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Winterhawks continue winning ways with Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Portland Winterhawks improved to 4-0 this season against the Spokane Chiefs, beating them 8-6 Saturday night in the holiday getaway game for both teams.

The Hawks take a 21-11-2-1 record into the Western Hockey League break.

Most clubs return to action Dec. 27; Portland's next game will be Dec. 28 in the Rose Garden against Victoria.

Portland is 35 games through the 72=game regular season and has 45 points, nine behind the Tri-City Americans, who lead the U.S. Division at 27-7-0-0 (54 points in 34 games).

Tri-City swept back-to-back weekend games with Seattle, winning 5-1 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday. The Americans were ranked second in the Canadian Hockey League's most recent poll of NHL scouts. That matches their position ever. Portland was not one of 13 teams receiving votes.

The Hawks lost 3-0 at Tri-City last week to fall 0-5 versus the Ams this season. Portland was without three of its top four scorers in last week's meeting, though, with Ty Rattie, Brad Ross and Joe Morrow trying out unsuccessfully for Canada's world junior tournament squad.

Ross had four points (two goals, two assists) to lead the Winterhawks on Saturday. Chase De Leo also scored two goals for Portland. Rattie had a goal and two assists.

Mac Carruth picked up his 20th win, stopping 29 of 35 shots.

Portland led 7-4 when rookie Nic Petan scored at 5:42 of the third period, 1:27 after a goal by De Leo.

Spokane made it a game again with goals at 13:37 and 18:01, but defenseman William Wrenn hit an empty net for Portland with 31 seconds remaining for the final cushion.

Spokane (15-11-2-3, 35 points) is third in the five-team U.S. Division.