Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kehler finally solves Tri-City and Portland picks up a big 6-1 win

Tuesday night was about conquering demons for Portland Winterhawks' goalie Cole Kehler and his team. Kehler had struggled mightily in his first seven outings against the Tri-City Americans. Twice he was yanked from the net and he had not won a game since his first start as a Winterhawk back on September 25th. Over those seven games he sported a 4.83 GAA, well below his season average of 3.14. His team had also struggled, only beating the Americans three times in nine opportunities and only one of those three wins had been in Kennewick. Tuesday night, the Hawks stormed the Americans early, jumping out to a 3-0 first period, en route to a convincing 6-1 victory. Kehler turned away 35 of 36 shots and came close to his third career shutout. It just so happens that the win held extra meaning in terms of the standings as the Winterhawks extended their lead over the Americans to three points for the third seed in the U.S. Division. The Ams hold one game in hand on the Hawks. Offensively, Portland was led by two goals from Keegan Iverson and two assists from each of Ilijah Colina and Caleb Jones. Skyler McKenzie also added a goal and an assist. Iverson extended his point streak to 10 games.

Skyler McKenzie opened the scoring in the game with a move you usually see from a forward much larger than him. With Tri-City d-man Dylan Coghlan draped all over him down the left wing, McKenzie got the lower center of gravity and sniped a shot past T.C. goalie Rylan Parenteau with a quick release. Then after 17-year-old forward Landon Fuller took a run at Jake Gricius and buried him near the boards, he was handed a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct. This opened the door for the always effective road power play Portland touts and they took advantage. Caleb Jones fired a shot into traffic from straight on at the blue line and Keegan Iverson deflected the puck past Parenteau. The Hawks added a goal just over two minutes later as a shot from Brendan De Jong was blocked down and the puck went right to Lane Gilliss. Prior to Sunday, the forward had not scored since the day after Thanksgiving, but now he has goals in consecutive game. His marker gave Portland a 3-0 lead after one period of play.

After a 19-8 shot advantage in the first period, the second saw a more even 14-12 T.C. advantage. Kelher made several athletic saves to turn away the desperate Americans and opened the door for Portland to make it a 4-0 game. Keoni Texeira, on the rush, fired a shot to Parenteau's far pad, creating a rebound for Jake Gricius. The overage goalie made a brilliant save on Gricius's first goal, but the big center found the rebound and his second shot, while he was sitting on the ice, beat Parenteau.

Tri-City finally got things going and got one past Kehler with 7:01 left in the game. Parker AuCoin made a dandy of a move around a defender behind Kehler's net and fed Kyle Olson all alone in front. The 1999-born forward quickly beat Kehler and made it a three-goal game. Portland's captain scored his second of the night with 2:27 left just so there was no more doubt who would win the night. Tyler Sandhu's clearance attempt was deflected and then collected by Alex Overhardt and the center quickly fed Iverson in the slot. The overage power forward beat Parenteau blocker-side and made the game 5-1. It was Iverson's seventh goal of the year against Tri-City. The Hawks added one more later as Ilijah Colina collected the puck near his own faceoff dot and smartly aired it out to Brett Clayton. The big forward broke in alone and beat Parenteau with a backhand. Tri-City coach Mike Williamson was adamant that the puck was played with a high stick and there did appear to be an official calling just that before Clayton collected the puck for his breakaway. But the call was waved off and play was allowed to resume resulting in the big forward's second goal of the year.

Rylan Parenteau dropped to 4-3 against Portland (4-2 as an American) by stopping 31 of 37 shots.

Portland's road power play kept its claim on first in the WHL by going 1/2 on the night. Tri-City went 0/6. Portland's percentage increased up to 30.9 percent.

Game Notes:
-Portland has just two games left in the regular season and they are on Saturday in Seattle and on Sunday home vs. Spokane. Their record of 39-27-1-3 puts them third in the U.S. Division, three points ahead of Tri-City. The Ams have one game in hand. They play a home-and-home with Spokane on Friday and saturday, before hosting Everett on Sunday.
-Getting third in the division would ensure that Portland play in the U.S. bracket and keep their travel at a minimum. Their first-round opponent would either be Everett or Seattle.
-Tri-City has dropped five-in-a-row now and is spiraling down at the last time of year you would want to do that. Injuries have played a key role and their defensemen and goaltenders have not played up to what is expected of them.
-The emotional win on Sunday in Portland over Everett definitely played a role in the start Portland got out to on Tuesday night. You have to wonder, if it brought the team closer together and inspired them to play above themselves. They have won seven of their last eight games and are playing some of their best team-hockey of the year.
-If the Hawks can get just one more win, they would reach 40 wins for the 20th time in franchise history. It would also mean that Mike Johnston had reach at least 40 wins in all six full seasons he's been behind the Portland bench.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Huge 4-3 comeback win over Everett vaults Portland into third in U.S.

While Keegan Iverson is the team captain of the Portland Winterhawks it certainly appears that defenseman Caleb Jones is the heart-and-soul of this team. It was him taking to twitter making a Mark Messier style claim on victory that night as his team was mired in an eight-game losing streak. Fast forward to Sunday night in Portland where, fresh off a tough loss to Seattle, they were down to Everett by two goals with six minutes left. That is a tough thing to come back from against Everett but couple that with a Silvertips' power play and you're looking at an extremely difficult task for a very young team. Jones came through yet again for his squad, netting a short-handed marker and driving his team to a three-goal barrage in the last 5:39 of the game. Portland got a pivotal 4-3 win and overtook Tri-City by one point for third in the U.S. Division, though the Americans have one game in hand. The Winterhawks have been mired in a battle for a wild card spot for the entire 2017 part of the year and only recently clinched a spot. So this recent surge where they've won six of their last eight games, coupled with Tri-City dropping four in a row has set up a tight battle for third. Everett, meanwhile has to feel like they missed out on a key point or two in their battle with Seattle for the top-seed in the U.S. They are one point back of Seattle with one game in hand, but had a golden opportunity to retake the lead before Jones started the rally. Cody Glass had three points for Portland and Keegan Iverson had two in the win. Everett got goals from Brandson Hein, Matt Fonteyne and Eetu Tuulola in the loss.

Everett had the stronger legs early as they outshot Portland 14-9 and broke through on Cole Kehler twice. First, after Ryan Hughes lost the handle coming out of his own zone, he made things worse by trying a desperate pass that was blocked down by Brandson Hein. The fourth-line forward spun around the fired a shot towards the net that surprised and got through Kehler. Then with just over four minutes left in the opening period a pass missed Dominic Zwerger and went deep into the Portland zone. Zwerger was first to it though and fed an all-alone Matt Fonteyne in front of the Hawks' net. Fonteye poked it in for his 17th goal of the year and first since February 25th and second since January 22nd.

The in the second period after some strong pressure on the power play, Portland got a big one from Lane Gilliss. He had not scored since the day after Thanksgiving. Keoni Texeira expertly sent Colton Veloso and Gilliss in on a two-on-one as his pass off the board and into the air was mistimed by Noah Juulsen, who tried to knock it down. Everett got that right back as Sean Rcihards's shot created a rebound and Finnish forward Eetu Tuulola got two whacks at it, beating Kehler and reinstating the two-goal Everett lead.

Jones got the comeback going in the third period after a Brendan De Jong penalty. Colton Veloso dug the puck out of the corner and set up Matt Revel on a breakout short-handed. Revel's shot hit Carter Hart in the right pad, but the puck sprang out hard to the slot where Jones had skated. He hammered it in and gave Portland the leif they needed, cutting the Everett lead down to 3-2. Then Keegan Iverson collected a Brendan De Jong pass and used his big frame to create space before firing a pass across the zone to a parched Cody Glass at the bottom of the left faceoff dot. Glass wired his shot up high and Carter Hart could not get over in time. The night then got a happy ending with just 13 seconds left thanks to the diminutive sniper Skyler McKenzie. The best way to describe the winning goal was just that Portland's top line wanted the puck more. They won a series of 50-50 battles leading to McKenzie collecting a pass from Glass to the left of Hart and beating the confused netminder to the glove-side. All three forwards beat Everett players to pucks or just took it from them in succession. Frankly, it is not something you are used to seeing happen to Everett especially when it's players like Noah Juulsen and Connor Dewar it's happening to.

Cole Kehler came up with some of his biggest saves in the first two periods and turned away a total of 32 of the 35 shots. Everett's carter Hart faced a barrage which totaled 46 shots, stopping 42 of them.

Both teams failed to convert on their power plays. Everett had five while Portland had two.

Game Notes:
-Portland had not come from behind throughout the entire 2016 part of the 2016-17 season, but has now proven they can do it even against one of the better shutdown teams in the league. A big part of that, in my opinion, has been the increased creativity in the offensive zone. Rather than just shoot from the distance they have been attacking and forcing the defense to commit before setting up an open and high quality chance. Also, as was the case on the Jones goal, never being afraid to jump into the play, even when you are down a man. Increased comfort in Mike Johnston's system and confidence have to have played roles in every d-man on this team's tendency to jump up when there's a lane.
-Johnston seems to never want to coach the creativity out of his players and their ability to create breakouts and scoring chances from all over the ice has been a marked change from where they were at last year.
-Matt Revel is starting to be used as a faceoff specialist by the Portland coaches and he has been paying dividends. The overage center also used his smarts on the short-handed break, aiming for the far pad and creating the rebound. His arrival in Portland will be key to their playoff success.
-Caleb Jones has two of his nine goals in the last three games and has a five-game point streak. He has moved up to a tie for fifth overall for points among d-men with 58.
-Cody Glass nears closer to the century mark as he had one goal and two assists for three points and is now at 94. He moves up into a tie for fifth in the WHL in points with Moose Jaw's Jayden Halbgewachs.
-Tuesday's game in Kennewick is suddenly a huge one for Portland as they try to ensure they will not be taking a long bus ride into British Columbia for their first-round playoff series.

Seattle overwhelms Portland late for a 6-3 win

Portland is not alone in the U.S. Division in feeling like they've let Seattle worm away with wins they should not have had. It's not that the Thunderbirds were outplayed in those games, they just have not had a full roster for most of the season. With Mathew Barzal out with an illness and starting goalie Rylan Toth leaving with "flu-like symptoms" after the first period, the scene was set for a Portland win. Instead Portland had to chase Seattle much of the night and was never out of it until a big Sami Moilanen penalty-shot goal did them in during the third period. Moilanen scoring a goal in this matter has been a re-occurring sight in Portland as he scored the shootout winner last time the teams played in the Rose City. Keegan Kolesar and Ryan Gropp each had two points apiece and Barzal's replacement: Alexander True netted two as well. True and Moilanen have been two of the major reasons the T-birds have been able to fight through the absences of many of their key players. Skyler McKenzie had two points for Portland in the loss.

After a scoreless first period during which Toth turned away all 11 shots he faced, things got really going in the second period. Turner Ottenbrei got the puck down low to Matthew Wedman and the young center lifted the puck over Portland goalie Shane Farkas to start the scoring. Just 53 seconds later, Caleb Jones sprung Skyler McKenzie in alone and Portland's leading goal-scorer beat Matt berlin with a backhand shot for his 40th goal of the year. After Dominic Turgeon led the way with 36 goals last year, Portland returned to the group of teams with 40-goal scorers. Then on a short-handed break, Donovan Neuls fed Nolan Volcan and the winger poked home the puck to give Seattle another one-goal lead. The after Farkas had robbed him multiple times, Ryan Gropp finally broke through for his 32nd of the season and a two-goal Seattle lead. He did so on the power play, when Keegan Kolesar and Alexander True set him up with some crisp passing. Portland cut the Seattle lead down to 3-2 on the very first goal in Portland for defenseman Shaun Dosanjh. After Farkas made a big kick save on one end the Hawks burst the other way and a Jake Gricius shot rebound out to a wide-open Dosanjh. He powered home his shot and netted just his fourth career goal in his 169th career game.

Alexander True gave Seattle another two-goal lead with yet another short-handed marker and Portland was behind the eight-ball down 4-2. 3:01 into the third period, though the Hawks got back within one s Keegan Iverson chipped in his 23rd of the year on the power play. That set the stage for Moilanen's penalty shot, where he made a similar deke to two weeks prior and beat Farkas for the 5-3 lead. Portland had their chances, but it really felt like they were chasing the game and Ethan Bear out them away with a late power play one-timer. That closed out the scoring at 6-3 and extended his point-streak to 15 games.

Farkas was stellar at the start but wilted under the high-quality Seattle chances, stopping 30 of 36. Berlin came on in relief of Toth and turned away 17 of 20.

Portland's power play went one-for-six but gave up two short-handed goals. Seattle's power play wen two-for-six and so they got three goals on special teams.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Portland's win streak goes to four in 5-4 win over Prince george

The B.C. Division has not had an easy time with the Portland Winterhawks. Wednesday night in Portland that trend continued as the Winterhawks held off the top team in the B.C. 5-4 behind two goals and two assists by Cody Glass. Portland boasts a record of 12-6 vs. the B.C. Division and split the four games with Prince George with two wins apiece. They were powered by a two-goal and two-assist night from Cody Glass in the win. Keegan Iverson, Caleb Jones and Henri Jokiharju each added two points for Portland, while Prince George was led by three assists from Radovan Bondra.

It was an eventful first period as Portland and Prince George traded two goals aside. Portland's captain Keegan Iverson got things going with a board-battle win in the Prince George zone. He got the puck to Cody Glass and the center collected and backhanded the puck past P.G. goalie Ty Edmonds all in one motion. Portland doubled their lead off some more hard work from their top line. Cody Glass outworked Jesse Gabrielle and pivoted inside to find Skyler McKenzie. The latter forward beat Edmonds with a quick shot that got just inside the far post. The Cougars started a run of three goals in a row with 6:52 left in the first. Gabrielle fired a pass down low to Radovan Bondra and the big Slovak fed Aaron Boyd at the net-front. Boyd tipped it in to make the game 2-1. Brendan Guhle tied things up 5:40 later and it was Jansen Harkins that started the play. The all-time franchise  points-leader fed Bondra with an incredible outlet pass and Bondra passed the puck to an activated Guhle. The speedy d-man beat Kehler to close out the scoring in the period.

Prince George then took their first lead of the game just 56 seconds into the next frame. Henri Jokiharju tried a no-look pass for his d-partner Keoni Texeira and the unexpected pass eluded the 19-year-old d-man. Jesse Gabrielle collected the puck and sneaked one through Kehler's pads for the 3-2 lead. Just a few minutes later, the Hawks tied the game up again. Cody Glass drove the wing and threw a shot towards the net that Keegan Iverson tipped on. Edmonds made the initial save, but Iverson was first to the rebound and put it home.

Caleb Jones then set up a pivotal Portland goal 3:43 into the third period. He batted the puck out of the air and sent Glass in on a two-on-one. Glass toe-dragged the puck around a defender and beat Edmonds glove-side for a 4-3 lead and his second of the game. Jokiharju then helped make up for his earlier miscue with a nifty pass down low to Joachim Blichfeld through traffic. The Dane got his stick under the puck in tight and roofed it over Edmonds for the two-goal lead. P.G. turned on the pressure after going down by two and broke through under a minute after the Blichfeld goal but it was too little too late. Colby McAuley got the P.G. goal as a missed Portland pass sent Bondra the other way. He fed McAuley who netted his 26th goal of the year.

Cole Kehler got the win by stopping 29 of 33 shots, while Edmonds turned away 33 of 38.

P.G. went 2/5 on the power play while Portland went 0/4.

Winterhawks add to Chiefs' misery with 4-2 win

It has not been a good week for the Spokane Chiefs. On Tuesday they dropped a big game to Seattle 5-2 that put their season on life support. Then on Wednesday they had the plug pulled in a miserable 4-0 loss to the visiting Everett Silvertips. In between they had to fight through the Snoqualmie Pass closure just to get home. On Friday night they hosted the Portland Winterhawks and hung right with them until they were undone by Cody Glass, Caleb Jones and a couple of poor penalties late 4-2. They were the latest team to be victimized by the red-hot Cody Glass as the Winnipeg native followed up his two-goal, two-assist night in Wednesday night's win over Prince George with two more goals. He has now strung together a five-game point streak after not getting any points in two-straight games for the first time since December. Glass's linemates Keegan Iverson and Skyler McKenzie each added two points in the Portland win. After getting broke up for a game against Vancouver, the top line was brought back together and has been scalding hot ever since. Iverson now has five-straight two-point games and McKenzie has seven points over his last five games. Taylor Ross and Kailer Yamamoto each scored for Spokane in the loss.

Cody Glass got things going for Portland 4:38 into the game. Skyler McKenzie used his speed to get to a loose puck first in the Spokane zone and threw the puck in front where a group of players were. Cody Glass got to it and after his first shot was turned away, he followed it up with a lob over the down and out Spokane goalie Jayden Sittler.  Sittler was otherwise stellar as he turned away 14 first-period shots to keep the game close.

Kailer Yamamoto tied the game on a strong individual effort. He looped around the Portland net and waited out Cole Kehler before beating him up high. The goal was Yamamoto's 38th of the year.

Portland again turned on the pressure in the third period and finally broke through 11:34 in. Joachim Blichfeld and Alex Overhardt won a battle in the corner and Overhardt threw a pass into the high slot where Caleb Jones was waiting. He fired it high glove side on Sittler, beating him for his eighth goal of the season. Then after Tyson Helgesen and Hudson Elynuik took consecutive penalties, Portland's road power play finally did what it does best: score goals. Just after the five-on-three turned into a five-on-four advantage, Iverson found Glass in the low slot from behind the net and the Hawks' center netted his 31st goal of the year. This gave Portland a 3-1 lead with 5:56 left. Spokane made it interesting as Alex Mowbray and Taylor Ross broke out short-handed and converted on the penalty kill. It wasn't pretty as Mowbray's pass just sneaked through Keoni Texeira and Ross's shot surprised Kehler. The Chiefs pulled Sittler for the extra-attacker in an attempt to tie the game up. McKenzie's speed again was a factor though as he forced a turnover in the Chiefs' zone and quickly fired the puck into the open net. This goal put the game away at 4-2 and puts McKenzie just one goal away from 40 at 39 on the season.

Kehler stopped 23 of 25 to get the win and Sittler was good for 45 saves on 48 shots.

Portland's road power play gave up a short-handed marker but did convert on one of their six opportunities. Spokane failed to score on two chances.

Game Notes:
-Evan Weinger missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury and was listed as out day-to-day.
-Cody Glass's two points get him up to 91 in 65 games. That slots him in at sixth in the WHL. He has six games to get nine points in order to hit the century mark.
-McKenzie meanwhile is eighth in goals at 39. Every Portland team Mike Johnston has coached has had a player hit at least 40 goals since the 2009-10 season.
-Caleb Jones has 55 points in 58 games and that puts him tied for eighth in scoring among WHL blue liners.
-Portland's road power play is now tops in the WHL at a 30.6 percent clip. They are just fifth overall though as their home power play operates at just 19.6 percent. This is the biggest difference I can remember ever seeing in this category.
-Portland now leads the season series five game to two with one remaining on March 19th.
-Seattle visits Portland Saturday night and suddenly not just one of the teams has their playoff seed in question. It appeared that Tri-City was pretty much locked into the third seed in the U.S. Division, but five straight wins, coupled with three straight losses by Tri-City cut the Americans lead down drastically. Portland is now just one point back.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Kehler backstops Winterhawks to third straight win over Giants: 3-0

Sometimes the schedule gives you a break. However, you actually have to take advantage of that break in order for it to even matter at all. The Winterhawks had to have a goal of six points out of the three straight games with Vancouver this week. They accomplished that goal. The Giants, though proud and packed with some young skill, are reeling and dwelling at the cellar in the Western Conference. After two straight wins where the offense was typically firing on all cylinders, but the defense and goaltending allowed them to creep back into games, Portland's team defense came to play Saturday night. They kept the Giants hemmed in their own zone for much of the night and back-checked to perfection for much of the night in a big 3-0 shut out win. While only being forced to make 12 saves on the night, Kehler still had to make several impressive ones while notching his second career WHL shutout. The three Portland goal-scorers all notched their 27th goals of the season in a strange coincidence. Though coincidental, it does speak to the scoring depth the Hawks have had this season. Keegan Iverson also pitched in two assists for his third straight multi-point game.

While on the power play, Portland opened the scoring on some strong perimeter passing that opened up a passing lane across the middle of the zone. Keegan Iverson whipped a pass through that line right to Cody Glass and he powered a one-timer through Vancouver goalie David Tendeck.

Portland appeared to have extended their lead to 2-0 early in the second period as a Keegan Iverson shot beat Tendeck on the short side. However, the goal was called off as Ryan Hughes made inadvertent contact with Tendeck. Upon review of the replay it appears that Hughes checked into the crease by Vancouver d-man Ryan Jones and then Tendeck actually initiates contact with Hughes before the puck slips past the Giants' goalie. Regardless, the play could not be overturned and Portland was left clinging to a one-goal lead a little while longer. They would finally extend the lead to two with 1:27 left in the second. Alex Overhardt cleanly won a faceoff in the Vancouver zone back to defenseman Brendan De Jong. The lanky blue liner passed over to the right wing where Skyler McKenzie quickly fired a shot on Tendeck. The netminder turned away the shot with a right pad kick save. Unfortunately for him the puck went right out to Joachim Blichfeld, who backhanded home the rebound.

The Winterhawks extended their lead to 3-0 in the third period. Henri Jokiharju fired a shot towards Tendeck that was tipped by Keegan Iverson. Tendeck could not quite handle the puck and had to fall back to make save off the goalie with his glove. Though, he made the stop, he ended up flipping the puck right to Ryan Hughes who quickly fired it past him. The third moved markedly faster than the other two periods until the end, though all three were marred with extracurricular activities after a lot of play stoppages. It was extremely clear that after playing each other three times in four days, the two squads were not exactly gettign along like gangbusters.

It was one of the easier shutouts Cole Kehler will ever have as he faced just 12 shots. However, as it is just his second and he's in his 19-year-old season, I'm sure he will have no qualms about taking it. David Tendeck was stellar for the Giants as he turned away 39 of 42 shots and kept the game from being more one-sided in the box score.

Portland's power play went 1/8 while Vancouver's went 0/4. The Hawks' power play is fourth in the WHL at 25.5 percent.

Game Notes:
-Portland has skated a whole lot of games this season with one or fewer overage players. They had three on the ice Saturday night and they made their presence felt. Keegan Iverson and Shaun Dosanjh threw a multitude of huge checks and thus sent a message to the young Giants. With the playoffs around the corner, those two throwing their weight around may be a huge key for any postseason success.
-With Spokane dropping two in Victoria, the Winterhawks now have a 12 point lead on the Chiefs for the last wild card playoff spot. Portland has seven games left while Spokane has eight. Portland needs to have some combination of four points gained by them or lost by Spokane to clinch a spot. This could happened as soon as Wednesday as Spokane plays Tuesday in Seattle and Wednesday in Everett and the Hawks host Prince George Wednesday night.
-Meanwhile, the Hawks have their sights on Tri-City and Victoria. They sit five points back of the Americans for third in the U.S. Division with a game in hand. They are also five points back of the Royals for the first wild card position.
-Portland likely prefers third in the U.S. as it is up in the air who the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Everett has 89 points, Prince George has 89 and Seattle has 88.
-We will likely not know the final playoff positions until the final weekend of the season.
-Mike Johnston continued to strike gold with some line changes. One night after he got three points out of the newly formed Matt Revel, Brad Ginnell and Colton Veloso line, he got two out of another new line. Skyler McKenzie was moved away form Keegan Iverson and Cody Glass for the first time in awhile. He played with Alex Overhardt and Joachim Blichfeld. Johnston, in his previous tenure in Portland was known to change some lines late in the season in order to feel out what other combinations he could use if scoring dried up. This is my guess as to why he split up the Glass-Iverson-McKenzie trio.

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.