Some might call it a meaningless game, but tell that to the Portland Winterhawks, who were resting a few key starters and playing against division rivals at the sold out Rose Garden and on TV to boot.
With a few scratches of main players, the Winterhawks served notice that if they were to face Seattle in the playoffs, the chance for a Seattle surprise would be nearly slim to none. It started off with the top point leaders, Brendan Leipsic to Nic Petan and a great feed back to Leipsic on the first goal nearly 12 minutes in. It would go to 2 when Leipsic rushed up the ice, faked a pass and buried it past Thunderbirds goaltender Danny Mumaugh, starting his second straight game owing to a 2 game suspension to #1 Goaltender Brandon Glover. Just as a power play was expiring, a pass from the corner by Jesse Forsberg found Seth Swenson in a goal mouth scramble and the puck found its way behind Brendan Burke to end the period. The Hawks led 2-1, but were outshot 13-11.
In the second, just a minute twenty in, Seattle tied it when Swenson set up Justin Hickman to knot it at 2. The Hawks would regain the lead a minute and a half later when Ty Rattie ended a great three way through Troy Rutkowski and Nic Petan to put the Hawks back in the lead. It would be thirty seconds before the game was tied again as Adam Kambeitz, took a great pass from Taylor Green out in the slot and over the left shoulder of Burke. Towards the end of the period, Oliver Bjorkstrand, off the faceoff in the Winterhawks zone, found his way on a breakaway and lifted it over Mumaugh's right pad. Again the Hawks were outshot in the period 15-13
The third period was all Winterhawks as 4 minutes in, short-handed, Brendan Leipsic completed the hat trick from Taylor Peters who gave the fans a chance to throw some hats. This was followed by power play goals from Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon less than a minute apart which put the game out of reach. Seattle would get one more from Roberts Lipsbergs at 14:25, but Portland would add one more with Joey Baker getting his first goal of the season on the power play to end the scoring. Portland went 3 for 8 on the power play, with Seattle going 1 for 3. Up until the third period, Seattle actually held the edge in shots, but Portland would ultimately outshoot Seattle 36-35.
It wasn't just the scoring that was high, so too were the penalty minutes with a total of 92 for the game, 80 of those in the third period alone. The whole mess really got started at the 12:07 mark of the third when Luke Lockhart came in to defend his Seattle teammates honor and took on Portland tough guy Adam DeChamplain at the Seattle bench. Following the fight, as DeChamplain was being mouthed at by several players at the Seattle bench, he gave a slight shove to Andrew Johnson who punched DeChamplian square in the jaw. Johnson received 2 minutes for roughing which incensed a sold out Rose Garden of 10,947 and they littered the ice with all sorts of garbage, delaying the game for several minutes. This would be the only blight on the game which the Hawks won 8-4.
Ultimately, the WHL disciplinary committee will be working overtime as this game was televised on ROOT Sports and considering the two teams will face off again Saturday, this time in Kent at the ShoWare Center, the bad blood will certainly carry over. Seattle's Andrew Johnson should be hearing from the WHL office for the one handed glove punch to DeChamplain from the Seattle bench in which he only received 2 minutes for. There may be other suspensions resulting from this third period fracas as well.
1) Brendan Leipsic
2) Ty Rattie
3) Nic Petan
Ice Chips: Seattle Goaltender Brandon Glover will probably get the start on Saturday along with tough guy Evan Wardley, both of whom finish 2 game suspensions for incidents at Everett on Tuesday night.
The Portland Winterhawks Booster Club has a sold out bus heading to Kent, with an expected 150 fans additionally attending the game in Kent on Saturday. Sunday's game at the Rose Garden has some tickets remaining for the battle with Spokane Chiefs. The Chiefs, who for all intent and purpose, captured home ice advantage as the #4 seed as they leveled a devastating 6-0 win over Tri City Americans, who they will face off against in the playoffs. Portland will face either Seattle or Everett in the first round as Prince George was eliminated in Friday's action. Everett must win both its remaining games and Seattle must lose versus Portland Saturday in order for the Silvertips to gain seventh place and avoid a first round matchup with Portland. The scoring race remains all Winterhawks as Brendan Leipsic ranks in top spot with 118 points, followed by Nic Petan 115 and Ty Rattie at 107, all three have 2 games left to play. The fourth ranked player, Colin Smith of the Kamloops Blazers at 105points, has only 1 game left to play. Should this hold, Portland will be the first team to have one line in the top three for scoring ever in the WHL.
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club which works as a liaison between the Portland Winterhawks Hockey Club and its fans with fan trips, player photos and more. It's goal is to assist the WAHA Player's Education Fund and Junior Hockey Programs in the local area. http://www.pwhbc.com