Winterhawks win finale
The Portland Winterhawks finished the sprint of a 24-game Western Hockey League season on Tuesday with their fourth consecutive win, beating the Tri-City Americans 5-3 in Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Portland finishes 13-8-3-0, second behind Everett (19-4) in the U.S. Division. Tri-City, which had its season disrupted by a COVID-19 pause, finished 7-12-0-0 at the bottom of the division.
Winterhawks' 20-year-olds Nick Cicek and Mason Mannek combined on the opening goal of their final WHL game as Cicek scored his fifth of the season midway through the first period. A rebound from a Mannek shot fell to Cicek in the left-wing faceoff circle and he shot the puck past Tri-City goalie Mason Dunford.
"Scoring in my final game in Portland and the WHL, it's going to go down in my history book. I'll never forget that moment. A lot of emotions flowing after that one, for sure," Cicek said.
The score was 2-2 entering the third period.
Kishaun Gervais scored his first of the season on a Portland rush 4:10 into the third period.
Gabe Klassen's eighth of the season on a one-timer from the right wing circle set up by a Cicek feed doubled Portland's lead, a power-play goal at 10:03 of the third.
Tri-City climbed within a goal on a power-play goal from Nick Bowman with 4:37 left in the third period — just the eighth third-period goal of the season for the Americans.
A Jaydon Dureau empty-net goal with 1:39 remaining sealed the victory for Portland.
The game was the final in junior hockey for Winterhawk team captain Cicek, who had a goal and two assists. His five goals in 24 games this season were one more than he scored in 63 games last season. The defenseman from Winnipeg, Manitoba, played 138 regular-season games over three-plus seasons in Portland.
Mannek, from Herriman, Utah, had 10 goals and seven assists in this abbreviated season and finishes with 43 goals and 51 assists in 212 games over four seasons with the Winterhawks.
Mannek's family attended the game. Cicek's family, unable to travel from Canada because of COVID-19 restrictions, supported Nick with a video that was shown before the game.
Mannek and Cicek both said they hope for an opportunity to play professional hockey.
Defenseman Clay Hanus scored his first goal of the season on a power play early in the second period. Hanus contributed seven assists in six games. He and James Stefan, Jack O'Brien and Cross Hanas rejoin the Winterhawks after playing most of the season in the USHL.
Portland was 2 for 2 on the power play and 2 for 3 on the penalty kill.
Goalie Dante Giannuzzi made 17 saves for his ninth win of the season.
Portland dominated the shot counter 43-20, including 16-1 in the first period.
In addition to Cicek and Mannek, it was the final game in Portland for at least three of six 19-year-olds, who will be overage players in 2021-22. Those are forwards Dureau, Gervais, Reece Newkirk and defenseman Hanus, Kade Nolan and Jonas Brondberg.
Portland is set up for a strong 19-year-old group next season, including Seth Jarvis, who would return to Portland if he does not make the Carolina Hurricanes' roster. That group of 2002-born players also includes forwards Simon Knak (who had a breakout season), Cross Hanas, Robbie Fromm-Delorme and Tyson Kozak, defenseman Kurtis Smythe and goalie Giannuzzi.
• Tuesday also was the final game for Winterhawks equipment manager Mark "Peaches" Brennan, who is retiring. With the Winterhawks since 2012, Brennan worked 2,251 hockey games across multiple leagues in a career that began in 1983 with the WHL's New Westminster Bruins and included time with the Detroit Red Wings and the Florida Panthers in the NHL.
• The WHL on Tuesday, May 11, announced that during the 55-game U.S. Division season, there were only two positive tests for COVID-19 among 4,103 tests administered.
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