The Portland Winterhawks won in overtime this Wednesday night 4-3 over the Tri-City Americans. With the win Portland extends their win streak to six games. They also keep their point streak alive, now tallying eight games in a row. The Winterhawks are now a single point behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who currently hold the number one seed in the Western Conference.
The match at Veterans Memorial Colosseum had an explosive start. Just 2:16 into the action, Tri-City would score the opening goal of the game. Rookie defenseman Merrek Arpin would send a shot from the far point towards the net. Arpin’s shot would deflect off a defender’s stick, and quickly soar into the net for his first ever WHL goal. Portland goaltender, Dante Giannuzzi, was screened on the play and couldn’t find the puck until it was too late.
Luckily for Portland, they would bounce back quickly. Almost eight minutes into the period, the Winterhawks started to find momentum. After a good give-and-go pass to get into the attacking zone, Ryan McCleary would find space in the corner. Looking middle, McCleary would send a pass to the high slot. From there, Marcus Nguyen would whip a shot, high blocker side, and score to tie the game at 1-1.
However, Portland’s momentum was then stunted at the end of the period. A 2-3 rush for the Americans left the trailing Lukas Dragicevic open for a shot at the top of the faceoff circle. Dragicevic’s shot would beat Giannuzzi’s glove side, and put Tri-City in the lead 2-1. The goal extends Dragicevic’s point streak to 26 straight games. The Americans would hold the one-goal lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period saw bundles of offensive chances. Tri-City would outshoot Portland in the second period 16-15. However, the Winterhawks’ offense would strike first in this period. On the power-play, Luca Cagnoni would fire a shot from the point. Robbie Fromm-Delorme would redirect the puck right in front of the American’s netminder, Jared Picklyk, and tie the game at 2-2.
Diego Buttazzoni made a critical play at 13:38 in the second period. A puck that was forced off the boards found space in the middle of the Tri-City defensive zone. Buttazzoni won the race to the puck and moved toward the net with no assistance. Buttazzoni held the puck around an incoming stick check, shifted the puck between the defender’s legs, and then wristed a shot past Picklyk’s blocker side. Buttazzoni’s first goal of his WHL career gave the Winterhawks their first lead of the night.
Unfortunately for Portland, they wouldn’t be able to hold on to the lead. With 44 seconds remaining, the Americans were back on the attack. Reese Belton was the benefactor of a turnover and found himself with a chance to close on Giannuzzi. Giannuzzi would make the save, however, the rebound would kick perfectly out to Jake Sloan for a backhand shot that would tie the game a 3-3.
The third period was an oddity of sorts. Portland dominated in shots on goal, 14-5 over Tri-City. However, both teams had multiple quality chances. Both Giannuzzi and Picklyk had to be sharp to keep their teams in the game. By the end of the period, the score remained at 3-3.
The game-winning goal would come just over halfway through the overtime period. Luca Cagnoni would rocket a pass from Portland’s defensive circle, looking to hit Gabe Klassen on a breakaway. Klassen wouldn’t be able to control the pass, but he would get his stick on the puck, waving the potential icing call. The puck would kick right back to Klassen off the end boards, and Klassen would wrist a shot short side to beat Picklyk. The Winterhawks would win 4-3 in overtime.
The Winterhawks have back-to-back matches against the Everett Silvertips coming up this weekend. On Friday, December 30th, Portland will be at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. Then, they will return home for a rematch on Saturday, December 31st for their final game of 2022.