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SATURDAY WHL RECAP/Strong third period the difference as Portland wins 8-6 at Seattle

Two strong periods, including a dominant third frame, lifted the Portland Winterhawks to a 8-6 Western Hockey League win on Saturday over the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Ryan Hughes and Lane Gilliss each scored twice and Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and three assists as Portland survived four goals from Seattle's Zack Andrusiak and a shortage of defensemen to prevail at ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.

It was the 20th win of the season for the Hawks, who outscored the Thunderbirds 3-1 in the decisive third period.

Portland is 20-11-3-2 for 45 points, second in the U.S. Division. Seattle is 11-18-4-0 (26) at the bottom of the division.

The Winterhawks were down three of their top four defensemen for more than half of the game, but got the winning goal from a young defenseman.

Clay Hanus put Portland up 1:25 into the third period, skating down to the left-wing circle and wristing a shot through the pads of Seattle goalie Liam Hughes. Hanus' third goal of the season made the score 6-5.

Ryan Hughes then made it 7-5 at 5:24 of the third. He skated off the left wing boards and sent a shot through traffic that Liam Hughes appeared not to see.

Andrusiak scored his fourth of the game with 28.2 seconds left after a failed clearing attempt; the goal pulled Seattle within a goal. That goal came with the Thunderbirds skating six-on-five with goalie Liam Hughes on the bench.

On the ensuing faceoff at center ice, Gilliss won a puck battle and flipped the puck into the air and found the open net.

The second period featured seven goals as Seattle rallied from a 3-0 deficit after the first 20 minutes into a 5-5 tie. Andrusiak scored three of the Thunderbirds' five goals in the period.

A major penalty for kneeing against Winterhawks defenseman Matthew Quigley early in the second period contributed to the momentum shift. Quigley's penalty sent Seattle's Dillon Hamaliuk to the ice, and the Thunderbirds' forward left and did not return.

Portland started fast.

Goals from Blichfeld, Gilliss and Seth Jarvis put the Winterhawks up 3-0 midway through the first period. Portland killed a five-on-three that came shortly after Blichfeld and Gilliss scored the first two Portland goals 16 seconds apart.

The second period was Seattle's. The Thunderbirds pulled into a 3-3 tie 10:47 into the second period, when the puck deflected off of Andrusiak's skate and over the shoulder of Portland goalie Shane Farkas.

Power-play goals from Ryan Hughes and Jake Gricius each gave the Winterhawks a one-goal lead that was quickly answered by the Thunderbirds, and the game was 5-5 with a period to play.

Both teams were 2 for 4 on the power play. Farkas finished with 30 saves, and Liam Hughes made 32 stops.

Portland was without two regular defensemen at the start of Saturday's game and played most of the final two periods without Quigley. Brendan De Jong, who left Friday's game with an injury, was not in the Saturday lineup. John Ludvig served the first of a two-game suspension for a hit in Friday's game against Tri-City.

Portland figures to again be down multiple top defensemen when Seattle visits Portland at 7 p.m. Monday for the Winterhawks' traditional New Year's Eve game at Moda Center.

Ludwig will serve the second game of his suspension, and Quigley might be in line for additional punishment following his kneeing penalty.

• Canada improved to 3-0 on Saturday at the IIHF World Juniors Championships with a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. Cody Glass did not register a point on Saturday after posting a goal and four assists in Canada's first two wins. First place in Group A will be decided on Monday, when Canada and Russia meet at 5 p.m. in Vancouver. Also on Saturday, the United States rallied from a 4-0 third-period deficit but lost 5-4 in overtime to Sweden despite two goals in the final minute. Team USA is 2-0-1 and will finish round-robin play on Monday against Finland. Sweden is 3-0 atop Group B.

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