Graham Kendrick

In their last game before the league’s holiday break, the Portland Winterhawks (21-11-2-1) won an 8-6 decision in Spokane Saturday against the Chiefs (15-11-2-3).

The win improved Portland’s record to 4-0 against their divisional rivals this season.

The teams didn’t waste any time getting on the board, as the Hawks opened the scoring just 16 seconds into the game on Joey Baker’s second goal of the season. Spokane evened it at 1-1 at the 1:48 mark on a goal by Marek Kalus, but the Hawks went back on top when Chase De Leo scored at the 3:39 mark to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead they’d take into the second period.

They extended the lead to 3-1 just 1:05 into the second on the 21st goal of the season from Brad Ross. The Chiefs would cut the lead back down to one at the 3:26 mark when Collin Valcourt scored on a penalty shot to make it 3-2.

But the Hawks would answer, first with a power play goal from Ty Rattie at the 9:26 mark, then the second goal of the game from Ross, a shorthanded marker at the 17:25 mark to take a 5-2 lead. The Chiefs added a goal by Jarid Hauptman with a second remaining in the frame to make it 5-3 going into the third.

The Winterhawks then got consecutive goals from De Leo and fellow rookie Nic Petan 1:27 apart early in the third to take a commanding 7-3 lead, at which point the Chiefs replaced starting netminder Mac Engel with Luke Lee-Knight. The Chiefs got a goal from Anthony Bardaro at the 13:37 mark to make it 7-4, then got within two with just over two minutes remaining on a goal by Liam Stewart to make it 7-5.

But with Lee-Knight on the bench for an extra attacker, Portland defenseman William Wrenn scored into the open net to go up 8-5 with 31 seconds remaining. The Chiefs added a late goal from Hauptman to make it 8-6, and that would wrap up the scoring as the Hawks ended the first half of the season with the win.

Ross finished with four points with two goals and two assists. Ty Rattie had three points, while De Leo, Oliver Gabriel and Petan all finished with two points.

Portland was 1-3 on the power play, and a perfect 3-3 on the penalty kill, with a shorthanded goal.

The Hawks were without second-leading scorer Sven Bartschi, who is attending Switzerland’s World Junior tryout camp.

The WHL now enters a holiday break, and the Hawks will be off for over a week, with the next game set for Wednesday, December 28 at home against the Victoria Royals at the Rose Garden.