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BY PAUL DANZER/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Wednesday's 4-3 win over defending WHL champs improves Portland to 4-0 at home

COURTESY PHOTO: KEITH DWIGGINS - Winterhawks forward Cross Hanas is persued by Prince Albert's Ilya Usau during Wednesday's 4-3 win for Portland.Reece Newkirk's second four-point night of the season paced the Portland Winterhawks to a 4-3 Western Hockey League win over the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum.

Newkirk had two goals and two assists as Portland improved to 4-0 at home.

In handing the defending-champion Raiders only their second loss in regulation, the Winterhawks improved to 7-3-0-1 (15 points), one point behind behind Everett in the U.S. Division.

Prince Albert is 7-2-3-0 (17 points) atop the East Division. The Raiders suffered their first regulation loss on Tuesday to Seattle. It was only the second time this season Prince Albert has allowed more than three goals.

As nice as the two points are in the standings, this was the kind of result that could resonate for the Hawks going forward.

"It was really good for our young guys to go through a tight-checking game like that," Winterhawks associate coach Kyle Gustafson said. "There were situations where we had to be sharper with the puck.

"(The Raiders) did a great job trapping in the neutral zone. That was a real obstacle for us to get through."

Newkirk's empty-net goal with 49 seconds left turned out to be the game-winner because the Raiders scored with five seconds remaining.

Newkirk has three goals and 12 assists for a team-high 15 points. His interception set up Seth Jarvis in front late in the first period and Jarvis' fifth goal of the season gave Portland a 2-0 lead.

Portland was 2 for 4 on the power play, with Newkirk scoring the first goal of the night from a sharp angle on the power play and his shot-pass into the crease deflected off of Jake Gricius in front for a power-play goal that made it 3-1 Portland in the second period.

The Hawks killed off all three Raiders power plays and goalie Joel Hofer continued his strong play. Hofer came up big in moments when Price Albert was pressing to tie the game and finished with 25 saves.

For Prince Albert, Jakob Brook scored his fist of the season for after Reece Vitelli forced a turnover and fed Brook to make it 2-1 in the second period.

The Raiders' Jeremy Masella scored four minutes into the third period to make it 3-2 and set up a tense, tight checking third period that saw each team manage only six shots on goal.

Newkirk's empty-netter, after a faceoff win by Gricius, proved vital. He scored from just beyond center ice after collecting Gricius draw.

The Winterhawks visit Spokane on Friday. Their next home games are Nov. 2 (Seattle) and Nov. 3 (Kamloops).

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