Winterhawks Can’t Convert in 3-1 Loss to Kelowna

Photo Credit: Steve Dunsmoor

The Portland Winterhawks lost 3-1 to the Kelowna Rockets Saturday night. With the loss, the Winterhawks are now on a three-game losing streak. In the past three games, Portland has been outscored 12-3. While all three of those goals have come on the road, they have also given up 9 goals in the last two games.

Portland would get off to a fantastic start in the first period. The Winterhawks were not only creating great offensive chances, but goaltender Jan Špunar was making saves. With 13:37 remaining in the first period, the Rockets were on a power play. Some great passing along goal line extended left a point-blank chance for Carson Golder. However, Špunar would make a sprawling glove save and deny any rebound chances.

The opening goal of the game came at 13:25 in the first period. The Winterhawks were set up on the power play. Luca Cagnoni would pass to Gabe Klassen, who was high inside the faceoff circle. Klassen would skate in and throw the puck toward the center. Jack O’Brien had found space and was ready to redirect the puck, but couldn’t make contact off the pass. However, the puck would deflect off defenseman Jackson DeSouza and sneak inside the near post. The goal would go to Gabe Klassen, and the Winterhawks would hold a 1-0 score line through the first period.

The second period was an anomaly. The Winterhawks dominated the Rockets in the shots on goal category, 16-1. Part of the reason for the shot discrepancy was Kelowna getting into some penalty trouble. Kelowna took seven penalties throughout the game. One of the penalties called in the second period was on Andrew Cristall was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty. Despite the numerous power-play chances, the Winterhawks could not stump Rockets netminder, Talyn Boyko.

To make matters worse for Portland, Kelowna’s shooting accuracy in the second period was 100%. With 2:31 remaining in the period, the Winterhawks were on the power play. A loose puck would spring Marcus Pacheco on a one-on-one with Luca Cagnoni. Pacheco pulled up at the faceoff circle, and looked for assistance. However, seeing that two more Winterhawks skaters were headed in his direction, Pacheco decided to rip a shot on net. The low-angled shot would beat Špunar’s glove and tie the game at 1-1.

In the third period, the Rockets got off to a hot start. Just 1:58 into the final period, the Rockets were on a 3 on 3 rush. Trae Johnson had the puck and moved toward the far side of the faceoff circle. Then, Johnson turned and passed to the trailing forward, Turner McMillen. Despite McMillen being draped by Luke Schelter, McMillen got a bullet of a wrist shot past Špunar to give Kelowna their first lead of the night.

The Winterhawks had chances in the third period but couldn’t beat Boyko again. Boyko made 45 saves on 46 shots, and helped kill 6 of 7 penalties. Portland outshot Kelowna 46 to 15 by the end of the game, but the Rockets’ skaters were finding the back of the net. Adam Kydd would score an insurance goal nearly four and a half minutes after the McMillen wrister. From there, Boyko and the Rockets’ defense would hold on to get the 3-1 over Portland.

This was game two of seven straight road matchups for the Winterhawks. Portland’s next game is Monday, Feb. 20 as they hit the road to take on the Prince George Cougars with puck drop set for 2 p.m.