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Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland vs. Kelowna – Game #18

Ben Ludeman

With the players’ families in town for Parent’s Weekend, the Winterhawks host the Kelowna Rockets for a pair of home games. The Hawks enter the night with ten wins and seek the number one spot in the U.S. Division.

Puck Drop: 6:00 p.m.

Venue: Moda Center

Tickets: Portland vs. Kelowna

Listen: winterhawks.com/listen

Watch: WHL Live

PREVIOUS GAME – Winterhawks 8 vs. Chiefs 6: The Winterhawks capped off a six-point weekend with a road victory against the Spokane Chiefs and improved to 10-6-0-1 on the season.

It was a barn burner of a game in Spokane this Sunday, where the Hawks and Chiefs exchanged leads six times over the course of the evening, with Portland eventually emerging victorious.

Spokane kicked off the scoring, as Riley Woods picked up his 11th goal of the year to give his team an early first period lead. That score would not stand long, however, as Jake Gricius beat Spokane’s Bailey Brkin cleanly with a shot from the top of the right circle.

Portland took the next lead of the game on a power play, as Lane Gilliss neatly stripped the puck from a Spokane defender and took a shot from the slot to make it 2-1. The Chiefs, however, would negate the lead just a few minutes later with a power play goal of their own. Rookie forward Adam Beckman found himself in the right place at the right time and batted a puck past Portland’s Shane Farkas to make it 2-2. Moments later, an odd man rush for Spokane resulted in a shot trickling through Farkas’ pads and sitting in the crease, where Ethan McIndoe swept it in to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead.

The Hawks were able to pick up the equalizer before the end of the first period, as John Ludvig sprung Jaydon Dureau on a breakaway. Dureau was hooked, and the officials awarded him a penalty shot. He buried to make it a 3-3 game going into the second period.

Spokane would get off to the better start in the middle frame, as they scored twice within half a minute to take a 5-3 lead. Rookie goaltender Dante Giannuzzi relieved Shane Farkas at the 12:42 mark of the second period. Jake Gricius scored on the power play late in the second to make it 5-4.

It took the Hawks just four minutes to tie the game in the third period, as Joachim Blichfeld cleaned up a puck atop of the crease to make it 5-5. Shortly after, Spokane’s Nolan Reid would give the Chiefs their last lead of their night before the Hawks scored three unanswered goals to finish the game.

After a huge John Ludvig hit drew a penalty, Ryan Hughes cashed in on a power play goal for the equalizer. Reece Newkirk scored the eventual game-winning goal on the ensuing power play. Joachim Blichfeld would add an empty net goal to make it an 8-6 Portland victory.

Giannuzzi earned his first career Western Hockey League victory, stopping seven shots in a relief appearance and took home the title of hardest worker of the night.

TODAY’S OPPONENT:

It has been a tale of two teams for the Rockets this season. After starting the year in the basement of the Western Conference, Kelowna made a coaching change and hired Adam Foote as the team’s new head coach. Foote, who had no prior high-level head coaching experience, propelled the Rockets in the right direction. The Rockets are 6-1-0-0 in their last seven games, including a 3-1 win in Seattle last night.

Kelowna has no shortage of talent this season. Adam Foote’s son Nolan leads the team with 11 goals and is listed as an A-rated prospect on the NHL Central Scouting watch list. Four other Rockets join Nolan Foote on the watch list (Kaedan Korczac, Roman Basran, Lassi Thomson and Kyle Topping) which leads all Western Hockey League teams.

Kyle Topping is currently riding a five-game goal scoring streak into the game against Portland and the Rockets top CHL Import pick Lassi Thomson has three straight multi-point games. Goaltender Basran quickly erased the 0-5 start from his memory and has not allowed more than three goals in his last six starts. He will face a Hawks team that averages four and a half goals per game playing at the Moda Center.

Saturday will be the second of six straight road games for the Rockets and they are in the midst of a three-in-three weekend against the U.S. Division. They will face the Winterhawks four times this season with the two meetings in British Columbia coming in early March.

The Hawks return home for Military Salute on November 10th against the Kelowna Rockets. Individual tickets are now on sale. Be sure to visit winterhawks.com/tickets for full details on pricing and availability.

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