Marcel Noebels scored the overtime winner as the Portland Winterhawks earned a 5-4 win over the Tri-City Americans in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final Friday in Kennewick, WA.
It was the second straight game-winning goal for Noebels, whose goal 1:01 into Wednesday’s Game 7 against Kamloops was also a game-winner. Sven Bartschi set up the goal, scored 7:52 into the extra frame, with a terrific cross-ice pass. His assist on the play was his third point of the game, as he finished with a goal and two assists.
The game was scoreless until the final minute of the first, when Bartschi had a breakaway attempt turned away by Americans netminder Ty Rimmer, but Brendan Leipsic pounced on the rebound and scored with 20 seconds left in the frame to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead going into the second period. The goal extended Leipsic’s point streak to six games.
Tri-Cities tied the game when Brendan Shinnimin scored a power play goal at the 6:26 mark of the second, but Portland regained the lead just under two minutes later when Bartschi notched his sixth goal of the playoffs to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
They extended the lead to 3-1 at the 15:48 mark when Cam Reid beat Rimmer for his fourth of the postseason. The Americans’ Patrick Holland scored a power play goal with 1:21 remaining in the second period to cut Portland’s lead to 3-2 going into the third.
Tri-Cities tied the game 9:07 into the third when Holland scored his second power play goal of the game to even the score at 3-3. The tie would be short lived, as just under two minutes later while on a power play, Joe Morrow wired a slapshot from the point past Rimmer to regain a 4-3 lead.
Once again though, Tri-Cities would tie the game when Mitch Topping scored at the 15:09 mark to make it 4-4, and the score would remain tied, setting up Portland’s first overtime game of the playoffs.
Mac Carruth picked up the win in net, with 43 saves on 47 shots, including saves on all seven Tri-Cities shots in overtime. Rimmer made 26 saves on 31 Portland shots.
The two teams are back on the ice tomorrow night at 7 p.m. for Game 2.