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FRIDAY WHL RECAP/Portland scores early in win at Seattle that inches Hawks closer to Everett

The Portland Winterhawks scored on their first shot of the game and kept the Seattle Thunderbirds at bay until a late power play in a 4-1 Western Hockey League win on Friday at ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.

Joachim Blichfeld, John Ludvig, Lane Gilliss and Josh Paterson scored for Portland and Shane Farkas stopped 25 of 26 shots in the Portland win.

The win improves the Winterhawks to 33-15-3-2 for 71 points, second in the U.S. Division. Seattle is 20-26-5-1, fifth in the division.

Blichfeld opened the scoring with his 44th goal of the season 2:07 into the game. After a defensive zone faceoff win, a stretch pass sent Blichfeld into the attacking zone where he snapped a shot past a retreating Thunderbird from the high slot that beat goalie Cole Schwebius.

Ludvig doubled the lead at 10:41 of the first period, just as a power play expired. The defenseman scored his fourth of the season on a shot from the left-wing faceoff circle.

Gilliss' 13th goal of the season was the product of a Portland forecheck. He increased the lead to 3-1 at 11:18 of the second period, sweeping the puck inside the left post after Seth Jarvis pushed the puck into the crease from behind the goal-line.

Farkas was in position to earn a shutout until Seattle's Matthew Wedman scored on a five-on-three power play with 3:47 left in the game.

Paterson sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 24 seconds left.

The Winterhawks were 0 for 2 on the power play, though Ludvig's goal came as an effective power play expired. The Thunderbirds were 1 for 6 on the power play.

Portland plays at Everett at 7 p.m. Saturday before returning home for a 5 p.m. Sunday game against Medicine Hat.

Everett leads Portland by five points in the race for the division title. The Silvertips have 16 games remaining in the regular season, the Winterhawks 15. After Saturday, Everett and Portland meet only one more time in the regular season, a March 12 game in Portland.

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