Portland (12-4-0-0) vs. Tri-City (12-4-2-0) – 6:00 p.m. – Moda Center
It’s a battle of the top two teams in the U.S. Division tonight, as the Americans and Winterhawks meet up for the first time this season. Portland is currently on a three-game winning streak and have won 10 of their last 13 games. While the Americans have points in 11 straight games and are coming off a 4-0 shutout win over the Seattle Thunderbirds last night.
PREVIOUS GAME: Cole Kehler made 43 saves and Kieffer Bellows extended his point streak to 11 games as Portland defeated Everett 3-1 on the road.
Alex Overhardt scored his 5th of the season midway through the third period to give the Hawks the lead. Kehler would stand tall the rest of the way to pick up his 10th win of the season.
The Hawks improved to 12-4-0-0 with the win.
TODAY’S OPPONENT: Portland welcomes the Tri-City Americans to town for the first matchup of the season between these two teams. The Americans enter the contest with points in 11 straight games and are 9-0-2-0 during that span. They are currently two points ahead of the Winterhawks for first in the U.S. Division with two games in hand.
Leading the way offensively for the Americans is over-age forward Jordan Topping. Topping has 21 points in 18 games and 10 goals on the year to lead all Americans. Michael Rasmussen, who missed a handful of games earlier in the season while with the Detroit Red Wings, has 17 points in 13 games.
Defensively, Finnish import and Calgary Flames draft pick Juuso Valimaki, has 12 points in 13 games but does not lead Tri-City in scoring from the backend, that title goes to Dylan Coghlan. Coghlan, who signed an entry-level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights this past September, leads all Tri-City defenders with 19 points in 18 games.
In net, both Patrick Dea and Beck Warm have been splitting time between the pipes. Dea has played in one more game than Warm and has made four of the last five starts for the Americans. Warm picked up his first career WHL shutout last night against Seattle, making 43 saves in a 4-0 Tri-City win.
The Americans played well when visiting Portland last year, posting a 3-2-0-0 record.
WINTERHAWKS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: The entire Winterhawks penalty kill. Portland has not allowed a powerplay goal in four straight games and have killed off 18 straight PP’s dating back to their game against Moose Jaw on Oct 24th.
Alex Overhardt has continued his strong play as well. The Colorado-born forward is 5th on the team in scoring and has played an excellent two-way game all season long. Overhardt is 5th in the WHL in faceoff percentage (58.5) among centers who’ve taken 100 or more draws.
Cole Kehler also enters tonight’s game leading the WHL in GAA (2.09) and SV% (.935). He was named CHL Goaltender of the Week on Tuesday for the second time this season.
STAT OF THE DAY: Portland is 7-1-0-0 this season when a defenseman scores a goal.
Here’s how the two teams played head-to-head last season:
Winterhawks: 4-6-0-0 Americans: 6-4-0-0
Last Year’s Season Series:
Portland 6 @ Tri-City 1 (Mar 14 2017) Final
Portland 4 @ Tri-City 6 (Feb 22 2017) Final
Tri-City 3 @ Portland 4 (Dec 28 2016) Final
Portland 2 @ Tri-City 6 (Dec 27 2016) Final
Portland 5 @ Tri-City 2 (Dec 2 2016) Final
Tri-City 3 @ Portland 2 (Nov 6 2016) Final
Portland 3 @ Tri-City 5 (Nov 4 2016) Final
Tri-City 4 @ Portland 3 (Oct 25 2016) Final
Tri-City 4 @ Portland 3 (Oct 18 2016) Final
Tri-City 3 @ Portland 7 (Sep 25 2016) Final
The Hawks play again tomorrow as they welcome the Prince Albert Raiders to the Moda Center. Tickets are available HERE!