Winterhawks slip by Seattle 4-3 in shootout on Teddy Bear Toss Night

Photo Credit: Keith Dwiggins

The Portland Winterhawks slipped by the Seattle Thunderbirds on Teddy Bear Toss night with a 4-3 shootout victory. The Teddy Bear Toss is an annual holiday tradition for the Portland Winterhawks. On Teddy Bear Toss night, fans throw stuffed animals onto the ice after the Winterhawks score their first goal of the game. Those stuffed animals are then donated to Portland hospitals and charities. This year’s match marked the 24th annual Teddy Bear Toss, and the Winterhawks reported 14,787 toys donated this year. This is the most toys they’ve donated since 2009.

Veterans Memorial Coliseum was jumping, as the game started off just the way the Winterhawks had planned. Portland would score the opening goal of the match with 11:34 remaining in the period. After the puck left the Winterhawks’ defensive zone, Marcus Nguyen would steal a pass from the Seattle defense at the center ice line and be left alone on a breakaway. His initial chance would be saved by Seattle goalkeeper Scott Ratzlaff. However, Nguyen would jam the rebound into the net, and the parade of stuffed animals would take over the ice.

Once the ice was clear, action resumed, and Portland would score again! Dawson Pasternak would feed Marek Alscher on the rush. Alscher would have an edge on his defenseman and cut across the goal with the puck. His shot would be saved, but Pasternak would follow up with a backhand shot off the rebound and score. In just 49 seconds of game time, Portland had doubled their lead.

At the end of the first period, things looked dicey for Seattle. The Winterhawks not only had a two-goal lead but also led in shots on goal, 13-0. However, Seattle was not going down without a fight. In the next two periods, the Thunderbirds put up 35 shots on goal, while Portland had only put up 15. Despite the differential, there were no goals scored in the second period.

Entering the third period, the Thunderbirds knew they needed a goal. They would find one with 12:36 remaining in the period. Jared Davidson would send a pass to Bryce Pickford at the top of the zone. His one-timer shot would go over the glove of Portland netminder Dante Giannuzzi and dip under the crossbar to cut Portland’s lead in half.

Then, nearly a minute and a half later, the Thunderbirds would score again. Nico Myatovic would receive a pass in the corner, and drive behind the net. Taking a wide angle, his wrap around shot would sneak past Giannuzzi, and tuck inside the near post. Seattle had tied the game with 11:08 remaining in regulation.

Seattle would not take their foot off the gas either. Off a failed clear around the boards, Gracyn Sawchyn would throw the puck center for Kyle Crnkovic. Crnkovic then turned and passed to Jared Davidson, who was just inside the left faceoff circle. Davidson rifled a one-timer past Giannuzzi, and Seattle would take the lead with 3:43 remaining.

With the clock working against Portland, the Winterhawks needed to work quickly. James Stefan would dump the puck in around the boards with under 40 seconds remaining. Ratzlaff would come out of the net, to stop the puck in the trapezoid. However, Ratzlaff would hold the puck for a moment too long, and the forecheck of the Winterhawks would snatch the puck away from him. Stefan would quickly turn and throw the puck to the middle, where Luca Cagnoni would one-time a shot into the net. The Winterhawks had tied the game with just 30 seconds remaining in regulation.

Neither team would find a goal in the last seconds of regulation or overtime, which meant the game would be decided via shootout.

The only goal in the shootout came in round two, courtesy of Marcus Nguyen. Nguyen would take a wide angle and skate towards the goalie, moving right to left. Threading a near post shot, Nguyen made a stick move inside, then moved the puck back to his forehand. His shot would loft over the glove of Ratzlaff and hit the back of the net. Giannuzzi would make a blocker save on Jared Davidson in the third round of the shootout, and Portland would secure the shootout win.

The win keeps Portland in 1st place in the Western Conference and extends the Winterhawks’ point streak to three games. This is also the third consecutive game that the Winterhawks have won on home ice.

Portland hosts the Everett Silvertips this Sunday, Dec. 12. Puck drop is at 5:00 pm PST.