(Kennewick, WA) The Tri-City Americans scored three power-play goals on Thursday night to help defeat the Portland Winterhawks 5-3 in WHL preseason action.
Despite the two teams playing one another less than a week prior, the starting lineups were missing several key players for each team
Both teams were without five players projected to be in their starting lineups come September 21st, also against one another.
Beck Warm (Washington), Kyle Olson (Buffalo), Krystof Hrabik (St. Louis), Sasha Mutala (Colorado), and Mitchell Brown (Minnesota) are representing the Americans at NHL camps.
Joel Hofer (St. Louis), Reece Newkirk (New York Islanders), Jake Gricius (San Jose), John Ludvig (Florida), and Clay Hanus (Ottawa) were away for the Winterhawks.
Americans head coach Kelly Buchberger said, “I thought a lot of our younger guys played really well. I think we had nine rookies in there tonight. I thought they executed well and competed hard for their jobs. They gave us a lot of good looks.”
Portland outshot Tri-City in the opening 20 minutes, but a pair of special-teams goals kept the score deadlocked at one.
Seth Jarvis netted his third of the preseason while the Winterhawks were a man short.
On the same power play, 37 seconds later, Connor Bouchard’s wrist shot got Portland’s netminder Dante Giannuzzi to even the score for the Americans.
Portland regained the lead when Simon Knak, Portland’s first round import draft selection, one-timed a Cross Hanas pass on a two-on-one rush for his first goal in a Winterhawks uniform.
Penalty trouble cost the Winterhawks in the second period as Paycen Bjorklund and Jan Cikhart each scored on the man advantage, helping the Americans take a 3-2 lead into the final frame.
Portland’s power play got the game tied again as overage forward Lane GIlliss found a loose puck in the slot and slid it by Talyn Boyko for his second of the preseason.
Boyko was again strong in net for the Americans after facing over 60 shots against Everett last weekend. The Drumheller, Alberta, native stopped 33 of Portland’s 36 shots on Thursday.
One area leading to his success was his rebound control as well preventing any rebounds at all. “I worked on (rebounds) a lot this summer,” Boyko said. “I thought I improved, and there is still room for improvement. The guys did a good job of clearing any rebounds tonight.”
Buchberger was pleased with his goaltender’s performance, especially on Portland’s 1:33 of five-on-three power play. “They had almost a full five-on-three, and we did a great job of killing that. Your goalie has to be your best penalty killer, and (Boyko) did the job tonight.”
Portland’s Nick Cicek and Paycen Bjorklund dropped the gloves early in the third period, which led to both players receiving game misconduct penalties for fighting in the preseason.
Connor Bouchard fought for a loose puck behind Portland’s net and won the race to the post to score the game-winning goal with just under six minutes to play.
Buchberger feels that “(Bouchard) brings it every night. He is a competitive player in practice and games. He is what he is, he is out there battling for every inch he gets, and he got rewarded tonight.”
Samuel Huo added his first of the preseason to give the Americans some breathing room and close out the game with a two-goal victory.
Ultimately, the Tri-City power play was the difference in the game.
“They decided to shoot the puck tonight, and that is a great choice,” Buchberger commented. “When you shoot the puck, and you get guys going to the net, you create some blue-paint battles and we won them tonight.”
Lane Gilliss referenced the number of penalties the Winterhawks took on Thursday. “Both teams didn’t really have a ton of experience out there. For us, we just have to focus on not taking so many penalties and just stay in the moment.”
Both teams play their second three-in-three of the preseason this weekend. Gilliss said, “If you want to play in this league, it is a lot of games a lot of the time. I think it is good to get some of the younger guys into that train of thought.”
Tri-City returns to the ice on Friday night against U.S. Division rival Seattle Thunderbirds, while Portland plays in the afternoon against the Spokane Chiefs.
– Winterhawks defenseman Nick Perna played his first game of the preseason after practicing in a non-contact jersey during training camp.
– Cicek’s fight was Portland’s second of the preseason.
– Sam Huo, Connor Bouchard, and Samuel Stewart wore the “A” on their jerseys on Thursday