With less than half a season to go, every win or loss is crucial for teams looking to reach the postseason.
After a tough Eastern Swing and a couple of good tests following the swing, the Portland Winterhawks played in three games over three nights with a bit of travel to the 2nd game.
The first opposition was the Swift Current Broncos, a team holding on to a playoff spot but being chased by a couple of other teams and five points back of the sixth spot.
Against the Hawks, Swift Current drew first blood five minutes into the game. Seven minutes later, Chaz Luscius scored to even the troops. Early in the second stanza, Swift Current did it again with a reply from Chaz Luscius with his second of the night seven minutes later.
James Stefan, on the powerplay, and Robbie Fromm-Delorme, near the end of the period, put the Hawks up by a pair heading to the third.
Swift Current scored midway through the third period and pulled their netminder. Empty net goals by Luca Cagnoni and James Stefan sealed the deal for Portland with a 6-3 final. Portland’s 45-28 shots on goal also saw them lead on the powerplay 1 for 5 and shutting down the four tries of Swift Current.
The next night it was action at the accesso Showare Center with the Winterhawks and Thunderbirds on TV in the I-5 rivalry.
Luca Cagnoni started things for the Hawks, and despite the Thunderbirds’ strong play in outshooting the Hawks 11-4 in the opening frame, they could only muster a goal midway through the period.
Just 25 seconds into the second, Cagnoni bagged his second on the night, and Chaz Luscius added another midway through the period to increase the lead to 3-1.
Just over a minute and a half later, recently acquired Nolan Allan scored to bring Seattle within one.
Jack O’Brien scored for the Hawks just over a minute later, and the night was capped off with a long shot from deep in the Winterhawks zone into the empty net by Robbie Fromm-Delorme.
This is only Seattle’s second loss at home, and both have now come at the hands of the Winterhawks. Seattle outshot Portland 38-25, and both had two chances with the man advantage with them all snuffed out.
To Portland again, where another TV matchup saw the Spokane Chiefs battle the Hawks.
With three in as many nights, you could see tired as the Hawks didn’t seem as punchy as they had been the first two nights. Thankfully Spokane is having a rough year. The Chiefs got on the board first just before the fifteen-minute mark.
Midway through the second, James Stefan scored on the powerplay for the Hawks, followed by a Spokane marker toward the end of the period.
Into the third, Spokane scored an early goal to put the Hawks on the ropes. Ryan McCleary responded for Portland with just over four minutes left in regulation.
Dante Gianuzzi was pulled from the net, and with just 17 seconds left, Chaz Lusciius scored to send the game into overtime.
Marek Alscher was the hero for the Hawks just over three minutes into the extra period, and the Hawks won again 4-3. Shots favored Portland 45-28, and both teams scored once on the powerplay, with Portland gaining 4 tries and Spokane 3.
The Hawks have now won six straight and lead the Thunderbirds by three points, but give Seattle two games in hand. The Hawks have not lost since returning from the Eastern Swing,
Next up for the Hawks are games in Kamloops versus the Memorial Cup host Blazers, who went heavy at the trade deadline, and then a matchup against Tri-City, returning home to face the same Americans the following night at home.