Portland vs. Spokane – First Round, Game #5 – POR leads 3-1 – 6:00 p.m. – VMC, Portland, OR
After the Hawks took Games 3 and 4 in Spokane on Wednesday and Thursday, the series now shifts back to Portland for Game 5 tonight. With a win, the Winterhawks will advance to the second-round of the playoffs for the second straight season.
PREVIOUS GAME: Joachim Blichfeld scored twice in seven seconds in the third period to give Portland a 4-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, as the Hawks took down the Chiefs in Spokane to take a 3-1 series lead.
The Chiefs got on the board first, with Hudson Elynuik scoring 9:01 into the opening period. Just over a minute and a half later, Eli Zummack tipped one past Cole Kehler to give Spokane a 2-0 lead. Late in the first, Alex Overhardt wired a shot past Dawson Weatherill to make it a 2-1 game heading into the second.
In the second frame, the Hawks tied things up as Henri Jokiharju found Skyler McKenzie infront, who tapped home his first of the playoffs to make it 2-2.
It would remain that way until the third period, when with just over 10 minutes remaining in the frame, Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored on the powerplay to give Spokane the 3-2 lead. A few minutes later, Kieffer Bellows thought he had tied it with a wicked wrister, but after review it was clear the puck went crossbar, post and out. But just three seconds later off the offensive zone faceoff win, Joachim Blichfeld beat Weatherill to tie it at three Portland was not done there. Just seven seconds later, Keoni Texeira sprung Blichfeld on a breakaway, and again he beat Weatherill to give Portland the lead. Blichfeld set a Winterhawks postseason record, for the fastest two goals by the same player at seven seconds.
The Chiefs would pull their goaltender late, but the Hawks were solid defensively, and held on for the 4-3 comeback win. Cole Kehler made 25 saves in the victory. With the win, Portland takes a 3-1 series lead.
TODAY’S OPPONENT: The Chiefs had the lead late in Game 4 but were unable to hold on for the win. Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored on the powerplay with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game to give Spokane a 3-2 lead. Anderson-Dolan has been the best Chiefs player offensively so far this series, registering two goals and four points in four games.
The Chiefs shuffled all four of their lines on Thursday, separating Anderson-Dolan and Kailer Yamamoto. While the Anderson-Dolan line certainly looked good, it was on the ice for the lone 5-on-5 goal for Spokane, Yamamoto remains with just two assists in four games this series, and no goals.
The Hawks would be wise to stay out of the penalty box, as the Chiefs went 2-for-4 on the man-advantage on Thursday. For the series now, Spokane is 4-for-13, which is the third best powerplay percentage of the 16 teams in the playoffs.
On Thursday, Head Coach Dan Lambert went to 18-year old Dawson Weatherill between the pipes. For most of the game Weatherill was solid, but the two goals he allowed in seven seconds to Joachim Blichfeld turned out to be the difference. Weatherill ended up making 20 saves on 24 shots.
WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Joachim Blichfeld had three goals in the two games in Spokane this week. The Danish-forward has been one of the Hawks best players so far this postseason, playing physical, hardnosed playoff hockey during the series’ first four games. He has five points in the series, tied for third most on the team.
Alex Overhardt recorded his first ever three-point postseason game on Thursday. He scored the Hawks first goal of the game, then won two crucial faceoffs that led to Blichfeld’s two goals in seven seconds.
Keoni Texeira has also had a phenomenal series. The Hawks captain is a team leading plus-four through four games, and has two assists in the series. No assist bigger than his pass that sprung Blichfeld in on a breakaway for his game winning goal in Game 4.
STAT OF THE DAY: Joachim Blichfeld’s two goals in seven seconds in Game 4 ties a WHL postseason record for the fastest two goals by the same player. Blichfeld ties Ron Sutter, of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, from 1983, and Bill Derlago, of the Brandon Wheat Kings, back in 1978.
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 3 at Spokane 1
3/29/18 – Game 4 – Portland 4 at Spokane 3
3/31/18 – Game 5 – Spokane at Portland
4/2/18 – Game 6* – Portland at Spokane
4/3/18 – Game 7* – Spokane at Portland