Winterhawks outscore Royals
One of the more eventful games of the season produced a fifth consecutive home-ice win for the Portland Winterhawks.
Seven different players scored for Portland in a wild 8-5 Western Hockey League win over the Victoria Royals on Wednesday in front of 4,795 fans at Moda Center.
The Winterhawks scored the final three goals to pull away in a back-and-forth contest.
Kieffer Bellows scored two goals, and Conor MacEachern, Cody Glass, Mason Mannek, Joachim Blichfeld, Ryan Hughes and Skyler McKenzie notched goals for the Winterhawks.
Tyler Soy scored three goals for Victoria, in the process becoming the franchise leader for career regular-season goals with 142.
Portland improved to 32-18-1-3 for 68 points, three points back of U.S. Division leader Everett. That 68-point total equals Victoria (32-19-1-3) which has played one more game than Portland and is second in the B.C. Division, two points behind Kelowna.
The game was played at a high pace from the start.
Kaid Oliver started the scoring for the Royals 2:29 into the first period.
MacEachern tied the game at 10:42 by re-directing a Henri Jokiharju shot for his third goal of the season and his first while playing forward.
Forty-one seconds later, Glass put Portland up 2-1, finishing in front off a no-look back-hand pass from McKenzie out of the corner.
Victoria tied the score 3:02 later as Soy scored the first of his three consecutive Royals goals by converting at the back door off a quick cross-crease pass from Ralph Jarrat.
At the 18-minute mark of the first, Mannek put Portland up 3-2. He batted home a rebound after McNabb made a pad save on a low shot from Keoni Texeira.
Victoria quickly regained the lead at the start of the second period. Soy tied the count off a fortunate bounce at 41 seconds, then put home a wicked shot off the rush to make it 4-3 at 2:23 of the second.
Blichfeld made it a 4-4 game at 11:03 of the second, scoring his 17th of the season with a one-timer off an Alex Overhardt faceoff win.
Portland regained the lead at 12:21 of the second after a wild sequence. After Victoria's Dante Hannoun hit the post and the rebound sat tantalizingly behind goalie Cole Kehler, Portland's Glass went the other way with speed. McKenzie's drop pass set up Bellows in the slot, and he converted for his 27th of the season.
All of the end-to-end action was entertaining. But the best news for Portland in the second period was the return to the ice of Hughes. Hughes needed to be helped off the ice early in the first period after falling awkwardly on a non-contact play.
By the third period, Hughes appeared to be back at full speed, and he delivered the game-winning goal with a one-timer from the high slot off a drop pass from Blichfeld. It was Hughes' ninth goal of the season and came only 34 seconds after Matthew Phillips had tied the game at 5-5 with a two-on-one goal for Victoria.
Bellows added an insurance goal two minutes later with a nifty finish off the rush after collecting a floated cross-ice pass from Glass. Bellows has 28 goals this season.
An empty-net goal for McKenzie, who scored from his own side of center ice, sealed the win with 1:46 on the clock.
None of the 13 goals came on the power play, as Portland went 0 for 3 and Victoria 0 for 1.
The Hawks put the heat on Victoria rookie backup goalie McNabb throughout the game. McNabb (4-7) stopped 36 of 43 shots before giving way late to regular starter Griffen Outhouse, who stopped all three shots he faced.
Portland outshot Victoria, 43-28, but the Royals tested Hawks goalie Kehler (25-13) with many of their shots and scored on a series of nice passing combinations.
The Winterhawks have another three-game weekend ahead. Tri-City is at Moda Center at 7 p.m. Friday. Portland travels to Kent, Washington, for a 6 p.m. Saturday game against Seattle, then is home at 5 p.m. Sunday to take on the Thunderbirds at Memorial Coliseum.