Kolle goal lifts Winterhawks
Ty Kolle scored with 3:07 remaining to lift the visiting Portland Winterhawks to a 4-3 win over the Prince George Cougars in Western Hockey League action on Tuesday.
Joachim Blichfeld, Reece Newkirk and Skyler McKenzie also scored for Portland, and Cole Kehler made 20 saves as the Winterhawks escaped with a victory.
It was a big win for Portland (41-20-1-4, 87 points), which is six points ahead of third-place Spokane in the U.S. Division and six back of division-leading Everett. Spokane has played one fewer game than Portland. Portland has played one fewer game than Everett, and will play that on Wednesday at the CN Centre in Prince George, British Columbia.
Prince George, a young team building for the future, is at the bottom of the Western Conference (23-35-4-4, 54 points).
After the Wednesday rematch with the Cougars, the Winterhawks return to Portland to play four of their last five regular-season games at home.
Kolle's goal, the seventh of the season for the rookie, came on a shot from the top of the right-wing circle after Lane Gilliss did a nice job to keep possession while skating in the corner and behind the goal. Jake Gricius provided a screen in front of Prince George goalie Taylor Gauthier.
Portland never trailed but found itself in a tight game despite dominating the shot counter and taking a 2-0 first period lead on goals from Blichfeld and Newkirk.
The game was tied 2-2 entering the third period.
McKenzie broke a nine-game goal drought 2:19 into the third, scoring his 42nd of the season off the rush with a pass from Cody Glass.
But former Hawk Ilijah Colina — who went to Prince George in the trade that broght defenseman Dennis Cholowski to Portland — scored a pretty goal 51 seconds later, eluding a pair of Hawks while skating into the low slot to beat Kehler.
Cholowski, the Cougars' captain prior to being traded to Portland, had two assists.
Blichfeld opened the scoring 13:53 into the game when he backhanded the puck past Gauthier after a shot attempt by Ryan Hughes bounced to Blichfeld in front of the goal.
Newkirk made the score 2-0 at 19:03, skating off the wall and ripping a shot from the left wing circle for his seventh goal of the season.
Portland was dominating possession and attack zone opportunities for Prince George were few. But the Cougars struck twice in 18 seconds late in the second period to tie it up entering the third period.
Josh Maser scored his 27th of the season at 17:13 from close range in the slot. With other players battling for the puck behind the goal, Josh Curtis was able to push it out to Maser alone on front.
Ethan Browne's first WHL goal tied the game 18 seconds later as he skated off the right-wing wall and took a shot that appeared to hit something in front and popped over Kehler.
Portland ended up with a 43-23 shots advantage. Both teams were scoreless on three power plays.