Monday, December 5, 2016

Winterhawks take latest in season series over Americans 5-2

In the first of three-game-in-three nights, the Portland Winterhawks rebounded from an early deficit and took down the Tri-City Americans 5-2. Despite Rylan Parenteau winning the last four Tri-City-Portland match ups, Evan Sarthou got the start and the streak was ended. Sarthou was not the only rare starter in net as Portland's Michael Bullion got the nod in net and was a key reason for three of Portland''s goals. The WHL schedule can be odd at times and Portland has taken on Tri-City seven out of their first 28 games, or 1/4 of their total games. The Americans lead the season series 4-3 now.

The Ams scored just 11 seconds into the game on a goal from Vladislav Lukin. Parker Wotherspoon drove into the Portland zone right off the face off and dropped a pass to Lukin. The Russian forward drove a shot that Portland goalie Cole Kehler could not quite stop. Before the period was over, the Hawks would not only get that goal back, but take a lead. Michael Bullion, who was getting his first start in nearly two weeks, was the unlikely igniter of the Hawks' first goal. He made a big pad save on a chance from Tyler Sandhu, starting a Portland rush the other way. Ryan Hughes fired an outlet pass to Evan Weinger, who got in alone on a breakaway. Weinger buried the opportunity to tie the game. Just over a minute later the Hawks took a lead on a goal from Colton Veloso. Caleb Jones drew the attention of the Tri-City defense and backhanded a pass to the front of the net where Veloso buried the puck past Sarthou.

Portland extended their lead to two just over four minutes into the second period from a recent source for goals either scored or assisted: Henri Jokiharju. Ryan Hughes and Joachim Blichfeld set up Jokiharju with a shot form the point that appeared to deflect off an American defender and in. Then, just over a minute later another Bullion save sparked an odd-man Portland rush the other way. Cody Glass found Keegan Iverson for a shot and Skyler McKenzie poked home the rebound to give Portland a 4-1 lead. 

Tri-City cut into the Portland lead 2:24 into the third period with a goal from top 2017 NHL draft prospect Michael Rasmussen. Parker Wotherspoon got his second assist of the game by firing a shot towards the net, that was deflected on net by Morgan Geekie. Bullion, stopped the Geekie chance but Rasmussen was there for the rebound. The Americans almost got within one but a shot that squeaked through Bullion but was pulled off the goal line by defenseman Caleb Jones. Joachim Blichfeld put the game away after Bullion kicked out another save that freed up Colton Veloso to get Blichfeld into space with a smart board pass. 

Michael Bullion earned his first win in nearly two months by making 26 saves on 28 shots. Sarthou has struggled in his three most recent outings including this one. He let in four goals on 25 shots.

Portland only earned one power play and was not able to convert on it. Tri-City meanwhile went 1/4. 

Game Notes:
-Alex Overhardt and Parker Wotherspoon had a couple tense exchanges, but the first one was a rather odd one. Wotherspoon dropped his glove,s but Overhardt did not on their initial dust up. As soon as they were out of their penalty boxes, the two, both dropped gloves and exchanged blows.
-Keoni Texeira quietly has blossomed into a shot down defenseman. He made an excellent play in breaking up a one-on-two sequence. Not only did he take away the pass, he kept the shot from the puck-carrier to one side of the net.
-Brett Clayton kept up his strong play since coming back to the Hawks. His defensive play has been superb and it was on display Friday night in Kennewick. He came back for the back-check and lifted the stick in a net fornt battle. This took away a prime scoring chance.
-Blichfeld could break 30 goals this year. While he is at 10, through 28 games, his quick release and growing comfort in Portland's system should increase his scoring opportunities.
-Next up for Portland is an early game Saturday vs. Kootenay. 

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