Winterhawks win big at Tri-City
The Portland Winterhawks' push for third place in the U.S. Division continued on Tuesday with a big Western Hockey League win over the Tri-City Americans.
Five Winterhawks scored goals in a 6-1 win at Kennewick, Washington, that gave Portland a three-point lead over the fourth-place Americans.
Portland (39-27-1-3, 82 points) has two regular-season games remaining: Saturday at Seattle and Sunday at home against Spokane. Tri-City (38-28-3-0, 79 points) has three games left.
The third-place team in the U.S. Division will play the second-place team in the division to open the playoffs. The fourth-place team will enter the playoffs as a wild- card team and face the champion of either the B.C. Division or the U.S. Division. Seattle, Prince George and Everett are within one point of each other in the battle for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Keegan Iverson scored twice and Skyler McKenzie, Lane Gilliss, Jake Gricius and Brett Clayton scored for Portland. Caleb Jones and Illijah Colina had two assists apiece.
The Hawks followed Sunday's furious finish for a win against Everett with a fast start at Tri-City. Portland led 3-0 after a strong first period.
McKenzie opened the scoring 5:47 into the game, recording his 42nd goal of the season off a Cody Glass assist.
Tri-City's Landon Fuller was given a five-minute major charging penalty for hitting Portland's Gricius late and high in the neutral zone, and the Winterhawks scored once on their extended power play. Iverson got the goal, deflecting home a shot from Jones.
Gilliss made it 3-0 14:51 into the first period. A shot by Brendan De Jong was deflected in front and Gilliss put it home for his sixth goal of the season.
In the second period, Gricius put in his own rebound for his 10th goal of the season and 4-0 Portland lead.
Tri-City's Kyle Olson scored with 7:01 left in the third period to pull the Americans within three goals.
But Iverson scored his second of the night, and 25th of the season, with 2:27 remaining, and Clayton scored his second of the season with 1:48 left on a breakaway.
Portland goalie Cole Kehler made 35 saves, 27 of those over the last two periods. It was his 31st win of the season and seventh in a row.
Portland finished 1 for 2 on the power play. Tri-City was 0 for 6 with an advantage. The Winterhawks killed off six consecutive Americans power plays after their five-minute advantage in the first period.
The Winterhawks' 7 p.m. Saturday game at Seattle will be shown live on CW32 (3).
Sunday's final regular-season game will be at 5 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.
The playoffs will likely begin on March 24, with Portland opening on the road unless there are building schedule conflicts.