The Portland Winterhawks are glad to see December in their rear view mirror. Thy won just two of their 13 games in the month and watch a tight grip of the U.S. Division slip away in a hurry. After scoring a goal with under a minute left and the goalie pulled to tie the game and force overtime, the Winterhawks did get a point out of this game, bur missed out on the second one they sorely needed right now.
The Thunderbirds dominated overtime on Friday night in Kent and scored a highlight-reel winner. This time the Winterhawks held off the T-birds attack in the extra session, but fell in the skills competition to Noah Philp and Liam Hughes. Philp was the lone skater to net a shootout marker, while Hughes would not be beaten on three chances by Cody Glass, Ryan Hughes and Skyler McKenzie.
Glass, who returned to the lineup after a one-game absence, made his mark felt with two assists. Seattle was led by defenseman Turner Ottenbreit, who also had two apples.
Portland opened the scoring 2:22 into the second period on the power play. Glass found McKenzie above the right face off dot and the 19-year-old sniper hammered a one-timer by Seattle goalie Hughes. The goal was his fourth in three games and 27th this year.
Seattle tied the game on a power play of their own. Defenseman Reece Harsch skated unabated right to the net on the rush and beat Portland goalie Cole Kehler over his glove. It was Harsch’s eighth this year.
Import forward Nikita Malukhin gave Seattle their first lead 37 seconds later. Malukhin won a battle in the crease for a loose puck and got two whacks at it, with the second one going in. The goal was his fourth this year with all four coming in December.
With 5:55 left in the middle frame, a heads up pass from John Ludvig sent Reece Newkirk in alone and the 16-year-old beat Hughes on the breakaway for his second ever in the WHL.
Matthew Wedman staked Seattle to another lead with 3:03 left and again it came on a puck battle won in tight on Kehler. Wedman tipped a shot on Kehler and then found the rebound, backhanding it by the downed goalie.
It looked like Seattle would take this in regulation, until Ryan Hughes found a loose puck in the middle of a scramble of bodies and beat Seattle’s Hughes with a low shot.
Philp put a head fake on Kehler in the shoot out and that would be the difference. Seattle has now won the last two meetings with Portland and the Hawks are now 2-0-1-1 in their season series.
Portland will play in Spokane on Friday, while Seattle heads to Kelowna for a game that same night.