Portland has a four game point streak as they head to Seattle to take on the Thunderbirds in the first leg of the home-in-home series.
Puck Drop: 6:05 p.m.
Venue: accesso ShoWare Center
Watch: WHL Live (use promo code WHLGIFT18 for free viewing tonight) or Portland’s CW
PREVIOUS GAME – Winterhawks 2 vs. Tri-City 3 – Overtime: The Tri-City Americans won its third straight overtime game against the Hawks, winning 3-2 in a physical game at the Moda Center.
The rivalry picked up right where it left off before the winter break as both teams found the back of the net in the first period with the Winterhawks getting on the scoreboard first. In the late stages of a power play, the Hawks worked the puck down low and Lane Gilliss stripped it on the end board and centered it to Brendan De Jong for his fifth goal of the season.
Nearing the final moments of the first period, the Americans responded with a power play goal of their own. Kyle Olson connected with a free Sasha Mutala stick to redirect the puck to the top shelf, tying the game at one apiece after one period.
The Americans took their first lead of the night six minutes into the second period when Blake Stevenson scrummed in the loose puck at the top of the crease. The Hawks went on to tie the game with under four minutes to play in the second period. Ryan Hughes found himself in a partial breakaway and he buried a wrist shot in the top left corner of the net.
With John Ludvig being assessed a game misconduct with five minutes to play in the second period and Brendan De Jong nursing a second period injury, the Winterhawks finished the night with a four-defenseman rotation.
Portland made its push in the third period, but goaltender Beck Warm had all the answers. The Hawks fired 17 third period shots on net compared to the Americans’ five attempts and they were all turned aside.
In overtime, the Americans got the lone two shots on net and won the game just over a minute in on a backdoor feed to leading goal scorer Parker AuCoin, who finished in front to give the Americans a 3-2 win on the road.
Tonight’s match-up will be the fifth installment of our Battle With Seattle this season. So far in the head-to-head meetings, the home team has been perfect with both the Hawks and the T-Birds winning twice at home.
Seattle enters the night in last place in the U.S. Division, but based on our previous meetings, expect this one to have some fireworks, too. Seattle is coming off a 2-1 loss against Prince George, who leapfrogged the Thunderbirds in the Western Conference standings. Goaltender Taylor Gauthier was too much for the T-Birds to handle as he stopped 29 of 30 shots in the win after watching his Cougars jump out to a two goal lead in the second period.
Veteran Zack Andrusiak will be one to keep an eye on tonight seeing he enters the game as a point-per-game player. Prior to the winter break, the third-year Thunderbird had goals in nine of 11 games and leads the way with six goals against the Winterhawks this season.
Liam Hughes has drawn all four starts against the Hawks, turning aside 160 shots. The Hawks know how to get pucks on net against Seattle, but this week, they will have to learn to do so without Cody Glass.
Clay Hanus has elevated his offensive productivity in December, collecting assists in his last four games. Meanwhile, Ryan Hughes has 13 points this month and is looking to make it three straight games with a goal. He has scored 12 goals in his WHL career against Seattle.
In the last meeting at the ShoWare Center, Seattle won 6-4. Nick Perna scored his first career WHL goal for the Hawks immediately after the Thunderbirds scored five unanswered goals to help secure the win. Matthew Wedman (1-2–3) and Nolan Volcan (0-3–3) paced the way with three points.
Portland hits the road to Washington to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds and return home Monday, December 31st against the Thunderbirds for our Battle with Seattle at our Toyota New Years Eve game. Be sure to visit winterhawks.com/tickets for full details on pricing and availability.