Blichfeld hat trick lifts Winterhawks
Joachim Blichfeld had a hat trick and the Portland Winterhawks clinched their spot in the Western Hockey League playoffs with Sunday's 5-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds in front of 9,181 fans at Moda Center.
This is the 10th consecutive season that Portland has qualified for the playoffs.
Blichfeld increased his league-leading goals total to 48, scoring twice in the second period and once in the third. He also had an assist on a Josh Paterson goal late in the first period that put Portland in front 2-1.
Michal Kvasnica opened the scoring for Portland, and Cody Glass assisted on all three of Blichfeld's goals.
At 35-16-3-3 (76 points), the Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division and third in the Western Conference. The U.S. Division-leading Everett Silvertips and B.C. Division's Vancouver Giants — who Portland visits at 3 p.m. Monday — are tied atop the conference with 81 points. The Hawks have played two more games than the Giants and one more than the Silvertips.
Portland outshot Seattle 52-36, and with Glass in his second game back from injury awoke on special teams, going 2 for 3 on the power play and adding a shorthanded goal.
Joel Hofer stopped 34 shots in goal for the Hawks.
In addition to other milestones, the win was the 350th with the Winterhawks for coach Mike Johnston.
Kvasnica opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season 11:24 into the first period, carrying the puck through the neutral zone and whipping a wrist shot past Seattle goalie Cole Schwebius.
Paterson's goal 13 seconds into a Portland power play made it 2-1 16:26 into the first period. He converted a rebound off of a Blichfeld shot for his 21st goal of the season and his seventh in 16 games with the Winterhawks.
Blichfeld scored twice in less than four minutes early in the second period. His first goal was a shorthanded breakaway, as Glass hit Blichfeld behind the defense, 4:25 into the second period. His second goal was into an open net on the power play on a cross-crease pass from Glass 7:44 into the second period.
Blichfeld's hat-trick goal came on a one-timer from the slot off a Glass feed from behind the net.
Blichfeld has 100 career regular-season goals in the WHL and four hat tricks.
Glass' three primary assists marked his eighth game this season with at least three assists.