Monday, December 5, 2016

Lee leads Ice past Winterhawks 3-2

In order to keep the Portland Winterhawks and Trail Blazers' games apart from one another this year, some Hawks games were moved to 2pm starts. This was the case Saturday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Despite Kootenay playing an overtime game in Kent and Portland playing in Kennewick the night before, they were scheduled to play an early afternoon game. Overage goalie Payton Lee was the freshest Ice player and he looked it, turning away 55 of 57 shots helping the Ice steal a game from Portland. After two periods, Portland had fired 42 shots on Lee and had only beaten him once. Lee is one of the goalies in the WHL that Portland has sen a whole lot of. His career record vs. Portland is 3-9-0-1 now, but he has not faced them since he played for Vancouver two years ago.

Th first period was a horror show for the Hawks as they peppered Lee with 2 shots, but somehow came out of the period down 2-0. The Ice started the scoring by taking advantage of a Portland turnover. Conor MacEachern, under pressure by Matt Alfaro, tried a pass across the front of his own net that kicked off Alfaro's skate. The overage Ice center jumped on the loose puck and fed Vince Loschiavo in front. The 18-year-old forward potted the goal for his second in two games. Then, later in the first after Alex Overhardt collided with Lee in the crease, the Ice were awarded a power play. Kootenay took advantage as Alfaro did a good job of getting a shot on net through traffic and defenseman Dallas Hines poked home the rebound. To recap, the Ice were out shot 20-11, but came away with a two-goal lead.

Things would get worse before they would get better for the Winterhawks in the second period. A loose puck came along the side boards in the neutral zone and Skyler McKenzie, who is normally quite adept in this area on the ice, could not corral the puck. Sergey Zbrosoky peeled the puck off the boards and skated in a two-on-one. He picked a spot right above Portland goalie Cole Kehler's blocker and put in his 21st goal on the season. Portland would finally get a shot past Lee with just 3:51 left in the second. After Caleb Jones drew a penalty, the Portland power play cashed in. After Cody Glass won a draw in the Ice zone, Joachim Blichfeld got the puck back to Jones for a point shot. Lee made the right pad save, but Keegan Iverson made a slick move, kicking the puck to his stick in order to backhand his shot past the goalie. The Ice entered the game's final frame up by two goals.

Portland continued the pressure in the third period, getting a lot of good looks. However, they would only get one more shot past Lee, which was not quite enough. With Kehler pulled for an extra attacker and the Hawks on the power play, Henri Jokiharju skated one-on-four into the Ice zone and sniped a shot past Lee from just inside the blue line. More chances would follow, but this afternoon was all about the 20-year-old, Cranbrook, B.C. native in net for the Ice.

Kehler was handed his first loss in seven starts as he stopped only 21 of 24 shots. The Hawks' power play was 2/8, while the Ice PP went 1/3.

Game Notes:
-Cody Glass came oh so close to extending his point streak to eight games on the Iverson goal. Unfortunately, Blichfeld played the puck back to Jones, giving him the secondary assist.
-After Iverson's seven game point streak was snapped last week, he has another streak going. A goal gives him points in three straight.
-Another goal for Jokiahrju. Over his first 25 WHL game,s he had just one goal. In his next four games, he has three.
-The penalty that was called on Overhardt and led to the Ice's game-winning-goal, was a controversial one. Overhardt appeared to be checked into the Ice goalie after the whistle was blown. However, Overhardt was the second man to skate right up in Lee's face and it was well after the play was dead. Despite these factors though, this call does not get made very often.
-After centering Ryan Hughes and Evan Weinger for the last couple of games Joachim Blichfeld over to the wing with Overhardt and Colton Veloso.
-Brad Ginnell was scratched and his absence was somewhat noticeable. Despite only having three points this year, Ginnell seems to be growing in confidence offensively. He has several quality scoring chances each game and is becoming a better puck-possession player in the opponent's zone. I think Portland's best lineup has him in the top-nine, which is high praise for a 16-year-old.
-Next up for Portland is Sunday evening, at home vs. Medicine Hat.

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