Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hughes three times the game-winner as Portland edges Vancouver in overtime 5-4

Despite being eliminated from the playoffs and missing several key cogs off their roster, the Vancouver Giants did not give up Friday night in Portland. After falling behind 4-2 with 3:23 to play in the third period they scored twice in the final 1:20 to tie the game up and force overtime. Once in the extra session though, the youthful Giants' squad got treated to what five years of WHL experience (with a WHL title in there) does for you. Keegan Iverson could not be moved off the puck and he set up Ryan Hughes for the overtime winner. This was Hughes's third overtime winner of the year. This ties him for most in a season in franchise history with Dennis Holland and Darrell May Jr. Keegan Iverson, Cody Glass and Skyler McKenzie led the way with two points apiece. Ty Ronning and former Winterhawks Jack Flaman each had two points for Vancouver.

Neither team could hit twine in the first period in spite of many great chances. The biggest one was likely a very nice Skyler McKenzie pass that just missed Keegan Iverson's stick at the back door with Vancouver goalie David Tendeck well out of the net. There was some fisticuffs in the opening session though as Alex Overhardt stepped to Johnny Wesley after the latter had destroyed Ryan Hughes with a big hit.

The fans finally got to cheer a goal just 47 seconds into the second period. This time he made the most of a pass that did not connect to him. He collected the puck, spun off the wall and faked a slap shot, before moving to his right and beating Tendeck with a shot to the blocker-side. New York rangers' prospect Ty Ronning got that goal back off an excellent stretch feed form Ryan Jones. The second-year blue liner timed a pass to the diminutive Ronning and Portland d-man Brendan De Jong could not quite get the inside positioning on Ronning. The son of the former Vancouver Canuck Cliff then beat Portland goalie Cole Kehler with a hard backhand shot for his 24th goal of the season. The Giants then took the upper hand as overage forward Calvin Spencer juggled the puck on the rush before settling it down and feeding Jack Flaman for a one-timer. Before we would reach the third period though, Portland would not only tie the game, but take a 3-2 lead. First, with 9:10 left in the period, Sklyer McKeznie displayed incredible patience; waiting for Alex Overhardt to screen Tendeck just enough for him to slip a shot into a top corner. The goal was McKenzie's 37th of the year and was netted on the power play. Then, Brad Ginnell gave Portland the lead back. His initial shot went off the back boards in behind the net, but the puck caromed back out to Colton Veloso. The gritty forward then got his shot in net and Ginnell directed home the rebound. The goal was Ginnell's sixth during his 16-year-old campaign.

Portland looked for more insurance but Tendeck rose to the occasion, keeping the Hawks at bay. That was until Joachim Blichfeld forced a turnover and Matt Revel scooped the puck up and beat Tendeck before he could get settled. The put the Hawks up 4-2, but the game was far from over. Jack Flaman was the first player to a loose puck in the Portland zone and then Johnny Wesley retrieved a pass from Flaman before feeding the pinching down Jordan Wharrie. Kehler as not ready for the activated blue liner and he beat the goalie for his fourth of the year. The Giants then tied the game with just 42 seconds left, ensuring they would get at least a point out of the game. 15-year-old d-man Bowen Byram made an excellent play keeping the puck in the Portland zone and was responsible for the ensuing goal, even though he will not get a point for it. Jordan Borstmayer put home the rebound of a Ty Ronning shot and the game was sent to overtime.

Though the Giants had some chances, Portland's captain was just unwilling for the Hawks to give up the extra point. He blocked a Byram shot at his own blue line and then held off the young blue liner the whole way down the ice, before softly dropping a pass to Ryan Hughes. The creative winger could not get a hold of the puck cleanly but got enough on it to slip it through Tendeck's pads and win the game.

Cole Kehler back-stopped the Hawks to the win by turning away 27 of 31 shots. David Tendeck gave up five goals on 42 shots at the other end.
Game Notes:
-Evan Weinger is out day-to-day with an upper body injury.
-Matt Revel was moved between Colton Veloso and Brad Ginnell and the line was an immediate success. Both Ginnell and Revel netted markers and Veloso had an assist.
-The Giants and Winterhawks are at it again Saturday night for the last of the four-game season series. Portland is now up 2-1.

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