb Jones to the loose puck and bounced a shot off of Kehler and in. Portland tied the game less than two minutes later on the power play. They scored their goal when Cody Glass' shot bounced off of Keegan Iverson once and twice more off Dylan Coghlan before it went past Tri-City goalie Rylan Parenteau and in.

Portland carried the momentum of their first goal of the game into the second and had several good looks that Parenteau turned away. Their momentum was halted when a rush up the ice forced Caleb Jones to take a hooking penalty, putting Portland short handed. While on the penalty kill, Keoni Texeira jumped up into the neutral zone and was caught, freeing the Americans to create a tic-tac-toe passing play that ended with Lukin burying a pass from Michael Rasmussen. They added to their lead when both of Portland's d-men were caught inside the Americans' zone, giving Tri-City a two-on-zero rush. Parker AuCoin easily buried a pass from Nolan Yaremeko, swiftly putting the Hawks down two in the span of 37 seconds. Slowly but surely Portland started gaining control late in the second and they took advantage off a fantastic deflection of a Ryan Hughes shot and past Parenteau. The goalie almost had the puck in his glove before Weinger got his stick on it.

Portland finished what they started early in the third period, as whole playing four-on-four, Henri Jokiharju made a heads-up pass across the T.C. blue line to Brendan De Jong. The lanky d-man looked to shoot, drawing Parenteau out, before feeding an onrushing Cody Glass for the one-timer. This knotted the game at three with 17:23 left in regulation. From this point the U.S. Division rivals traded chances before the Americans scored on another broken play. Juuso Valimaki's shot from just outside the left face off dot was blocked by Caleb Jones but Portland's d-man could not corral the puck and Valimaki won the battle to the biscuit, quickly feeding Vladislav Lukin alone in front for the eventual game-winning-goal. Portland pulled Kehler for an extra-attacker late and had some looks, but could not solve the Americans' overage goalie.

Parenteau stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in his second straight win over Portland. Kehler and Portland dropped their third straight game. He stopped 27 of 31 in the loss.

Portland found the net on the power play yet again, going 1/3 overall. T.C. went 1/5. Portland's PP is now 19/56 for 33.9 percent and first in the WHL. Portland's penalty kill is now 54/65 for
83.1 percent. This is sixth place in the league.

Game Notes:
-With two points, Glass retook second place in the WHL in points with 21. This is two behind Medicine Hat's Mason Shaw.
-De Jong's assist gives him six points on the young season. This is just two short of his entire total for last year.
-Portland appeared to be targeting top draft prospect Michael Rasmussen early and often. He took a hard check on the side from Keegan Iverson that sent him awkwardly into the boards head-first. The physical play did seem to have the desired effect as his body language gave away that he was frustrated. He ended up with one point, which is an off night for him.
-The defensive side of Henri Jokihrju's play continues to develop. He made two stunning plays in his own zone in the first period. First he expertly tied up the stick of Nolan Yaremko just as a pass came screaming by. Then he laid down to block Tyler Sandhu's shot as Kehler was still on the other side of the net and the net was vacant.
-Lane Gilliss was scratched as Ilijah Colina was given another opportunity to play between Evan Weinger and Ryan Hughes. The 16-year-old made a nice read on one play, gettign behind the defense and nearly beating Parenteau on one sequence.
-That line is an intriguing one as they can go quiet for most of the night, before very quickly scoring on a play that looked to be non-threatening. This was the case on Weinger's goal.
-For the second straight game, the game may've hinged on muscling in for a loose puck in front of an open net with the goalie out of position. This time it was Skyler McKenzie who could not quite get his stick on the loose puck as Parenteau was out of commission. If he had score,d it would have given Portland the 4-3 lead.
-Mike Johnston and co. are still willing to mess with the power play. They used Keoni Texeira as the net-front forward at one point and experimented with Ryan Hughes in place of Joachim Blichfeld on the left point at another.
-Portland's next game is Saturday vs. Kelowna. They play two straight at home vs. the Rockets to close out the week.

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