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Winterhawks Game Day Preview: Portland vs. Tri-City – Game #34

Ben Ludeman

The Winterhawks welcome the Americans to town for the first time this season on Sunday night. It’s also the 34th game of the regular season, meaning the Hawks will complete the first half of the regular season after tonight.

Puck Drop: 5:00 p.m.

Venue: Moda Center

Tickets: Portland vs. Tri-City

Listen: winterhawks.com/listen

Watch: WHL Live

PREVIOUS GAME – Winterhawks 2 at Tri-City 3 – Overtime: Portland played strong for the majority of the night, but allowed Tri-City to come back in the final few minutes and pick up a 3-2 overtime win.

After not facing each other in the last 30 games, the Hawks and Americans got off to a slow offensive start. Shane Farkas was dialed in during the first period and warded off a slew of long range shots from the Americans’ attack. On the opposite side of the rink, Beck Warm turned aside all 12 shots he faced in the first period, including a couple odd-man rushes.

The Hawks scored the lone goal in the second period, coming in the final two minutes of the frame. Joachim Blichfeld swarmed a puck at the blue line on the penalty kill and Jake Gricius fed it up ice for a breakaway chance. Blichfeld slapped it in for his 30th goal of the season to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Portland came out sharp in the third period. Three minutes into the frame, Michal Kvasnica had two prime scoring chances set up with Lane Gilliss and rang one off the crossbar. A few moments later, Jake Gricius hit the corner bar to keep it a 1-0 game. The relentless pressure eventually paid off as Kvasnica buried a wrist shot blocker side of Warm on a zone rush to make it a 2-0 Hawks’ lead.

Momentum changed, however, two minutes later when Tri-City scored their first goal of the night on a fluke bounce. A backdoor pass from behind the net ricocheted off Nick Perna’s skate and into the net to cut into the Hawks lead. With the net empty in the final minute of regulation, Joachim Blichfeld sent a puck out of play from his defensive zone for a delay of game minor penalty and the Americans scored on the ensuing power play.

With 9.6 seconds on the clock and a 6-on-4 advantage, captain Nolan Yaremko scored the power play goal on a one-time shot from the right post to force overtime. Shane Farkas faced 18 shots in the third period alone. He finished with 31 saves on the night.

The Winterhawks took the first four shots of the overtime period, but Warm turned them all aside. Aaron Hyman netted the game winner in the third minute of the overtime period one stride in front of Farkas’ crease to give the Americans the home win.

TODAY’S OPPONENT:

Saturday night represented the American’s third overtime win of the season, scoring the game winning goal in their lone shot of the overtime period. It also marked the second time this year the Americans came back from a two goal third period deficit to force overtime.

Defenseman Aaron Hyman scored the game winner last night in his 200th career WHL regular season game and is a point-per-game player with Tri-City through his first eight games. The win marked their second straight win and they sit seven points back of the Winterhawks in the division, but have played three fewer games heading to the holiday break.

Beck Warm stopped 32 pucks in the first night of the home-in-home match-up. That’s the fifth consecutive start the 19-year-old goaltender was forced to stop 30+ shots in a game. In the comeback effort, Americans’ leading scorer Nolan Yaremko scored both goals against the Hawks. It was his third and fourth tallies in his career against the Winterhawks.

Last season, Portland won all three home games against Tri-City played inside the Moda Center. The last time the Americans won at the Moda was November 6, 2016 when the Hawks fumbled a 2-0 lead and Kyle Olson, Michael Rasmussen, and Parker AuCoin scored three unanswered in the 3-2 win.

The Hawks return home Sunday, December 16th against the Tri-City Americans. It’s the final home game before the holidays. Be sure to visit¬†winterhawks.com/tickets¬†for full details on pricing and availability.

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