Friday, November 25, 2016

Winterhawks edge Royals 4-2 in Daylight Classic

The second period was again the strength for the Portland Winterhawks. Two nights after pumping 17 shots in the middle frame on Edmonton, they fired 19 on the the visiting Victoria Royals. Just like the game before, Portland scored the eventual game-winning-goal in the second. This gives Portland four wins in their last five games with points in each of them. Portland has been using the game's middle session to give themselves multi-goal leads and this is a major difference for them from their recent nine-game losing streak. During that streak, the Hawks could not seem to get more than a one-goal lead, which allowed their opponents the opportunity to come back and win. The Hawks were led by two goals from Skyler McKenzie and two assists from Keegan Iverson in the win.

Portland opened the scoring just 2:18 in the game with a goal from a depth forward. After defenseman Jake Hobson's shot was turned away by Victoria goalie Griffen Oouthouse, Lane Gilliss got two cracks at the rebound on Outhouse's left post, finally poking it through. The goal was his first since October 12th. Victoria got that goal back on a slick passing play. Spencer Gerth corralled the puck in the corner, quickly passing the puck near goalie Cole Kehler's right post, where Dante Hannoun one-touched a pass to Matthew Phillips in front. Phillips quickly put it away before Kehler could set himself. With just over a minute left in the period, the Hawks retook their one-goal lead after Cody Glass flipped a backhand pass from right at the side of the net to Skyler McKenzie. The winger slammed his shot past Outhouse to give Portland a 2-1 lead after one.

Portland again took the play to their opponent in the second, earning two power plays and using one to give themselves an insurance goal they would need. Just under a minute into the period, Colton Veloso tipped a point shot from Henri Jokiharju past Outhouse. This was the second straight game that Portland scored on a tipped shot from Jokiharju.

With Portland having the better of play, Victoria was given new life after Keoni Texeira delivered a high hit. Texeira was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. On the ensuing, long man-advantage, the Royals had several quality chances, but Kehler was in position to turn away all of them. The Royals finally cut the Portland lead to one on a later power play. Reagan Nagy cut to the middle, losing the puck and regaining it, before firing a shot over Kehler's blocker. Quality shot blocks kept the Royals from getting anymore great chances the rest of the way. The Hawks got a very late empty-net-goal on some extra effort from Skyler McKenzie. Keegan Iverson's shot went just wide of the net form his own zone, but McKenzie raced down to beat out the hybrid icing call and potted the empty-netter.

Kehler put together his second straight quality start, stopping 33 of the 35 shots he faced. The best of these was on a breakaway for Royals' sniper Jack Walker, that he flashed his glove on. Victoria's Griffen Outhouse stopped 39 of 42 shots at the other end.

The Wnterhawks had one goal on seven power play chances, while the Royals had one on six chances.

Game Notes:
-McKenzie has 10 points in his last five games and five in his last three. This recent run has launched him all the way up to ninth in the WHL scoring race with 31 points.
-Keegan Iverson has found his home as a set up guy on the top line. He has a recent run of three games with at least two assists. He also has a six-game point streak, during which he has 13 points.
-Brett Clayton got his first point of the season, in his second game back with the team. He assisted on Gilliss' first period goal.
-With Ilijah Colina and Alex Overhardt out, the Hawks have called up 15-year-old rookie Connor Bowie. He did not dress in the game, but is sure to use some of the five-games he can play in this year, during this call up.
-Cody Glass had one assist in the game but perhaps his biggest impact for me was with how much he frustrated Matthew Phillips. The Calgary Flames' prospect took two penalties in the neutral zone on Glass, trying to slow down the Hawks' center. Not only does this speak to how well Glass' line did at controlling play in the neutral zone, it kept the Royals' most dangerous player off of the ice four four minutes.
-Evan Weinger has become a great 200-foot player. When he first came to Portland, he was more of one-dimensional player. This has definitely changed as Weinger flies back on defense, using his speed to take away scoring looks at his own net. This was the case when he tied up the stick of Dante Hannoun, taking away a sure goal. His two-way play has earned him more time on the penalty kill.
-Victoria was missing their top center as Tyler Soy was out with a shoulder injury he suffered last weekend.
-Portland plays another day game on Sunday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum vs. the Prince George Cougars. Not only do they face the tough task of taking on the top team in the B.C. Division, they face the very real threat of being without one of their top d-men  due to suspension.

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