First off…thanks to Mick White at Kent Valley Sports for the photos…
The Portland Winterhawks, after a tough first period, returned to the form that we saw earlier in the season as they came from behind to defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-4 at the ShoWare Center in Kent, WA.
The Hawks were led by Nino Niederreiter, who scored twice and added two helpers for a four point night. Nino now has five goals and seven points in his last three games and is making himself a candidate for the WHL Player of the Week.
Taylor Aronson also chipped in with his first two goals of his WHL career, both on power plays and both in tight on Seattle netminder Calvin Pickard, including the game winner in the third period.
Aronson has been a steady, stay at home type, for most of the season being paired with Troy Rutkowski. On the power play, the Hawks have moved him down low on the play with the umbrella set-up and last night Aronson was in the right place at the right time for the first one and then made a premier move in the corner to free himself to drive to the front and bang it home.
The only downside to the game was the continued struggles of the penalty kill unit as Seattle was able to score two goals on three opportunities (one on a five-on-three) in the first period to take a 3-1 lead after one period.
The ‘Birds extended the lead to 4-1 after a questionable penalty shot call for Jeremy Schappert. Schappert, who now has a ten game point streak working, made no mistake on the penalty shot to give his team a three goal cushion.
After that, the Hawks got a big goal from Jacob Berglund on an odd-man rush, set up by the newest Hawk Eric Doyle, and Aronson’s power play tap in.
The third period was, after the Hawks took the lead, desperation time for Portland and they continuosly threw themselves in front of entry shots, the best maybe being Riley Boychuk’s sliding block of a Sena Acolatse’s laser, and they helped preserve Ian Curtis’ eighth win of the season.
Doyle was good in his Hawks debut, posting the one assist and a +3 on the night. He showed a cannon of a point shot and poise in his own zone, exactly what you’d expect from a veteran of 269 WHL games.
Lastly, it was good to see Tayler Jordan in his two scraps in the second period against Scott Ramsay and Mitch Elliot. They were two of the best scraps of the year as it was lean back and throw ’em and it helped Portland hold onto the momentum after scoring twice in the second period.
The same two teams will do battle in the Teddy Bear Toss game at the Rose Garden…hope it has the same intensity…
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