Friday marked the fifth meeting of the 2019-2020 season between the Tri-City Americans (14-24-4-1) and Portland Winterhawks (34-6-2-3). The first four games went in favor of Portland who currently sits atop the U.S. Division standings.
An eventful first period helped pace the Winterhawks to a 8-2 win, their 34th of the season, and 20th straight game with a point.
Six goals and two fights occurred in the game’s opening 20 minutes.
Seth Jarvis has been red-hot of late with 19 points in his last seven games. Friday was no different as the 2002-born winger left with five points.
The Winterhawks went on the power play just 52 seconds into the contest. Reece Newkirk scored the first goal of the game nine seconds later.
Mason Mannek and Paycen Bjorklund got into a fight six seconds following the goal. Both were given game misconducts in addition to their five minutes for fighting. Mike Johnston said the explanation he received was due to a “staged fight. Off the faceoff two guys have to participate in the play. You just can’t stand with the guy and just jump into a fight.”
About five minutes later Jarvis found the back of the net for the 23rd time in his second full season in the WHL. Linemate Jaydon Dureau won a battle at center and pushed the puck to Jarvis. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native used his speed to get around the defenseman. Starting goalie Mason Dunsford made the initial save before Jarvis tucked the puck in off the far post.
A second Portland power play led to the third goal of the night. Cross Hanas held the puck below the goal line before finding import forward Simon Knak to the left of Dunsford for a one-time goal.
The two power-play goals were key for Johnston, “That was really important. We had our main two power play units together for the first period. I thought they executed well and were a real threat. Then we juggled some things, some other guys playing the power play later in the game.”
Krystof Hrabik responded for the Americans 17 seconds later. The newly named captain was strong on the forecheck and the puck went to Sasha Mutala. The Colorado Avalanche draft pick passed to Hrabik who beat Joel Hofer up high.
Jack O’Brien’s eighth goal of the season capped off a series of three goals scored within 42 seconds. Jarvis had his head up to send a pass to the 16-year-old rookie.
Tyson Kozak and Bryan McAndrews dropped the gloves after a disagreement with 4:00 left in the first period.
16 seconds after the fight, Dureau became the fifth different Winterhawk to find the back of the net, again, the primary assist to Seth Jarvis, his fourth point of the frame.
The second period saw three shots find the twine.
Defenseman Nick Cicek whistled a shot from the point which got through traffic. However, he gave all the credit to Dureau, “Jaydon made a great play really, it was all him. He walked in, took on three defenders, and sent it back to me. I just took a shot from the point and luckily it went in.”
“(Cicek) does all those little gritty things throughout a game whether it is blocking shots, fights, hits, steps in for guys,” Jarvis said. “When you get to see a guy like that put a puck in the net, and put some points on the board, it is awesome.”
The Americans forced a turnover in the Portland zone near the blue line. Tyson Greenway found Blake Stevenson cutting to the front of the net. The 18-year-old forward closed the gap to 6-2 with his sixth goal of the season.
The star of the night, Jarvis, reached a milestone 11:38 into the second period. His second goal on Friday gave him 100 points in his WHL career. The 2020 NHL Draft eligible only needed 112 games to accomplish the feat.
When asked about what 100 points meant to him, Jarvis expressed, “It is cool, but its about my teammates. Dureau, and Newy (Newkirk) last year, and then (O’Brien) this year, playing with all those guys is unbelievable. Dureau had a great night again, so I think just playing with those guys getting me the puck helped. I think that speed is our biggest asset. Dureau and I really try to push the pace, then O’Brien is a smart and skilled player so he makes the plays, makes the passes. When Dureau and I open up that space for him good things happen.”
Ronin Geraghty, a 2004-born affiliate player for Tri-City, was called into his first WHL action with 15:38 on the clock. Dunsford left the game stopping 26-of-32 shots.
Hailing from Burnaby, British Columbia, Geraghty has been playing in the CSSBHL this season. The five-foot-ten, 179 pound goalie stopped 15-of-16 second period shots.
To start the third period Mike Johnston put Dante Giannuzzi in net replacing Joel Hofer. After 40 minutes Hofer stopped 11-of-13 Tri-City shots.
“Joel is fine,” Johnston said. “We are definitely going to play him (Saturday) night. I thought any time if you can get a break, or give him a period off, and let Dante have some experience. It was just a weird game for a starting goaltender in there when you don’t get a shot for seven or eight minutes and then you get a breakaway or a two-on-one, that is pretty hard on him.”
The Americans had an opportunity on the power play with a four minute double-minor for high sticking. However, the Winterhawks capitalized with Newkirk and Jake Gricius partnering together. Gricius made a strong move inside the zone and the puck found Newkirk. Rather than shooting himself, the New York Islanders draft pick sent a pass back to Gricius for a tap-in goal.
The Winterhawks registered 64 shots on net and the Americans finished the evening with 19.
Jarvis mentioned the game plan was to focus on getting “a high volume of shots. When that other goalie stepped in he played pretty well for being so young. I just think the shots just overwhelmed (Tri-City) tonight.”
Portland travels to Kent for a game against the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday. Cicek is looking for the Winterhawks to replicate how they opened the game on Friday, “We have to have that quick start, a quick start in that building always helps us.”
Meanwhile, Tri-City returns home to face their rival Spokane Chiefs.
– Due to injuries, Tri-City was only able to dress 16 skaters (11 forwards and 5 defensemen). Defenseman Luke Zazula participated in warmups, but did not dress for the game.
– Portland went 2-for-6 on the man advantage while Tri-City did not convert on either of their two attempts (one four minute double minor).
– All four goalies appeared in Friday’s game – Hofer (40 minutes, 11-of-13), Giannuzzi (20 minutes, 6-of-6), Dunsford (24:22, 27-of-33), and Geraghty (35:28, 29-of-31).
– Seth Jarvis is on an eight game points streak totaling 24 points (9G, 15A).