Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland at Spokane – First Round, Game #3 – Series Tied 1-1

Ben Ludeman

Portland at Spokane – First Round, Game #3 – Series Tied 1-1 – 7:00 p.m, Spokane, WA


Watch: WHL Live 

Game 3 of this first-round series between the Hawks and Chiefs now shifts to Spokane for the next two nights. The Series is tied at 1 after Portland’s 4-3 victory on Sunday. Portland was the best road team in the WHL during the regular season, going 25-9-1-1.

PREVIOUS GAME: The Winterhawks scored four unanswered goals to start the game, and eventually took down the Chiefs 4-3 on Sunday at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to tie the best-of-seven series at one.

Kieffer Bellows got things started early, wiring home a wicked-wrister to give Portland a 1-0 advantage just under three minutes in. Over six minutes later, John Ludvig rushed the puck up ice, handed it off to Lane Gilliss, who found Jake Gricius in front of the net to make it 2-0. With under five minutes left in the period, Alex Overhardt shoveled home a rebound past Chiefs goaltender Bailey Brkin to give Portland a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

In the second, Mason Mannek banked a shot from below the goal line off goaltender Dawson Weatherill and in. Weatherill entered the game for Spokane during the first intermission. Still in the second, Tyson Helgeson wired a slap-shot past Cole Kehler to make it a 4-1 game. Then, it was Ethan McIndoe scoring a powerplay goal with under two minutes left in the period to make it a two-goal game.

In the third, the Chiefs got within one at the 14:03 mark on a wrister from Zach Fischer to make it 4-3. But the Hawks had a solid defensive performance the rest of the way, led by Kehler, who ended up making 26 saves on the night.

The Hawks held on for the win and tied the best-of-seven series, 1-1.

TODAY’S OPPONENT: The Chiefs were a resilient squad on Sunday, after going down 4-0 in the second period, Spokane fought back to within one but could not complete the comeback.

Forward Zach Fischer had a goal and an assist for Spokane. The Calgary Flames fifth-round pick had not played a game since February 9th, prior to this postseason, after dealing with an upper-body injury. But Fischer looks to be back to full strength after his solid game on Sunday.

In Game 1, the Hawks saw their defensemen score some big goals (Cholowski and Jokiharju) but on Sunday it was veteran D-man Tyson Helgesen coming up big for the Chiefs. Helgesen got the first goal of the night for Spokane and later picked up an assist. The Spokane captain has played in 16 total postseason games in his WHL career, and has recorded two goals and six points.

It is uncertain who the Chiefs will start in net tonight. After goaltender Bailey Brkin had strong Game 1 for the Spokane, making 36 saves in a victory, the rookie tender allowed three goals on 15 shots and was pulled after one period on Sunday. Dawson Weatherill, who got the majority of starts during the regular season for the Chiefs, came in in relief and made 15 saves of 16 shots.

WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Kieffer Bellows leads all Hawks in points through the first two games of the playoffs with four. Bellows scored the opening goal of Game 2 just over two minutes in.

All four lines contributed on the scoresheet for Portland on Sunday, with Alex Overhardt, Jake Gricius and Mason Mannek all finding the back of the net. For Bellows, Mannek and Gricius, it was all their first WHL postseason goals.

Cole Kehler was solid once again on Sunday, stopping 26 of 29 shots. With the win, Kehler has now won five of his last seven starts dating back to the regular season and has allowed over three goals just two times during that span.

In the two Game 3’s that Portland played last year, they went 1-1, losing to Prince George in the first-round and taking down Kelowna 4-2 in the second.

STAT OF THE DAY: The last time the Hawks were in Spokane during the postseason was in 2013, when Mac Carruth recorded a 30 save shutout and Portland swept the Chiefs in Game 4 of the second-round.

Series Schedule:

3/24/18 – Game 1 – Spokane 4 at Portland 3 (OT)

3/25/18 – Game 2 – Spokane 3 at Portland 4

3/28/18 – Game 3 – Portland at Spokane

3/29/18 – Game 4 – Portland at Spokane

3/31/18 – Game 5 – Spokane at Portland

4/2/18 – Game 6* – Portland at Spokane

4/3/18 – Game 7* – Spokane at Portland

*if necessary

There will be a Game 5 this Saturday, March 31st at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Make sure to grab your tickets HERE!

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