The Portland Winterhawks completed their weekend sweep of the Victoria Royals Saturday with a 7-4 win in the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena. This win comes off the back of a 5-1 victory the team had this Friday, which was also in Victora, BC. With these two victories, the Portland Winterhawks continue to hold the #1 seed in the WHL standings.
The first period of this match belonged to Portland. The first goal of the game came at 11:15 remaining in the first period. Marek Alscher would score on a quick wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle to give Portland an early lead. However, Portland wouldn’t hold onto that lead for long. Riley Gannon would score just 59 seconds later to tie the match.
Portland’s offense was not to be deterred though. Another 22 seconds later, and Aidan Litke chase down a puck dumped into the offensive zone on an even man rush. Litke would then center a pass from the corner, and Ryan McCleary would knuckle a loose shot five hole to give Portland a 2-1 lead.
Then, later in the period, the Winterhawks sustained pressure would earn them another goal. Gabe Klassen would find a feed from behind the net, and rifle a shot on Royals netminder, Tyler Palmer. However, Klassen would get his own rebound and score to extend Portland’s lead to 3-1.
In the second period, Portland’s offense didn’t slow down. Some creative movement and great passing between Luca Cagnoni and Gabe Klassen, allowed Dawson Pasternak to sneak behind the Royals defense. Pasternak had an easy redirect goal on the back door, to give Portland a three goal lead.
Victoria needed something to slow down Portland’s momentum. Strangely enough, they would find it while shorthanded. An odd man rush while on a penalty kill allowed Riley Gannon time and room to shoot. His shot would dip under the blocker of Winterhawks goaltender Jan Špunar, and sneak inside the far post to cut Portland’s lead in half.
Not long after the halfway mark of the game, Portland would bounce back. Aidan Litke, after fighting off a defender for space, would turn and rip a shot towards the net. Palmer was screened in front by Robbie Fromm-Delorme, and was late in tracking the shot. Litke would shot would score, and the Winterhawks were back to a three goal lead.
Portland’s power-play would redeem themselves shortly after as well. Off an offensive zone faceoff, Ryan McCleary would feed Aidan Litke at the opposite point. As Litke drifted down towards the net, the passing lane opened for a one-timer shot by Kyle Chyzowski. Chyzowski’s shot was low and deflected off the leg of the goalkeeper. However, the shot still had enough power to roll into the net, and give Portland their sixth goal of the game.
Just 43 seconds after giving up a power play goal, Jake Poole would score off a turnover in the Winterhawks defensive zone. Poole’s goal would be the last of the second period, and would keep the Royals within striking distance entering the final period.
Victoria would start the final period off on the right foot as well. Once again, Portland’s defense failed to clear the zone, and it left the Royals with an opportunity. Teague Patton would score on a give and go pass on the goalie’s blocker side. However, Patton’s shot would beat Jan Špunar low glove side, and make the comeback seem feasible.
However, with less than five minutes remaining, Portland would find their dagger in this match. This time, Victoria failed to clear their defensive zone, and Portland would punish them for it. Jack O’Brien would steal the puck, and find Aidan Litke. Litke would take a shot that was initially stopped by backup goaltender Logan Cunningham. Unfortunately for Cunningham, Robbie Fromm-Delorme would continue to jam away at the rebound, and would eventually pop the puck into the back of the net. Portland’s defense would do the rest to secure the 7-4 victory for the Winterhawks.
Portland’s returns home to play the Calgary Hitmen this Tuesday, November 15th.