Portland Winterhawks Road Skid Continues with 4-1 Loss to Seattle Thunderbirds

Photo Credit: Keith Dwiggins

The Portland Winterhawks’ struggles continue as they fell 4-1 to the Seattle Thunderbirds Saturday night. The Winterhawks are 0-6-0-1 in their last seven. Six of these last seven losses have come on the road, which now put the Winterhawks’ away record at 13-14-2. The loss to Seattle also means that the Thunderbirds are pulling away in the race for 1st place in the Western Conference. The Winterhawks are now 15 points behind the Thunderbirds, with 11 games to go in the regular season.

The Winterhawks would get off to an early start in the match. Almost four minutes into the match, Gabe Klassen would steal the puck away in Portland’s defensive zone. Klassen would then look up ice and find Marcus Nguyen behind the defense on a breakaway. Nguyen would lift his leg, faking a wrist shot. Then, Nguyen moved to his backhand and attempted to jam the puck through Thomas Milic’s leg pad. The puck would sneak through the five hole on Milic, and trickle over the goal line to give Portland the first goal of the game.

The one-goal lead would hold for the Winterhawks until the second period. Just over six minutes into the period, the Thunderbirds found themselves on the power-play. A poke check by Reid Schaefer would keep the puck in the Thunderbirds’ attacking zone. Gracyn Sawchyn would corral the puck at the blue line and then pass to Schaefer in the high slot. Schaefer’s shot would whip past Jan Špunar’s glove and tie the game at 1-1.

The game would remain tied heading into the third period, where Seattle began to capitalize on their chances. After starting the period in the penalty box, Kevin Korchinski would help Seattle keep the puck in the attacking zone. Korchinski moved with the puck along the boards, and then fed Jeremy Hanzel at the far faceoff circle. Hanzel’s wrist shot would beat the sliding Špunar, blocker side, to give the Thunderbirds the 2-1 lead.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Winterhawks. Just 44 seconds later, Tij Iginla would pick up the puck off an offensive zone faceoff. Iginla would shift the puck from forehand to backhand, and shoot around the sliding defender. Iginla’s backhand would go top-shelf past the shoulder of Špunar to give the Thunderbirds a two-goal lead.

Portland would outshoot Seattle in the third period 13-9. However, the Winterhawks couldn’t find a way to break through Thomas Milic. With nine seconds remaining in the game, a Portland turnover would give an empty net goal to Lucas Ciona, finalizing a 4-1 Thunderbirds victory.

Portland’s last game of their seven-game road trip is March 3, against the Everett Silvertips with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m.