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In six-round shootout, Leier's goal beats Chiefs

What a homecoming for the Portland Winterhawks.

After a nine-game trip, the Hawks played at home Friday night for the first time since Oct. 18.

They gave the Rose Garden crowd, announced as 8,207, full bargain for their buck, fighting off the Spokane Chiefs 6-5 in a six-round shootout.

Taylor Leier scored the game-winner for Portland, after the teams had gone 3-3 through the first five rounds of the shootout.

The 2 hour, 48-minute game was back and forth, and it took a goal by Portland forward Brad Ross with 40.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the score for the fifth time and force overtime.

It was Ross' second goal of the contest. Fellow forward Ty Rattie also had two goals, giving him a team-high 17 for the season (Ross is second on the club with 12).

Both of Rattie's goals came on power plays. The Hawks went 3 for 6 with the man advantage, with Ross also scoring on a power play. Spokane was 2 of 7 on the power play.

Spokane led 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4.

The Chiefs took their 5-4 lead at the 10:36 mark of the third period, on a night when Portland goalie Mac Carruth made 32 saves.

Spokane netminder Mac Engel had 35 saves.

In the shootout, Rattie scored on Portland's second attempt, and Sven Bartschi and Brendan Leipsic kept the Hawks alive with goals in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. Both teams missed in round five.

Portland improved to 12-7-1-1 (26 points) and stayed within two points of first-place Tri-City (14-5-0-0, 28) in the Western Hockey League U.S. Division race. The Americans beat host Medicine Hat 4-3 on Friday.

Spokane slipped to 9-4-0-2 (20 points).

Portland and Spokane will play again at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Rose Garden.