Coming off a decisive victory on Wednesday night, the Winterhawks prepare for three straight games against the Tri-City Americans. Saturday night begins the first of five straight games against U.S. Division opponents.
Puck Drop: 7:05 p.m.
Venue: Toyota Center
Watch: WHL Live
PREVIOUS GAME – Winterhawks 7 at Victoria 2: The Hawks responded with a monster win in Victoria, beating the Royals 7-2. Portland surged to seven straight goals to end the night.
The Royals took the first lead of the night just over six minutes into the game. Ty Yoder received a backdoor pass and shoveled it through Farkas’ pad on the post to score his first Western Hockey League goal. Later in the period, Scott Walford, in transition, tossed in a puck to the back bar of the Hawks’ net to give them a 2-0 lead.
Before the end of the first, Michal Kvasnica had a grade-A opportunity to cut into the lead, but Griffen Outhouse tracked the puck well and made a big save to keep Portland off the scoreboard.
The rest of the night, however, belonged to the Hawks as they went on to score seven unanswered. Ryan Hughes drilled in a wrist shot to put the Hawks on the board six minutes into the second period. A minute later, Seth Jarvis joined the rush and tucked in the tying goal at two apiece.
On the power play, Hughes helped give Portland the lead with his second of the night and his team continued to dominate offensively. Before the period’s end, Blichfeld scored with Jake Gricius on a two-on-one shorthanded rush.
Special teams play continued to play a factor in the third period. Jaydon Dureau was rewarded with an open net goal after Jarvis got Griffen Outhouse moving to make it 5-2. The Winterhawks finished the night with a pair of power play goals. Portland won a puck battle on the post and worked it in front for Reece Newkirk to bury his first of the game and third point. Blichfeld scored off the draw moments later and one-timed in a shot from the high slot.
Nine players registered at least one point for the Winterhawks in their last game, scoring seven straight goals in the win. This weekend will be the team’s first head-t0-head meeting since late September, when the Americans won 6-5 in a shootout. Tri-City scored two, third period goals to force overtime in the comeback effort.
Prior to beating Lethbridge in overtime last weekend, the Americans lost six straight games. They sit eight games back of the Winterhawks in the division, but have played three fewer games heading to the holiday break.
Tri-City will have to slow down a powerful offense led by Joachim Blichfeld (61 points) this weekend. Goaltender Beck Warm has allowed three or more goals in his last five starts and gave up five against the Hawks earlier this season on 28 shots. He’s started 27 of the team’s 29 games this season.
From an offensive productivity, the Americans have four players with over 30 points on the year led by Nolan Yaremko with 34. Parker AuCoin has goals in three straight games and had a two point performance against Portland in the lone meeting this season. Krystof Hrabik is the newcomer to keep an eye on in December. He is the second leading scorer among Western Hockey League rookies thanks in part to his career high five point performance last weekend.
Since being acquired from the Regina Pats, 20-year-old Aaron Hyman has elevated the defensive corp. He has seven points in seven games with the Washington based team. This month will be a make or break time for the Americans seeing they play nine of their next ten games against U.S. Division opponents.
The Hawks return home Sunday, December 16th against the Tri-City Americans. Be sure to visit winterhawks.com/tickets for full details on pricing and availability.