Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winterhawks jump out to huge lead and then hang on 6-4 vs. Blazers

The Portland Winterhawks attached themselves to the rising star that is Cody Glass Tuesday night at the Mode Center and he did the rest. He was all over the place early getting in on all fur first-period goals which staked the Hawks to a 4-0 lead. He added a third-period goal that helped ice the game as his team's lead had dwindled all the way down to one at 5-4. Glass's five point effort is his second this year as he had a natural first period hat trick and two assists back on November 12th vs. Calgary. That game was also at the Mode Center. Glass, who is in his draft year has been one of the more consistently rising NHL draft prospects this season. He went from getting cut from Canada's U-18 Ivan Hlinka team to being ranked number eight among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's rankings and fourth overall by Red Line Report this season. Shane Farkas earned his first career WHL win as he held up under immense pressure, stopping 39 of 43 total shots. Joachim Blichfeld and Keoni Texeira each chipped in two points for Portland while Kamloops was led by Rudolfs Balcers's two goals and Garrett Pilon's goal and assist.

Portland got things going early as they controlled play in the Kamloops zone and broke through against Connor Ingram. The Kamloops netminder was a career 6-0-1 vs. Portland coming in but would not make it out of the first period Tuesday night. Glass got things going by digging the puck out from the corner and driving the net, getting a tight shot/pass in on Ingram. The puck came right to Joachim Blichfeld who buried it past the Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick. Glass was expertly playing the angle and using the Blazers' goalie to get the puck to his tightly covered teammate. Caleb Jones then drove the Kamloops zone and got a shot on that came out right to Glass over to Ingram's right. Glass waited patiently and then fired a pass across to Skyler McKenzie for the tip-in goal at the back door. The goal was McKenzie's 30th this season. 28 seconds later Portland made it 3-0. Keoni Texeira made an impressive outlet pass from behind his own goal line all the way to Evan Weinger at the Kamloops blue line. The pass caught Weinger in stride in behind the Kamloops defense. Weinger shielded off d-man Luke Zazula and the  roofed a backhand shot past a poke-checking Ingram for his 13th goal of the year. Portland finished off their first period barrage with a goal from Glass while the teams were playing four aside. Glass and Texeira broke out of the zone and Glass had everyone in the arena thinking he was going to pass to the d-man until he used his hard and quick release to drill a s hot past Ingram at the far post. Glass's goal ended Ingram's night after he gave up four goals on 13 shots.

Portland greeted back up goalie Dylan Ferguson with another goal for the 5-0 lead just 23 seconds into the second period. Colton Veloso chipped the puck past a Kamloops blue liner and broke out on a two-on-one with Ryan Hughes. The 19-year-old forward saucered a pass over to Hughes and the diminutive winger beat Ferguson. The goal was Hughes's 20th of the year. Halfway through the game, the Blazwers finally beat Portland's rookie netminder. First, with Jermaine Loewen providing a screen Nolan Kneen's shot rebounded right to Luc Smith in front. The former Regina Pat buried it past Farkas for his eighth of the 2016-17 campaign. Then, Kamloops won a battle off an offensive face off and Jackson Shepard made a nice feed to Garrett Pilon right in the slot. He fnsihed it off to make the game 5-2 after 40 minutes.

Kamloops used a strong penalty kill midway through the third period to cut into the Portland lead by one more. Pilon danced laterally away from Brett Clayton in the Hawks' zone and fired a shot towards the net that was expertly tipped past Farkas by Rudolfs Balcers. With 6:44 left, the Blazers got within striking distance of the Winterhawks with a nice backhand feed right to Balcers with Caleb Jones closing in. Balcers's quick shot got right past Farkas and it was 5-4 Portland with plenty of time left. Balcers and co. created more opportunities but Farkas and the Portland defense held just strong enough. Ryan Hughes drew a penalty on Deven Sideroff with 3:25 left in the game, giving Glass the chance to add some much needed insurance. Joachim Blichfeld picked Nolan Kneen's pocket behind the goal line and fed Glass alone in front. He dangled away from an aggressive Ferguson and slipped a backhand past him for his 23rd on the year. Kamloops pulled Ferguson for an extra attacker but with Farkas perfectly positioning himself and Portland keeping everything to the outside, they failed to get much generated towards the Portland net. The 6-4 win ended Portland's five game losing streak.

Portland's power play went 1/4 while Kamloops's went 0/3. Dylan Ferguson stopped 27 of 29 in relief.

Game Notes:
-Brett Clayton returned to the Portland lineup after missing the last seven games with an injury.
-Overage d-man Shaun Dosanjh played most of the game at forward.
-Conor MacEachern and Jackson Shepard drop gloves in the first period. This was the d-man's first fight since December ninth vs. Victoria.
-The Winterhawks defense as a group are getting really good at closing and attacking puck instead of the player. This keeps odd-man rushes from turning into prime scoring chances. They still have a long way to go, but it's a good thing to see for the Hawks.
-Glass hit the under side of the cross bar in the first period. This was his second cross bar in two games.
-Too many men on the ice penalty negated 1:03 of PP time for Kamloops and opened the door for the third Portland goal.
-Nic Holowko made an incredible play as the puck rolled behind Ingram. He cleared the shot off the line just in time.
-Ferguson made a highlight reel save in the game as he got turned around facing into his goal and still kicked out his right pad, stoning a wide open Hughes. Ferguson's recent play has created the whisperings of a goaltending controversy.
-Glass's five points get him up to 64 in 46 games. He is tied for seventh in the league in scoring with Moose Jaw's Brayden Burke. Glass is the highest 1999-born scoring player in the league by three points over Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi.
-Portland next plays in Everett on Friday.
-Spokane just missed beating Seattle in overtime as Rylan Toth's desperate poke check sent the T-birds the other way on a three-on-one that was finished off by Austin Strand for the 3-2 OT win. The Chiefs get one point in the loss meaning they are now one point behind Portland for the last playoff spot out west with the Hawks having one game in hand.

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