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Winterhawks blow out Seattle to tie franchise points mark


The Portland Winterhawks tied the franchise record for single-season points Friday night as they pulled away from the Seattle Thunderbirds in the third period and won 8-4 before a Rose Garden sellout crowd of 10,947.

Brendan Leipsic's hat trick led the way for the Hawks, who scored three unanswered goals in the first 13:25 of the final frame to stretch their lead to 7-3.

Things got particularly testy in the closing 2:25, with 10 penalties called, several for fighting.

In the end, Portland had boosted its season points total to a Western Hockey League-leading 113. That matches the output of the 1980-81 Winterhawks, and the current team has two games remaining before the playoffs — including a 7 p.m. Saturday date with the T-Birds at ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash.

A win by Portland would break the WHL record for most road victories in a season. The Hawks have 28.

Portland's final regular-season game is 5 p.m. Sunday at the Rose Garden against the Spokane Chiefs.Oliver Friday's game went back and forth for two-plus periods.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, the WHL's leading rookie scorer, notched his 30th goal of the season to give Portland a 4-3 edge going into the third period.

Leipsic completed his hat trick 3:58 into the third period with a shorthanded goal that gave the Hawks a 5-3 lead.

At 12:34, Ty Rattie scored his second goal of the game, and then Tyler Wotherspoon struck on a power play.

Seattle got to within 7-4 with a goal at the 14:25 mark, but Joey Baker scored his first goal of the season on a power play with 40 seconds left to restore the Hawks' four-goal margin.

Rattie, Troy Rutkowski and Nic Petan each had three points for Portland.

Brendan Burke earned the win with 31 saves.

The Winterhawks are 55-12-1-2. Seattle is 24-38-7-2 and is in seventh place in the WHL Western Conference.

Odds are Portland will open the playoffs against No. 8 Everett, which is 24-40-2-4 and has 54 points, three behind Seattle. Everett has two games remaining, while the Thunderbirds will finish their regular season on Saturday.

The Hawks will play host to games one and two of the best-of-seven first-round series on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23.