Monday, December 12, 2016

Ryan Hughes plays overtime hero in 5-4 win over Victoria

The Portland Winterhawks appear to have found their next clutch goal-scorer in 17-year-old Edmonton native Ryan Hughes. On Friday night at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum he completed a comeback for the Hawks with the game-winning-goal at 4:05 mark of the five-minute OT. Giving them a 5-4 win over the visiting Victoria Royals. Over the last 10 games, Hughes has two OT winners and five game-winning-goals overall. Not bad considering Hughes had no game winners over his first 21 games this season. Offensively the Hawks were led by Caleb Jones and Cody Glass, who both had three points.

Portland opened the scoring on an incredibly smart play by Cody Glass. The Winterhawks were changing lines and Glass controlled the puck near Victoria blue line. He waited until Lane Gilliss and Brett Clayton were in front of the net, before firing a shot/pass towards the Royals' net. Clayton got a stick on the shot, tipping it past Victoria goalie Griffen Outhouse. The goal was Clayton's first this year and just his second career goal. L.A. Kings' prospect Chaz Reddekopp made an incredible dash up the ice to tie the game while on the power play. He dished a pass along the right wing, before driving the net, receiving a pass and roofing a shot in tight on Portland goalie Cole Kehler. The defenseman is known more for his size than his skill, but he showed that there is more to his game in that highlight-reel play. The Hawks regained the lead with another late-period goal. After a Portland one-timer missed the net, Keoni Texeira tracked down the ricochet and fired a brilliant pass down to the right face off circle, where Colton Veloso one-touched a shot past Outhouse. Texeira did a great job of getting Outhouse and the rest of the Royals thinking shot, before finding Veloso. The 19-year-old from Winnipeg also did a great job, by anticipating the pass and opening up his frame, so that he could get a good forehand shot towards the net.

Just 30 seconds into the second period, the Winterhawks made it 3-1. While on the power play, Joachim Blichfeld showcased his great vision by selling the fact he was going to shoot, before throwing a cross-ice pass onto Cody Glass's stick tape. Portland's leading scorer buried it for the two-goal lead. The Royals and Matthew Phillips specifically were not about to go away quietly into the night though. They scored three straight over the next 26 minutes of game action. Just 27 seconds after Glass's goal, Phillips flew up the ice, driving wide past Portland's defense and found linemate Dante Hannoun back door for the tip-in goal. Phillips is one of the speedier guys in the league, as was evident on this goal. Phillips set up the game-tying goal with another asset: creativity. He spun around in the Portland zone and fired off a slick backhand pass to Ryan Peckford. The 17-year-old fired it into the body of Cole Kehler, but got enough on the shot, that it squeezed through Kehler's body and over the line.

Victoria completed their comeback in the third period after taking advantage of a bad line change by Portland. The Royals attacked the reeling Winterhawks and Jack Walker found Reagan Nagy for a tip-in goal at the 5:52 mark of the period. Speed was again on display for the Royals and the Hawks were not ready for it. Kehler helped give his team a chance to tie it with two different big stops on Matthew Phillips on clear breakaways. His team wouldn't disappoint him as Henri Jokiharju knotted the score with just 54 seconds left. With Kehler pulled for an extra-attacker, Caleb Jones flipped a nifty pass over to Jokiharju at the other point and the Finnish blue liner blew a slap shot past Outhouse, sending the game to overtime.

Both teams had good looks to win the game in the extra session, but it would be Hughes that would give his squad the extra point. After corralling the puck along the right side-bards, Hughes used his body to keep Victoria d-man Ralph Jarratt off the puck, while driving towards the middle of the ice. He then fired a hard wrist shot over Outhouse's glove for the win.

Kehler turned away 33 of 37 shots in getting his 14th win. He had four total WHL wins coming into this year. Outhouse stopped 46 of 51 shots and has stopped 85 of 93 shots in his two games vs. Portland this year. That's a whole lot of rubber.

Portland's power play went 1-2, while Victoria's went 1-5.

Game Notes:
-Brett Clayton has been a different player since returning to the team in late November. He had zero points in three games before being reassigned to the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. Since his return, he has three points in 10 games. Outside of the points though, he has been more physical and has been an integral part of what has been a very good fourth line for Portland (along with Jake Gricius and Lane Gilliss).
-Matthew Phillips had an incredible game for the Royals, but has to be thinking about the two breakaways he couldn't score on that gave Portland a chance to tie the game. He was all over the ice; flying around and making plays. His previous outing in the Rose City left a lot to be desired as he took two poor penalties on Cody Glass.
-Nic Petan's cousin: Dante Hannoun had a goal and two assists and now has 32 points in 32 games. The five-foot-six winger has fit in well with Peckford and Phillips. Their line is full on speed and creativity.
-Jokigharju showed how hard and accurate his shot can be. If there was one thing, we were hearing he needed to work on this year, it was his slap shot. He relied heavily on getting wrist shots on  net from the point. If he can consistently get his slap shot on net, it will give Portland another weapon.

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