The Portland Winterhawks (43-23-2-4) closed out the regular season Sunday with a 5-3 win over the Tri-City Americans (31-38-0-3) in front of 7,560 fans at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Tri-Cities opened the scoring 8:02 into the game on a goal by Tyler Morrison, but the Hawks evened it at 10:52 when Oliver Bjorkstrand took a feed from Nic Petan and fired it past netminder Evan Sarthou for his 62nd of the season and a 1-1 tie, which remained the score going into the second.
The Hawks took a lead at 10:56 on a power play when Paul Bittner collected a rebound in front of the net and banged it past Sarthou for a 2-1 lead, but 44 seconds later the Americans evened it on a goal from Richard Nejezchleb to make it 2-2.
Portland broke the deadlock at 12:06 of the third when Chase De Leo slid the puck past Sarthou for a 3-2 lead. With 1:06 to go Nic Petan scored shorthanded into an empty net to make it 4-2, but 23 seconds later Maxwell James scored for the Americans on the power play to get back within one at 4-3.
With the Americans’ net empty once again, Bjorkstrand sealed the win with his 63rd of the season and a 5-3 Hawks win.
With three points tonight, Oliver Bjorkstrand finishes the season as the league leader in both goals (63) and points (118). It’s the second time in three seasons a Winterhawk has led the league in scoring after Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic paced the WHL with 120 points apiece in the 2012-13 campaign.
Prior to the game, the team handed out their annual awards. Oliver Bjorkstrand won the MVP Award, as voted on by his teammates, the team’s Leading Scorer Award and the Booster Club Fan Favorite Award. Nic Petan won the Winterhawk Award for the player who embodies character, leadership, heart and soul as voted on by the coaches, while goaltender Adin Hill took home the Rookie of the Year Award.
Dominic Turgeon won the Sportsmanship & Ability Award, while defenseman Anton Cederholm won Best Defensive Player Award. Additionally, Josh Hanson and Alex Overhardt were named the team’s Scholastic Players of the Year.
The Hawks will open postseason play Saturday when they host the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 1 of the 2015 Parklane Mattresses Winterhawks Playoffs at 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.