Winterhawks stun Silvertips with rally
Hockey seasons are never defined in December. But it would be a disservice to downplay the significance of the win the Portland Winterhawks' produced on Friday at Moda Center.
Trailing the best defensive team in the Western Hockey League by two goals midway through the game, the Winterhawks left the arena winners thanks to a last-minute tying goal and an overtime winner. And they left the building alone atop the U.S. Division.
Jaydon Dureau tied the game with 56 seconds left and Reece Newkirk won it in overtime as Portland beat the Everett Silvertips in dramatic fashion, thrilling a crowd of 6,105 and getting a winning performance from goalie Isaiah DiLaura.
The win improves the Winterhawks to 21-6-1-2 (45 points). The Silvertips are 21-6-2-0 (44 points). Portland has won all three games between the teams this season.
Newkirk had a three-point night, assisting on both goals before zipping a wrister past Everett goalie Dustin Wolf with 23 seconds left in overtime.
The winner came after DiLaura made three of his 24 saves during an Everett two-minute four-on-three power play in overtime.
The win was special for DiLaura. The 19-year-old from Saint Paul, Minnesota, was 0-2-0-1 in three starts as Joel Hofer's backup this season.
"All the guys in the locker room were just happy for me," DiLaura said. "I battle hard every day in practice and they were just happy I could get the first win (with the Winterhawks)."
DeLaura — who figures to be busys while Hofer is at the World Juniors Championships with Canada — admitted limited playing time can challenge a goalie's confidence, and that he worked through some early jitters in his first appearance since a Nov. 16 shootout loss to Seattle.
"When you get your chance you've got to make the most of it," DiLaura said. "(The win) just gives me a whole lot of confidence going into these next few games."
That confidence should be flowing through a Winterhawks team that has won five in a row heading into a Saturday game at Tri-City and a 5 p.m. Sunday game at Moda Center against Seattle, games that lead into the 10-day break for the holidays.
Everett came to Portland after four consecutive road wins and with a record of 11-2 away from home. And the Silvertips led 2-0 after Justyn Gurney cashed in a Winterhawks giveaway in the first period and Bryce Kindopp scored his 21st of the seson, an unassisted goal entering the zone one on three and shooting through a partial screen.
A give-and-go play between Robbie Fromm-Delorme and Newkirk off the rush gave Portland life midway through the second period. Fromm-Delorme carried the puck across the blue line and lifted a pass ahead onto Newkirk's stick behind the defense. Newkirk flipped a nifty back-hand pass back to Fromm-Delorme, who used his backhand to sweep the puck into the open net.
Still — despite controlling significant stretches of the second and third periods — Portland was staring at a tough loss as the clock ticked under a minute.
With DiLaura on the bench for an extra attacker, Ludvig made a terrific effort at the left point to keep the puck in the attacking zone.
"What was going through my mind was, 'Don't let this puck get out, no matter what.' So I went down on all fours and did everything I could to keep it in and the guys made a great play to get the goal there," he said.
Newkiirk collected the puck and sent it to Tyson Kozak down low and his cross-crease pass was one-timed past Wolf by a falling Dureau.
Dureau took a slashing penalty in overtime, but thanks to two brave blocked shots by Ludvig and steady play from DiLaura, the Silvertips were denied the winner.
Late in overtime, Everett's Gage Gonclaves was called for a holding penalty as Seth Jarvis was driving hard to the goal.
Coach Mike Johnston used his timeout to set up the plan for Portland's power play, which had 52 seconds to work with.
"When we got that power play, we all said, 'We're scoring. Nothing else is going to happen,'" Ludvig said. "Reece made an amazing shot there.
Newkirk carried the puck off the left wall and had space to shoot from the top of the circle. With two Silvertips reacting late and with Jake Gricius camped in front of Wolf, the Everett goalie was screened and didn't react as the puck rippled the net and set off an emotional celebration with Newkirk and teammates skating right to DiLaura.
Both teams were missing several key players. Portland was without Hofer, forward Simon Knak (Switzerland) and defensemanJonas Brondberg (Denmark) because of international play. Among the forwards not available for Everett was Slovakian winger Martin Fasko-Rudas.
The way Ludvig sees it, Friday's game was a significant test for a Portland team with less experience than Everett.
"It was awesome to see our group never quit," Ludvig said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.