Staff report: Simon Knak scores twice, Joel Hofer big again as Portland posts its 31st win of WHL season

Simon Knak scored twice and Joel Hofer made 39 saves as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Spokane Chiefs 5-3 in Western Hockey League action on Friday at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

Hofer was especially good in the third period, when his 15 saves helped Portland blank three Spokane power plays. The Chiefs finished 0 for 7 on the power play, including a key 59 seconds of two-man advantage with the Hawks up two in the third period.

Tyson Kozak, Lane Gilliss and Robbie Fromm-Delorme also scored as Portland improved to 31-6-2-3 (67 points) and remains atop the U.S. Division with the WHL's best record.

Spokane, which has lost all three home games against Portland this season, is 22-15-4-1 (49 points).

Knak scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season to spearhead the Winterhawks. He used his speed to swoop to the front of the goal and open the scoring 4:01 into the first period. His second goal came 61 seconds into the third period to break a 2-2 tie. Jonas Brondberg carried the puck into the zone and passed the puck to an open Knak in the slot.

Knak also assisted on Tyson Kozak's tying goal late in the second period.

Gilliss scored his 11th of the season from in close at the end of a power-play rush to make it 4-2 Portland 4:13 into the third period.

Adam Beckman's league-leading 32nd goal off a broken play pulled the Chiefs within one goal with 3:06 remaining. Eli Zummack and Ty Smith also scored for Spokane, which led 2-1 midway through the second period.

Fromm-Delorme sealed the win for Portland with an empty-net goal from inside his own blue line with 1:21 remaining.

Spokane, buoyed by seven power plays, outshot Portland 42-37. The Winterhawks were 1 for 3 on the power play. Chiefs goalie Lukas Parik made 32 saves.

With Mike Johnston away on a scouting trip, associate coach Kyle Gustafson earned his first official WHL coaching win. Johnston will rejoin his team on Saturday, when Portland plays host to Kelowna at 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Winterhawks are home at 6 p.m. Saturday and at 5 p.m. Sunday against Kelowna. Both games are at veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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