Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland (0-1) vs. Spokane (1-0) – First Round, Game #2
After falling in Game One, the Hawks have another chance on home-ice tonight to pick up their first postseason win of the year. Portland came back from one-goal down three times last night but it was Spokane winning in overtime. Puckdrop is at 5:00 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
PREVIOUS GAME: The Winterhawks came-back from one goal down three times against the Chiefs to send game one to overtime, but it was Luke Toporowski scoring 2:15 into the extra-frame to win it for Spokane. It was the Chiefs who got on the board first. Spokane defender Nolan Reid wired one past Cole Kehler to make it 1-0 Chiefs.
The score would remain that way until the second period, when Dennis Cholowski took a sweet feed from Cody Glass to tie things at one. But just 24 seconds later, Riley Woods gave Spokane a one-goal lead once again after burying a Jake McGrew pass from below the goal-line. Portland would come right back however, as just over four minutes later, defenseman Henri Jokiharju fired a shot past Chiefs goaltender Bailey Brkin to make it 2-2. But again, the Chiefs would take the lead, this time Hudson Elynuik got one past Kehler to give Spokane the 3-2 lead. With under three minutes left in the period, Dennis Cholowski scored on a gorgeous wrap-around goal, for his second of the game, to tie things at three.
The third period was scoreless and the two teams would head to overtime. In the extra-frame, Kieffer Bellows nearly won it for Portland in the first minute, but Brkin denied him on the doorstep to keep the Chiefs in it. Moments later, Luke Toporowki drove towards the Hawks net and backhanded the puck off the stick of Henri Jokiharju and in. With the goal, the Chiefs take a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-seven first round series. Cole Kehler made 35 saves on the night for Portland.
TODAY’S OPPONENT: It was rookie forward Luke Toporowski playing hero for the Chiefs last night. Toporowski scored the overtime winner just over two minutes into the extra-frame to finish off a three-point night. The speed of some of the Chiefs forwards was very apparent throughout the entire game, with Toporowski, Eli Zummack, Kailer Yamamoto and Jarret Anderson-Dolan all creating chances for themselves using their great speed. The Hawks defenders will have to do a better job getting in the way of the Spokane forwards tonight.
An area where the Chiefs really shined were the shifts immediately after the Hawks had scored. Riley Woods buried a goal just 24 seconds after Portland initially tied it at one, and Spokane had several other great shifts after Portland goals. The Chiefs ability to retake the momentum after Portland had scored a big goal was perhaps a main reason the Hawks never led in the game.
While it wasn’t always pretty, Chiefs goaltender Bailey Brkin got the job done and then some last night for Spokane. The rookie netminder made 36 saves, including a massive denial on Kieffer Bellows early in overtime. It was only Brkin’s eighth game with the Chiefs last night, but coming away with the victory, he did more than enough to earn another start tonight.
WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Dennis Cholowski had one of his best games in his WHL career last night. The Detroit Red Wings prospect had two goals, including an outstanding wraparound goal to tie things at three late in the period. It was Cholowski’s first WHL playoff game, but clearly nerves were not a problem.
Kieffer Bellows was a threat to score the entire night. The New York Islanders prospect had two assists in the game and a handful of chances to score, including a fantastic opportunity in overtime. Bellows had 41 goals in the regular season, and if he continues to play like he did last night, it’s just a matter of time until he buries his first WHL postseason marker.
STAT OF THE DAY: Going back to the regular season, the Hawks have had a defenseman score in five of their last seven games. Including five goals from Henri Jokiharju, two from Brendan De Jong, and two to Dennis Cholowski, both coming last night.
3/24/18 – Game 1 – Spokane 4 at Portland 3 (OT)
3/25/18 – Game 2 – Spokane at Portland
3/28/18 – Game 3 – Portland at Spokane
3/29/18 – Game 4 – Portland at Spokane
3/31/18 – Game 5* – Spokane at Portland
4/2/18 – Game 6* – Portland at Spokane
4/3/18 – Game 7* – Spokane at Portland