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Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland vs. Prince George – Game #30

Ben Ludeman

After a decisive win on Friday night, the Winterhawks are looking to make it four straight wins to open December.

Puck Drop: 6:00 p.m.

Venue: Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Tickets: Portland vs. Prince George

Listen: winterhawks.com/listen

Watch: WHL Live

PREVIOUS GAME – Winterhawks 5 vs. Cougars 2: The Winterhawks scored five goals in the first 40 minutes of play to cruise to a 5-2 home win against Prince George.

In the first period, the Hawks found the back of the net twice on back-to-back power play opportunities. Nearly 15 minutes into the game, Joachim Blichfeld was given space in the slot and he riffled it to the top left corner to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

Just under two minutes later, Jake Gricius pushed the face-off forward and it ricocheted off a Cougar skate during the scrum for possession. Seth Jarvis picked up the puck and slipped passed the defense to beat Taylor Gauthier on his glove side. The Hawks took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission break and they finished 2-for-2 on the power play as those were the only man advantage opportunities the Hawks would see in the night.

Portland stretched their lead to begin the second period. Robbie Fromm-Delorme capitalized on a rebound chance in front of a scrambling Gauthier and he roofed a backhander over the glove to make it 3-0. Prince George responded on the power play. Josh Maser redirected a blue line shot at the top of the crease for his team-leading ninth goal of the season to bring the game back within two goals.

The game shifted in the Hawks’ favor during a 5-on-3 Prince George power play a few minutes later. Jake Gricius stripped the puck high in the defensive zone and batted it out to Cody Glass for a clean breakaway. Glass’ first attempt was denied, but he would not be stopped on the second shot. Glass made it a 4-1 game, becoming the fourth Winterhawk to ever score a 5-on-3 shorthanded goal.

Nearing the end of the second period, Cross Hanas sustained the offensive zone and found John Ludvig at the blue line. After a nice shot fake, Ludvig fired in his second goal of the season through a screen to give the Hawks a 5-1 lead after two period. Portland chased starting goaltender Taylor Gauthier out of the game after 40 minutes of hockey. He made 25 saves on 30 shots.

The Cougars would score the lone goal in the third period, on the power play, but the Hawks ended victorious. Shane Farkas stopped 23 of 25 shots in the win and the Winterhawks have now won three straight games to begin December. Jake Gricius was recognized as the first star of the game after collecting his first three assist performance in his WHL career.

TODAY’S OPPONENT:

The woes continue for the Cougars, who have lost five of their last six games. Prince George struggled a bit in their first game against the Hawks to open their 11-game road trip for the holidays.

Future NHL draft pick Taylor Gauthier has struggled in his starts against Portland over the last two seasons. In 140 minutes of hockey, he’s allowed 15 goals which results in a 6.43 goals against average. It is tough to look at the goaltending situation when the Cougars have the second worst offense in the league in terms of goals scored per game.

Last night, the team’s leading scorers potted the two power play goals against the Hawks – Josh Maser and Vladislav Mikhalchuk. Maser is on track for his first 50 point season in the WHL and the former first round Import Draft pick Mikhalchuk has elevated his game from a season ago and is on pace to set new highs in goals, assists and points with the B.C.-based team.

The 11-game road trip does not get much easier after tonight’s match-up. Currently out of a playoff spot, the Cougars will need to get a couple of wins in 2018 to stay afloat in the division. The Cougars have tilts against Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver before the holiday break, and they’ll face Everett, Kamloops, Kelowna and Tri-City after Christmas, all before returning home in early January.

Their last win against the Hawks was October 1, 2017 and it came at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 3-0 fashion.

Portland continues their weekend set against Prince George Saturday night at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The puck drops at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to visit winterhawks.com/tickets for full details on pricing and availability.

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