Each Game Day Winterhawks’ play-by-play voice Todd Vrooman will be giving you notes pertaining to that night’s matchup. Tonight, he looks at the Hawks visiting the Spokane Chiefs. Follow along to tonight’s game live in our Game Center.
The Winterhawks have put on a show in each of their last two games in the Moda Center. Last night Joachim Blichfeld was the hero, scoring twice in the third period to erase a two goal deficit, then deking out Spokane goaltender Dawson Weatherill and flipping home the winner in the shootout as the Hawks prevailed 5-4. Blichfeld now has points in four straight, and since returning to the Hawks from the World Junior Championships has recorded nine goals and 18 points in 15 games.
Cole Kehler came on in relief for the Winterhawks and shut the door in his 33 minutes of work. He stopped all 17 shots he faced in regulation and overtime, and added three stops in the shootout to preserve the Hawks’ win. Portland have a 3-2 record in the shootout this season, a nice return considering the Hawks have only three shootout goals this season. Kehler’s been exceptional in the circus, stopping 17 of 20 shots faced for a fantastic 85% save percentage.
With the win, the Hawks opened up a double-digit lead on the Spokane Chiefs in the standings once more. The Hawks lead Spokane by 10 points for the second wild card, and are now looking at the Tri-City Americans ahead of them in the standings by just two points. The Hawks have clawed their way into the conversation not only for third in the division, but the higher reaches as well. While the Hawks are still big outsiders for potentially getting home-ice advantage in round one, they are closer to second placed Everett (9 point deficit) than they are to 5th place Spokane (10 point lead).
Tonight’s matchup with Seattle is the eighth of 12 meetings between the Hawks and the Thunderbirds. The two teams will faceoff again next Saturday and Sunday, before facing off with the Thunderbirds twice in March. Four of the remaining matchups will be shown live on Portland’s CW 32, including tonight. The Hawks have won five of the seven meetings thus far, and handed Seattle their only dropped point in their last 11 games. The Thunderbirds are now tops in the U.S. Division, and are 10-0-0-1 in their last 11 games.