Winterhawks fall in overtime
It took a memorable goal for the Seattle Thunderbirds to beat Cole Kehler and the shorthanded Portland Winterhawks on Saturday at ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.
Jarret Tyszka swept the puck into the goal from his backside 3:53 into overtime to give Seattle the 4-3 Western Hockey League win. The Thunderbirds dominated the three-on-three overtime, outshooting the Winterhawks 7-0.
The rivals meet again on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Moda Center for the Winterhawks' annual New Year's Eve game. Sunday's game will be televised on KRCW (channel 32, cable channel 3).
Portland has won only two of its last 11 games, but did pick up a point on the road.
The Winterhawks (22-12-1-1, 46 points) trail first-place Everett by two points in the U.S. Division. But Portland has three games in hand on Everett. Seattle (17-14-4-1, 39 points) is fifth in the division and currently holds the final Western Conference playoff spot. Seattle and Portland reached the halfway point of their 72-game regular-season schedule on Saturday.
Skyler McKenzie scored twice and Alex Overhardt once for Portland, which had three one-goal leads but could not maintain the advantage.
The Winterhawks were without Cody Glass and Keoni Texeira because of lower-body injuries. Texeira has missed the last two games and Glass left Friday's game at Tri-City with a knee injury.
The Winterhawks also are without three players during the World Juniors Championships. Kieffer Bellows (United States), Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) and Henri Jokiharju (Finland) are playing at the international tournament in Buffalo, New York.
McKenzie, who scored the overtime winner on Friday at Tri-City and now has 26 goals in 36 games this season, put Portland ahead 1-0 in the second period and 3-2 in the third period on Saturday. Both goals came off rebounds from Brendan De Jong shots.
Portland was 2 for 5 on the power play, with McKenzie's goal opening the scoring from a sharp angle along the right-wing goal line 44 seconds into the second period.
But Seattle tied it 17 seconds later on a shot from the top of the left-wing circle by defenseman Jake Lee.
Overhardt scored on the power play to make it 2-1 for Portland at 15:14 of the second period. His shot snuck between the pads of Seattle goalie Liam Hughes and trickled across the goal line.
Portland's 2-1 lead entering the third period lasted only 10 seconds. Samuel Huo scored his first goal of the year from the low slot after the Thunderbirds Zack Andrusiak won a battle below the goal line and sent a quick pass to the open Huo in front.
McKenzie made it 3-2 at 5:10 of the third period, pouncing on a big rebound off a shot from De Jong.
Seattle tied it on the power play 12:32 into the third period, Nolan Volcan re-directing a nice feed from Andrusiak into the goal.
Portland controlled play for long stretches of the game, including the first 10 minutes of the third period. But goalie Liam Hughes, playing his first game since November, made some big stops to keep the Hawks from gaining a two-goal advantage.
The overtime was all Seattle. The Thunderbirds had multiple high-probability scoring chances denied by Kehler, who twice stoned Donovan Neuls and once robbed Tyszka.
On the winning goal, Tyszka made a move in the slot to get around McKenzie, who was called for a penalty as Kehler made the initial save. After falling to the ice, Tyszka was able to sweep his stick along the ice and guide the puck into the open net.
Kehler finished with 29 saves, six of them in the overtime. Portland outshot Seattle 34-33 for the game, 34-26 through regulation.
The Winterhawks played a strong first period, outshooting the Thunderbirds 12-6 and forcing Hughes into some quality saves. Portland likely would have scored on one of its first-period power play, but Jake Gricius was hit with a high stick just as he was about to poke home a loose puck. No penalty was called on that play.
De Jong had assists on all three Portland goals and Ryan Hughes had a pair of assists to give Hughes 11 points in 12 games played this season.