The Portland Winterhawks defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds by a score of 5-2 Saturday night. The win over their northwest rivals moves Portland up to first place in the Western Conference and bumps the Seattle Thunderbirds down to 2nd place in the division. The Winterhawks’ record is now 33-8-3, with 24 more regular season matches to be played.
After a 6-3 win against the Swift Current Broncos on Friday, Portland looked to keep their momentum rolling as they hit the road for their match against Seattle in the Accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington. The Winterhawks’ offense would seemingly pick up right where it left off on Friday with an early goal. Luca Cagnoni would be denied a chance in front of the net by the stick of a defender. However, Cagnoni stuck with the play and would receive a pass moments later just inside the faceoff dot. He quickly turned and forced a backhand shot five-hole, past Thunderbirds goaltender Thomas Milic, to give the Winterhawks the early lead.
However, the Thunderbirds would come up with a response of their own. Just over halfway through the first period, Kevin Korchinski would receive a pass from Milic. Entering the offensive zone, Korchinski would find Gracyn Sawchyn on an outside angle. Sawchyn would beat Portland goalkeeper Dante Giannuzzi glove side with a laser of a wrist shot to tie the game at 1-1.
The tied score would hold through the remainder of the 1st period. However, the 2nd period is where the momentum began to shift. Just 25 seconds into the second period, Luca Cagnoni would win a battle for the puck near the offensive blue keeping Portland in the attacking third. After corralling the puck, Cagnoni would find space by skating east to west, across the offensive zone. Then Cagnoni fired a wrist shot from just inside the faceoff circle that would beat Milic glove side, and give the Winterhawks the 2-1 lead.
Despite being outshot 13 to 25 in the first two periods of play, Portland was making the most of their opportunities. Just past the halfway mark of the 2nd period, Carter Sotheran made a long pass to spring Chaz Lucius on the rush. Lucius’ wrist shot would whip past Milic’s blocker pad, and find the back of the net to extend the Winterhawks’ lead.
Seattle knew this game was still within arms reach, but they needed to respond quickly. Luckily for them, they would find that response a minute and thirty-five seconds after the Winterhawks’ goal. The Thunderbirds would win a battle for the puck along the boards and quickly move the puck across the offensive zone. Sawchyn would find Nolan Allan in close, and Allan’s wrist shot would catch Giannuzzi moving too far from left to right. Allan’s goal would help cut into the Winterhawks’ lead, narrowing the deficit back to one goal.
Unfortunately for Seattle, Portland would find an insurance goal just a minute and eight seconds later. A two-on-two rush gave Chaz Lucius the chance to drive the net. Lucius attempted to split the defensemen with the puck but was cut off right between the faceoff circles. However, the puck would drop back for Jack O’Brien, who would loft a shot off the far post and in to make the score 4-2.
Only one goal was scored in the third period, and it came with 28 seconds remaining in regulation. A turnover off a pass from the corner gave the puck to Portland’s Robbie Fromm-Delorme. Fromm-Delorme would then wrist a shot from behind his own blue line, into the Thunderbirds’ open net, making the score 5-2 Portland.
The Winterhawks’ next game is tonight, Jan. 29, against the Spokane Chiefs. Puck drop at Veterans Memorial Coliseum is at 5:00 p.m.