Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blichfeld beats the clock as Portland edges Kelowna 5-4

Kelowna was that inner demon that Portland struggled to tame. The team that played the same way they did had won seven straight regular season games going into Saturday night's game in Kelowna. Danish import Joachim Blichfeld deflected home a shot from Brendan De Jong with four seconds left to give Portland their third straight win. The Winterhawks got three point nights from Skyler McKenzie and Blichfeld  in the win. The win was not easy one as they had to come back from a 4-1 second period deficit with four straight goals.

Kelowna opened the scoring with a power play goal. Tomas Soustal drew the attention of the Portland defense before feeding Nick Merkley in the slot for a slap shot. The Arizona Coyotes' draft pick buried it past Portland goalie Shane Farkas to get things going. Portland tied the game with a power play goal of their own. Blichfeld slid a back door feed over to McKenzie and Kelowna goalie Michael Herringer overplayed it. McKenzie tried to get it over to Colton Veloso. The puck ened up bouncing to him and he put it in for his 12th of the year. The 12 goals is a career high for the Winnipeg native. Kelowna went on a roll and ended the first period with a 3-1 lead. The Rockets took the lead as Rodney Southam drove the zone and found d-man Gordie Ballhorn in space. He backhanded a shot through the wickets of Farkas. 49 seconds later the Rockets made it a two-goal lead off a bad turnover by overage blue liner Shaun Dosanjh. Merkley intercepted a pass and got Dosanjh down before slipping a pass over to Kyle Topping. The rookie forward finished it off for his 10th goal of the year.

Things seemed dire for the Winterhawks in the second period as Reid Gardiner gave the Rockets a 4-1 lead. Merkley held up at the blue line and found Reid Gardiner across the ice. Gardiner went forehand backhand before roofing it on Farkas. Just over eight minutes into the second, Portland ate into the lead on a goal from Skyler McKenzie. On the power play, Blichfeld used his backhand to get himself room and then fires a pass across to McKenzie. He settled it and then buried it for his 31st of the year. The Hawks made it a one-goal lead before the second was over. Defenseman Matt Quigley threw a  fantastic breakout pass that found Evan Weinger in alone. He faked a shot and sends it over to Ryan Hughes who buried it.

Portland tied the game in the third period with 7:09 left. Rookie Jack Cowell turned the puck over up the middle. Jake Gricius's first shot was blocked and he was able to put in the rebound. Then with just four seconds remaining on the game clock, Blichfeld scored the winner. Skyler McKenzie won an important battle and dropped a pass off to Brendan De Jong. The lanky d-man's shot from the point was tipped in by Blichfeld.

Shane Farkas got his second win of his career by stopping 31 of the 35 shots he faced. Michael Herringer went 31 of 36 in the loss.

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