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Portland Winterhawks Get Clipped by Tips as Playoff Race Grows Tighter

Friday, March 11, 2016

 

The Portland Winterhawks didn't make their case for a playoff spot as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Silvertips in Everett, Washington. The Hawks fell behind the eight ball early as they gave up two goals in the first period and another in the second and appeared to be on their way to a bad beating at the Xfinity Arena. However, the comeback kids found a way to finally get past goaltender Carter Hart as Ryan Hughes worked some magic around the net to open space for Rihards Bukarts whose shot sneaked past the post to give the Hawks a little life.

Later in the frame, with the Hawks buzzing, a scramble in the Silvertips zone put both Dominic Turgeon and Alex Schoenborn in front of the net, trying to force the puck past Hart. Success came to Schoenborn, who was able to snap it past Hart for the second tally with just six minutes left in the game. The Hawks pulled Adin Hill who had made some spectacular saves throughout the contest in favor of the extra attacker. Despite enormous pressure and effort, the Winterhawks were denied the tying goal. The loss opened the door for the Spokane Chiefs to move ahead of the Hawks as they now have a game in hand.

The Tri-City Americans looked to close the gap on the Hawks, but were thwarted by the Kamloops Blazers who have been on a bit of a tear of their own. The Blazers handled the Americans a 6-2 loss, which kept Tri-City five points back of the Hawks for the final playoff spot. The Blazers, meanwhile, pulled within a point of the Prince George Cougars for third spot in the BC Division. The Blazers then tried to vault ahead versus Spokane Chiefs in Spokane. They took an early 2-0 lead in the first period. Spokane tallied early in the second only to have Kamloops restore their 2 goal lead just seconds later. Spokane rallied a couple minutes later and pressed for the equalizer, but simply ran out of time. The win for Kamloops temporarily put them ahead of Prince George Cougars, who were in a battle of their own with the Kelowna Rockets. Neither team scored in the first forty minutes of play, but the two teams combined for four goals in just six minutes, then headed to overtime and finally into a shootout. Kelowna would win and as a result, Kamloops and Prince George are tied with just four games in each of their schedules with the edge going to Prince George by virtue of number of wins. Next weekend, Kamloops and Prince George will play a home and home series which will most likely be the series that determines third place versus a wildcard spot.

Portland will play a three game in three night series as they travel to Vancouver to battle the Giants, who are out of the playoff hunt, but could play a spoiler role. The Hawks will then return home to face the US Division leaders Seattle Thunderbirds followed by the Everett Silvertips. Spokane will play Tri-City followed by Kelowna and then travel to Seattle. Currently Portland has a magic number of three to gain a playoff spot. A combination of Portland wins and Tri-City losses equal to three gives Portland the edge. Spokane's magic number is four.

Ice Chips: Fans attending Saturday's game are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to benefit the Sunshine Division. Donation barrels will be at the front entrances with the first 500 donors receiving a $5 Burgerville gift card. Bagged food willalso be available for sale for donation at the game.

 

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