Dayna Fjord

Winterhawks ride big third period to close out big weekend

Alex Overhardt does not score goals, but when he does they are game winners. Overhardt’s goal midway through the third period allowed the Portland Winterhawks to come back from a 3-2 deficit and escape with a 5-3 win over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday evening. 

The game winner was Overhardt’s sixth this year. With 13 goals overall, that means that nearly half of those decided games.

Joachim Blichfled had two goals and an assist and Dennis Cholowski and Jake Gricius each had two assists in the win.

The win was Portland’s fifth straight and keeps them two points behind the Everett Silvertips for first in the U.S. Division.

Dillon Hamaliuk built off of a solid game Saturday in Kent, by opening the scoring. He took a great feed from Noah Philp, got a step on Portland defenseman John Ludvig and filed a shot by goalie Shane Farkas.

Portland tied things up while short handed. Joachim Blichfeld read the puck cycling around and picked Austin Strand’s pocket at the Portland blue line. He then skated in on Seattle goalie Dorrin Luding and beat him low on the glove side.

Seattle took their lead back with 49 seconds left in the frame. Turner Ottenbreit found some space on the power play and drilled a low slap shot by Farkas. The goal was his seventh of the year, matching a career high. It also was his 33rd point, which is a new career high.

In the second period, the hard work that the line of Jake Gricius, Lane Gilliss and Mason Mannek has been putting in recently finally resulted in a goal. Gricius drove hard around the Seattle net and threw the puck in front. Gilliss fought for the puck and poked home his fourth of the year.

Seattle again took the lead on the power play with one minute left in the second. Ottebnreit drew the defense this time and passed the puck over on the left wing to an open Austin Strand. The one-timer from strand was tipped past Farkas by Matthew Wedman for the 3-2 lead and Wedman’s 13th of the year.

Seattle held onto their 3-2 lead, powered by two power play goals, until there was 11:12 left in regulation.

While on a power play of their own, Gricius again powered into the Seattle zone and this time dropped a pass to Ryan Hughes. The Winterhawks left winger’s shot was blocked by Tyson Terreta, but Hughes scooped up the rebound and filed one by Luding.

Later in the third, Portland took their first lead of the game. Alex Overhardt poked the puck to himself into the neutral zone and went in on a two-on-one with Blichfeld. He was able to get the puck over to Blichfeld but the Dane was stopped by a diving Luding. Overhardt was quick on the rebound through and roofed a backhand shot by the T-birds goalie. It was his 13th this year and stands as the winner.

Blichfeld then iced the game with an empty netter, his second goal of the game.

Farkas was not tested often in the third period, as Portland won the shot battle 17-4, but he got the win. He stopped 19 of 22 overall. This was his third win in as many starts.

Luding turned away 31 of 35 for Seattle.

The Thunderbirds went 2-for-4 on the power play, while Portland went 0-for-4.

Portland sits fourth overall in the WHL with 72 points.

Seattle dropped all three games on the weekend, getting just one out of a possible six points. They dropped down to the second wild card spot, only six points above the Kamloops Blazers.

Portland hosts the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday, while Seattle next plays when they host Everett on Friday.