THUNDERBIRDS

Portland scores five straight times to blow out Thunderbirds

Mar 17, 2018, 9:20 AM

PORTLAND, Oregon – The Thunderbirds made their final trip to the Rose City Friday night and things did not go as planned.

After Seattle took an early lead, the home standing Winterhawks exploded for five unanswered goals at the Moda Center. The Thunderbirds were unable to mount a response and were blown out 8-3 by their I-5 rivals. Portland was led by Cody Glass, who picked up a hat trick while also adding two assists and was one of six Winterhawks to score as the floodgates opened on the Thunderbirds.

The loss cemented the Thunderbirds playoff positioning and they will remain as the second wild card in the Western Conference.

Things started well for Seattle (33-27-8-2) as it took a first period lead when Nolan Volcan notched his 32nd goal after banging in a rebound from in front of the net. It would be in the second period that things fell apart.

“We had a good first, we did some things that help us be successful against this team,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “In the second we got away from it a little bit and it turned into a track meet real quick by not sticking with what we were doing to be successful.”

It would be a second period that saw Portland (44-21-1-4) outshoot Seattle 20-9 and score four times. The Winterhawks tied the game at one when Henri Jokiharu stepped into a big slap shot at 4:46 of the period. Glass would then wheel around the zone on a power play and pot his first of the night less than six minutes later to give Portland a 2-1 lead.

With the momentum on their side, the Winterhawks continued their surge.

They would add goals from Keifer Bellows and a second from Glass before the period ended with them holding onto what would be a commanding 4-1 lead.

“Once they had momentum we started to get frustrated,” O’Dette said. “We just have to focus there on what we need to do. When you give them some of those Grade A chances, they don’t miss. It’s plain and simple, they’ve got good players.”

Sklyer McKenzie would extend the lead early in the third with his 46th on the season and it would turn out to be a big night for his line, with Glass and Bellows. The three combined for five goals and five assists in the win.

Sami Moilanen would stem the tide a bit with his third goal in the last two games at 9:18 of the third period but that momentum was short-lived as Reece Newkirk got Portland it’s four-goal lead back just over a minute later.

Brendan De Jong would beat goalie Liam Hughes through traffic three minutes after that to make it 7-2 and that would end the night for the Seattle goalie. While the box score shows seven goals allowed, it hides the night that Hughes had.

He kicked out 34 Portland shots and made several spectacular saves which were highlighted by stopping McKenzie on a breakaway as well as an acrobatic stop on Joachim Blichfeld, who was looking to convert a two-on-none break.

“He was great,” O’Dette said of his goaltender. “That was by no means any reflection on him. It was about getting him out of there, keep him as fresh as we can. The guys need to play better in front of him.”

Glass would welcome Dorrin Luding to the game by completing the hat trick on the first shot the Seattle back up saw to make it 8-3. Samual Huo would score his third of the season for Seattle to make the score appear closer than the game was.

The Thunderbirds had chances on the power play on Friday night but struggled to get set up in the zone. They failed on five attempts that were plagued by turnovers and miscommunication.

“It was a lack of execution,” O’Dette said of his power play. “When it was a chance to make simple plays and show some poise, we fumbled the puck and missed on passes. It’s tough to get the power play going when you’re not looking in the same places.”

With the loss, the Thunderbirds know their playoff position but still do not have an opponent. Portland still has a shot at catching the Everett Silvertips for the top spot in the U.S. Division. To do so, the Winterhawks need to beat Seattle at the ShoWare Center on Saturday and have Everett lose in regulation in Victoria. Portland would then need to win its season finale on Sunday.

So, as the two teams play a rematch Saturday night, the game still has some meaning.

“We’ve got to regroup and clean some things up,” O’Dette said. “Defensively in particular and put a great effort together.”

Notes

• It would be a rough night for Turner Ottenbreit who twice had to leave the ice in pain. “He got butt-ended in a not so pleasant area and then he got speared in the same spot,” O’Dette said. “A minor on the one and no call on the other. He’s going to have to get some ice tonight.”

• With his five-point night, Glass reached the 100-point mark for the first time in his WHL career. The Vegas Golden Knights’ first-round pick recorded 94 points last season.

• Volcan extended his point streak to six games with his first period marker.

• Saturday’s game has an early start time of 6 P.M. to allow for local television coverage.

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