After a crushing loss a couple of nights before, the Portland Winterhawks came back to home and familiar territory with a match against the BC Division leading Vancouver Giants.
The game was a playoff-type affair with only three penalties called in the game, one to the Giants and two on Portland with neither team successful.
The teams were tied at zero as they headed into the first intermission. Joachim Blichfeld scored the only goal midway through the second period on a wraparound. Early in the third period, Reece Newkirk received a pass from Joachim Blichfeld and buried it past Trent Miner for the Winterhawks second goal. Late in the third period with the net empty, Vancouver had a few great chances in front, but they were robbed by Shane Farkas.
Jake Gricius intercepted a Vancouver pass and sprung Mason Mannek, but Manneck was tied up heading into the Giants zone.
Mannek was able to find Reece Newkirk, who found lots of twine to give the Hawks a 3-0 shutout and the same in the series with that last game headed to Vancouver in mid-February.
Portland’s win kept it still seven back of Everett as it beat Seattle, 5-2, and Spokane shut out Kelowna, 4-0. Portland held a 29-24 shot advantage and saw Newkirk, Blichfeld and Farkas as the game’s stars.
The next night, Spokane had to travel to Portland to face the Hawks with a great deal of revenge on Portland’s mind. Spokane struck first on the powerplay and saw the Hawks tie it up just over a minute later by Lane Gilliss.
The middle of the first period saw Joachim Blichfeld take a Major for Interference and a Game Misconduct, which left the Hawks without a sniper in the game. The Hawks were able to kill off the penalty and take the lead at the end of the frame with a goal by Jared Freadrich which gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead at the end of one.
John Ludvig scored just 30 seconds into the second period, Spokane with two goals midway through the period tied the game again, but Cross Hanas was able to convert Portland’s only powerplay goal two minutes later to give the Hawks the lead again. Spoakne switched goaltenders with Bailey Brkin giving way to Reece Klassen.
Early in the third period, Matthew Quigley bumped the Hawks up by a pair. Spokane was able to score a pair in the third including a powerplay goal, which knotted the game at five.
Overtime took place and the Hawks controlled the pace, but they were unable to get one past Klassen, which pushed the game into a shootout. Jaret Anderson-Dolan was the only Chief to get one past Joel Hofer while Reece Newkirk and Jake Gricius countered for Portland, which saw them take the win by a 6-5 margin. Portland was outshot 40-29 by Spokane and went one for four on the man advantage while giving Spokane two goals on five chances.
Portland remans seven points back of Everett and holds an 11-point difference on Spokane while giving the Chiefs a two game advantage. as they get ready for the home stretch with just 17 games left. Portland now embarks on a US Division road trip, which ends on the weekend as they look to take some points in three four point nights.
What four points means is a win is two points and against a division opponent it is two points they don’t get to move in the standings. Should Portland end with at least two wins, they win inch that much closer to top spot.