The Portland Winterhawks fell just short in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tri-City Americans Saturday night. This was the last meeting between Tri-City and Portland this regular season. The Winterhawks end the season with a head-to-head record of 4-2-2 against the Americans. Both Portland and Tri-City have secured a spot in the WHL playoffs, so there is still a possibility they could meet again this season.
The last bout between Portland and Tri-City occurred at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Washington. The Winterhawks were determined to keep their momentum rolling as they had just entered a two-game win streak. The first period saw Portland piling on shots, putting up 18 against Tri-City who only managed 6. However, Tri-City would make their few shots count.
The Tri-City Americans were on the power-play almost eight minutes into the action. Lukas Dragicevic received a pass at the point, and moved the puck over to Parker Bell for a one-timer shot. Portland goalkeeper, Dante Giannuzzi, would make the stop. However, the rebound would kick right to the stick of Reese Belton for a tap in goal to put Tri-City on the board first. Portland would have a goal disallowed late in the first period as well, meaning the Americans would hold a 1-0 lead headed into the second period.
The second period went similarly to the first. Once again, Portland outshot Tri-City, 17-11. However, the Americans continued to make their opportunities count. With two minutes remaining in the period, Dragicevic would bank a pass off the boards to Adam Mechura for a breakaway. Mechura would move right to left, and wrist a shot past the leg of Giannuzzi to extend Tri-City’s lead.
In the third period, the Winterhawks began to mount their comeback. With just under half the game remaining, Marcus Nguyen would get a breakaway opportunity off a broken stick on a slap shot from the point. Nguyen would stickhandle back and forth, then flick a quick wrist shot past the glove of Tri-City goaltender, Tomas Suchanek. The shorthanded goal would cut the American’s lead in half.
Then, with just over five minutes remaining in regulation, the Americans would turn the puck over at center ice. The Winterhawks would find themselves on a 3 on 2 rush with one American skater backchecking. Josh Zakreski entered the zone, drew defenders, and found Luke Schelter alone between the faceoff circles. Schelter’s shot would beat Suchanek’s blocker side, and tie the game at 2-2.
The game would head into overtime, where 1:08 into the overtime session, Tri-City would be awarded a penalty shot. Reese Belton would swerve to his right, then move back towards the left faceoff circle. He then made a stick fake to his right, and pulled the puck far across to his backhand. Belton’s backhand was just out of the reach of the sprawled Giannuzzi, and the lofted shot would find the back of the net, securing the overtime win for Tri-City.
Portland has six regular season matches remaining before their postseason starts. The Winterhawk’s next match is Tuesday, March 14th against the Spokane Chiefs.