Sunday, November 6, 2016

Parenteau turns in a gem with 44 saves and Tri-City beats Portland 3-2

Overage goalie Rylan Parenteau can claim credit for half of the Portland losses on their current losing skid. He seems to have a little extra to prove every time he takes the ice vs. Portland. The Winterhawks are the team that he gave up four goals in 33:17 of game time, while still with the Prince Albert Raiders. This outing helped signify that he would be the overage getting traded out of town. Just like that, Parenteau was removed from the only WHL team he'd ever played for and a team he played parts of five seasons with.

So if he saw those Winterhawks' sweaters across the way from him and felt a little bitter about it, he could be forgiven. Instead of just feeling upset though, he has taken sweet vengeance on the Hawks four straight times. Over those four games, he has stopped a total of 143 of the 154 shots he's faced for a 0.929 save percentage. In his other five outings against other WHL teams, while with Tri-City, he gave up four or more goals all but one time and has earned only a single win.

More than just stopping so many shots vs. Portland though, he's made countless big saves in the late stages of the game, while his team clung to a one-goal lead. That was the case again Sunday night in Portland. Parenteau stopped 44 of 46 shots, including two in  desperate scramble in the final seconds. It doesn't get any closer than that for Portland and it doesn't get any more clutch than that for Parenteau.

This loss hurt more than most for Portland on the streak, as they had a two-goal lead early. The Americans scored three straight and got points from eight different players in coming back to win.

Portland jumped out to their lead just 5:45 into the game. Kenoi Texeira fed a great saucer pass to Jake Gricius on the rush and Portland's rookie center beat Parenteau up high for his second of the season. The rush was set up by a nifty pass off the boards by Lane Gilliss. Portland added a goal later in the first when a pass went behind Evan Weinger near the blue line and he spun around, one-timing it towards the net. Ryan Hughes never hesitated, driving the net and getting a stick on the shot, deftly deflecting the puck past Parenteau and giving Portland the 2-0 lead.

Tri-City started their comeback in the second period after Parenteau kicked out a huge rebound on a point shot from Conor MacEachern, starting a rush the other way. Morgan Geekie drove wide past rookie d-man Matthew Quigley and flipped a pass back door for Kyle Olson. The 17-year-old winger buried it for his sixth goal this season. Portland had a golden chance to retake their two-goal lead, when Parker AuCoin turned the puck over right in front of the Americans' net, but despite getting two "grade A" looks, Portland came up empty.

That would be unfortunate for the Hawks, as their lead completely disappeared 5:25 into the third period, thanks to a familiar face. While on the power play, Tyler Sandhu made a great play along the boards getting the puck to Vladislav Lukin, The Russian import, fired a pass across the crease to Michael Rasmussen and the big forward buried it. The Hawks responded to the tying goal with some of their best recent play, dominating possession through three different lien changes and getting countless good looks at the net behind Parenteau. The Americans' goalie did just enough to keep them at bay though, until the mid-period break let his team gather itself. Right off the puck-drop when play resumed, Tri-City scored the game-winning-goal. Matthew Quigley jumped up to the blue line on Nolan Yaremko, allowing a passing lane to Parker AuCoin in behind him. AuCoin finished off the two-on-one rush with a shot over goalie Cole Kehler's shoulder. Portland pulled Kehler late and got a power play, setting up a six-on-four advantage, but could not find loose pucks around the net with Parenteau out of position and yet again could not force overtime.

Cole Kehler faced 31 shots at the other end, stopping 28 of them. On four power play chances, Portland failed to score, dropping their PP percentage down to 26.6. Tri-City converted one of the three chances they got on the PP.

Game Notes:
-Tri-City leads the 10-game season series 4-1 now.
-Glass got an assist on Portland's second goal and is now tied for fourth with Medicine Hat's Chad Butcher in WHL scoring with 25 points.
-With his 16th goal this year, Michael Rasmussen now has a two-goal lead over Sam Steel for tops in the WHL. How he was left off the Team WHL roster is puzzling to me. He is a big-bodied forward, who has an unbelievable knack for knowing exactly where the puck is going and getting there first. His touch in tight around the net is one of the best in the WHL. Yes, he's only 17, but he is proving he can dominate against players up to three-years older already in the WHL this year.
-After a hot start, Keoni Texeira had only two points over his last nine games, before adding one Sunday night.
-Caleb Jones is second-to-last in WHL plus/minus this season with a minus-14. No other Winterhawk is worse than minus-eight.
-With all of the talk of Michael Rasmussen, two other draft-eligible Americans have slipped under the radar. Parker AuCoin has 17 points in 19 games, while Kyle Olson has 18 in that same span. The youth is really driving the ship offensively for Tri-City, giving them the depth needed to contend earlier than expected.
-Quigley and MacEachern were both out there together on two of the three Tri-City goals. I'm all for having a regular third-defensive pairing, but both Quigley and MacEachern have not been in the lineup together all season, so they are not used to playing together at all. If they really wanted to get them both in the game, they should have mixed and matched them with the other four d-men.
-Portland will have to wait until next Friday to put an end to this streak. They take on Everett at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The WHL in fact, will not have any games until Thursday, as Team WHL takes on Team Russia in Prince George Monday and Edmonton Tuesday.
-Portland again mixed the lines with Cody Glass leaving Skyler McKenzie and Joachim Blichfeld for Ryan Hughes and Evan Weinger. Ilijah Colina took Glass' place. Lane Gilliss, Jake Gricius and Ty Kolle played together on the fourth line and generated the most possession time from the fourth line throughout this entire skid. I would like to see them keep this unit together.

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