Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland at Tri-City – Game #52

Ben Ludeman

Portland (30-17-1-3) at Tri-City (26-16-7-0) – 7:05 p.m. – Toyota Center, Kennewick, WA 


Winterhawks face off against the Tri-City Americans tonight in Kennewick. Portland has won their first two games on the road against the Americans this season. The Hawks also have a lead in the season series, going 3-1-0-0. These two teams will meet up five more times after tonight’s contest.

PREVIOUS GAME: Winterhawks 3 vs. Silvertips 0: Cody Glass and Kieffer Bellows returned to the Winterhawks lineup tonight and immediately made an impact, as Bellows buried a pair and Glass had three helpers in Portland’s 3-0 shutout win over Everett.

After a scoreless first period, Portland began to press. The Hawks outshot the Silvertips in the second frame 20-5 and had several chances that were stopped by Everett goaltender Carter Hart. Glass had Portland’s best opportunity, beating Hart, but not the pipe, while shorthanded.

In the third, Portland finally broke the deadlock. On the powerplay, Henri Jokiharju, Glass and Bellows combined on a sweet passing play, with Bellows eventually putting it home. Just over two minutes later, Bellows again put one by Hart on a rush with Skyler McKenzie to make it 2-0 Portland. Cole Kehler did the rest for the Hawks, as he ended up making 21 saves for his third shutout of the season. McKenzie would bury an empty-netter to make it a 3-0 final.

TODAY’S OPPONENT: Much like Portland, the Americans have dealt with plethora of injuries over the last few months. Both Michael Rasmussen and Juuso Valimaki have missed significant time for Tri-City. But the good news for Americans’ fans is both players have returned to Tri-Cities’ lineup just as the team has found their footing. Tri-City has points in six straight games heading into tonight, going 4-0-2-0 over that span. The Americans took down a very good Victoria Royals squad 7-1 on Wednesday. Forward Jordan Topping recorded a hat-trick in that one. He now has 29 goals on the season to lead all Americans.

In his three games since returning from injury, Detroit Red Wings draft pick, Michael Rasmussen, has six points. Rasmussen has played in just 25 games this season but has 37 points. Similarly, defenseman Juuso Valimaki has played in just 20 games this season because of the World Juniors and injuries, but has put up 20 points in 20 games.

Jake Bean has played extremely well for Tri-City since coming over from the Hitmen in a deal just before the WHL Trade Deadline. In nine games, Bean has three goals and six points. With Valimaki back from injury, the Americans now have one of more talented backends in all of the WHL, which also includes Vegas Golden Knights prospect Dylan Coghlan.

WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ONKieffer Bellows and Cody Glass made their return to the Hawks lineup on Wednesday and an immediate difference. Bellows scored twice in the Hawks win, while Glass assisted on all three of Portland’s goals. The top unit of Glass, Bellows and McKenzie ended up with seven points combined in the victory.

Henri Jokiharju enters tonight averaging the third most points-per-game in the WHL among defensemen with 1.14. Jokiharju has 11 points in his last 11 games. Both Jokiharju and Dennis Cholowski have been a force this season on the power play, with both players sitting in the top 5 in the league in power play points among d-men.

Forward Lukus MacKenzie likes playing the Americans. In two games against Tri-City this season, MacKenzie has one goal and two assists. Mason Mannek has also had success against Tri-City, with two of his eight goals this year coming against the Americans.

STAT OF THE DAY: Dating back to last season, Portland is 3-0 and has outscored the Americans 14-4 in their last three visits to Kennewick.

Here’s how the two teams have played head-to-head this season:

Winterhawks: 3-1-0-0               Americans: 1-2-1-0

This Year’s Season Series:

11/11/17 – Tri-City 2 @ Portland 5

27/12/17 – Tri-City 6 @ Portland 3

29/12/17 – Portland 3 @ Tri-City 2 (OT)

12/01/18 – Portland 5 @ Tri-City 1

02/02/18 – Portland @ Tri-City

03/02/18 – Tri-City @ Portland

09/02/18 – Tri-City @ Portland

27/02/18 – Portland @ Tri-City

03/03/18 – Portland @ Tri-City

10/03/18 – Tri-City @ Portland

The Winterhawks return home on Saturday to face Tri-City on “Banner Bank Mascot Night”! Make sure to grab your tickets HERE!

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