Winterhawks' victory clinches third in U.S. Division
The Portland Winterhawks' third win in a row was a significant one.
The Hawks beat the Seattle Thunderbirds 4-1 at the Showare Center in Kent on Saturday night to claim third place in the Western Hockey League U.S. Division.
Portland improved to 40-27-1-3 (84 points) with one regular-season game remaining, 5 p.m. Sunday at home against Spokane, which is out of the playoff race.
The Winterhawks have won eight of their last nine outings.
They out-shot Seattle 41-32 on Saturday, with Cole Kehler going all the way in goal for Portland.
Seattle fell to 45-20-4-2 (96 points) fell out of contention for first place in the West.
The Everett Silvertips clinched first place in the U.S. Division and stayed first in the conference, downing Victoria 5-2 on Saturday to raise their point total to 99.
On Sunday, Everett will play at Tri-City, while Vancouver visits Seattle, and then it will be on to the playoffs.
Colton Veloso led the way for Portland on Friday, scoring the first two goals and adding an assist.
With 2:03 left in the fist period, Veloso scored to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. Assists went to Lane Gilliss and Caleb Jones.
Veloso scored again at 6:16 of the second period, off feeds from Alex Overhardt and Ryan Hughes.
Seattle pulled to within 2-1 four minutes later.
In the third period, Overhardt found the net at 16:21 for a 3-1 lead after a backhanded pass through a Seattle defender's legs by Veloso.
The Thunderbirds pulled their goaltender with about two minutes to go, and Portland's Keoni Texeira scored into an empty net from his end with 38.7 seconds left.
One concern for Hawks fans: the team's leading scorer, Cody Glass, did not return to the ice after the first period.