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BY PAUL DANZER/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Despite fast start and fortunate bounces, Portland falls 5-4 in Game 3 of WHL playoffs; Spokane leads series 2-1

COURTESY: MEGAN CONNELLY, PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS - Robbie Fromm-Delorme of the Portland Winterhawks makes a play during Game 3 against the Spokane Chiefs on Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum. It looked like Tuesday would be the Portland Winterhawks' night.

They got the jump on the Spokane Chiefs with two goals in the first seven minutes.

Rookie Robbie Fromm-Delorme, who had three goals in the regular season, scored twice, including on a fluky play when he was protecting himself.

A centering pass deflected off a Spokane skate for another Portland goal.

But all that good fortune got the Winterhawks was a chance to test their playoff resilency.

Riley Woods scored 9:35 into overtime to lift the Chiefs to a 5-4 win in a back-and-forth Game 3 in front of 4,303 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

The Chiefs lead the best-of-seven Western Hockey League playoff series 2-1. Game 4 is 7 p.m. Wednesday at the coliseum.

Woods took a pass from Jake McGrew, skated into the slot, and stuffed the puck under Portland goalie Joel Hofer to decide the game.

Joachim Blichfeld and Jared Freadrich also scored goals for Portland.

The Winterhawks once again were without star forward Cody Glass, But Glass was at the game, and Winterhawks VP/GM/coach Mike Johnston said he will be a game-time decision for Wednesday's game.

Portland will get John Ludvig, one of its top defenseman, back for Game 4. Ludvig was suspended for two games after a game misconduct penalty for a high hit in Game 1.

Fromm-Delorme's second goal of the night, a deflection of a Nick Cicek blast that flipped into the air and behind goalie Bailey Brkin, put Portland up 1:44 into the third period, 4-3.

"It was coming up pretty close to my face. I was almost just protecting myself, and it just went off my stick," Fromm-Delorme said. "Obviously, it was a bit lucky. But that's where you've got to go to score goals is the front of the net."

Spokane tied the game at 7:48 of the third period. Ethan McIndoe won a race to negate a potential icing, and Adam Beckman followed up and slid a pass to Jack Finley alone in front.

Portland got off to a fast start. Fromm-Delorme poked home a rebound from a Cross Hanas shot to break the ice 1:37 into the game.

Blichfeld made the score 2-0 at 6:57 of the first period, driving a one-timer past Birkin from the high slot after Reece Newkirk carried the puck up the right wing past the goal line and sent a pass back to Blichfeld.

Spokane's first-period goal was by Luke Toporowski, who was open in front after Nolan Reid held the puck in the zone and Eli Zummack pushed the puck to Toporowski.

The Chiefs scored goals 39 seconds apart early in the second period. Luc Smith scored a power-play goal from the high slot 5:03 into the period, and McIndoe finished an odd-man rush at 5:42.

A fortunate deflection tied the score for Portland at 10:06 as Freadrich's centering attempt from the half wall deflected off the skate of a Spokane player in front and into the goal. An offensive zone faceoff win by Jake Gricius and some strong work along the wall by Newkirk preceded Freadrich's play.

Hofer finished with 38 saves as the Chiefs had a 43-32 shots-on-goal advantage.

Brkin made 28 saves, including his denial of Fromm-Delorme on a third-period breakaway and handling of a Blichfeld blast with 6:15 left in the third period.

Delorme said he lost control of the puck and didn't get off a shot after winning the puck along the neutral zone wall and breaking in alone midway through the third period.

After no penalties were called in Game 2, each team had only one power play on Tuesday. Spokane took advantage of its chance while Portland did not convert.

Johnston said both games were well-officiated.

"If it takes away a scoring chance, they have to call it," Johnston said, noting that a hooking penalty was coming against Portland had Woods not converted in overtime. "We've had some really good officiating, experienced guys who say, 'You guys decide the game. We're not going to decide it for you as long as you don't do any cheap stuff.'"

Johnston also likes the play of his youngsters, including Fromm-Delorme.

"He's a big-body guy. He's gotten quicker over the course of the year," he said. "And I just think with a lot of these kids it's confidence. They feel more comfortable with the puck. They have more poise. Confidence does go up and down throughout the year. But as they've come around the corner after Christmas I thought that all our young kids, first-year-players, feel they belong now and they know how we want to play. And they know how to play the right way so that I can put them on the ice more."

Four 16-year-olds and five 17-year-olds were in the Hawks' lineup Tuesday. That bodes well for the future of the franchise. More pressing though, is getting a win on Wednesday.

The return of Ludvig will be welcome on defense.

"He won our award for best defenseman," Johnston noted. "A guy like that is going to be really key to have back in the lineup. He's a physical presence. He's a calming presence."

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