The Portland Winterhawks continued their late season push into the 2010 postseason with a 4-3 overtime win over the Chilliwack Bruins last night at the Prospera Centre in Chilliwack.
Ryan Johansen had two goals, including the OT winner, to lead the Hawks attack and it broke a six game losing streak in Chilliwack for the Hawks who hadn’t won in the ‘Wack since October 22, 2006.
Early turning point in the game when Taylor Peters scored less than 20 seconds after Chilliwack had taken a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the opening period. Stefan Schneider made a perfect stretch pass to Peters who scored to even the score and turn the momentum just that quick.
This one would have been over earlier had it not been for some spectacular saves by Bruins netminder Lucas Gore. He robbed Luca Sbisa and Ty Rattie on great chances in tight during the first period and then another save on a quick cross crease pass play to Johansen in the second.
Mac Carruth was also solid, earning his third consecutive win in net for Portland. Carruth is now 12-4-0-1 in his last 16 decisions and is showing great poise and presence for a 17 year old rookie goaltender in the WHL.
After starting with the same line combinations as the past two games, Mike Johnston reunited the “four letter word” line of Johansen centering Nino Niederreiter and Brad Ross halfway through the first and on their first shift back together, they combined on a pretty three-way passing play that put the Hawks up 2-1 in the first period.
Oliver Gabriel moved onto the line with Luke Walker and Chris Francis and that trio scored in the second period to extend the lead to 3-1, but two breakaway goals in the third period that would send it to overtime.
The Bruins fans were upset at the tripping call on Kevin Sundher that gave the Hawks the power play in the overtime, but it was really a no-brainer call. Sundher put the stick between the legs of Taylor Aronson behind the Hawks goal as he was down on the ice for the obvious tripping minor.
Portland has now scored four overtime goals this season, with three coming on the power play and the Hawks are now three for six on power plays in overtime in 2009-10.
The Hawks will finish up the regular season tonight against the Seattle Thunderbirds at the ShoWare Center in Kent. A win will give the Hawks 91 points on the season. If Portland wins and Spokane loses their next two, the Hawks will have home ice advantage in the first round. If Spokane gets at least one point, the Chiefs will earn home ice.
It is now a certainty that the Chiefs will be the Hawks first round opponent as Spokane can catch Everett in points, but the Silvertips have the tie-breaker over Spokane.
Also, the Hawks know that they will finish ahead of Vancouver in points which would mean that if the Hawks advance to round 2, they’ll have home ice over Vancouver in that round. The top four teams from the Western Conference are all from the U.S. Division.
Pre-game show starts at 6:40 tonight on Freedom 970 KCMD with yours truly and Todd Vrooman…
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