(ISN) – Brendan Leipsic registered his first career hat trick as the Portland Winterhawks (42-15-2-1) moved into first place in the WHL with an 8-1 win over the visiting Prince George Cougars (19-38-0-2) Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in front of 3,830 fans.
It was the Hawks’ eighth straight victory, and gives the team 87 points on the season, surpassing the Kamloops Blazers for first in both the Western Conference and the league. With 26 goals over their last three games, it’s the team’s highest three-game total since scoring 31 in three games from November 5-10, 1993.
Leipsic added two assists to his hat trick to finish with five points. It was the ninth hat trick by a Hawks player this season.
The Hawks were outstanding on special teams, going 4-5 with the man advantage, while killing the lone penalty called against them.
Portland opened the scoring 2:52 into the game when Ty Rattie scored from the slot, his 51st goal of the season, to give the Hawks an early 1-0 lead. They extended the lead at the 9:40 mark when Brad Ross scored his 36th of the season to put Portland ahead 2-0, a lead they took into the second period.
Like they did yesterday when these two teams met, the Hawks took control of the game with a big second period, scoring five goals in the frame, four of them on power plays
Marcel Noebels made it 3-0 at the 3:59 mark of the second when he tapped in a rebound on a power play. Then after Prince George’s Troy Bourke scored to make it 3-1, the Hawks came right back less than a minute later, getting a power play goal from Joe Morrow when his blast from the point beat Cougars goaltender Devon Fordyce to give Portland a 4-1 lead.
The Hawks then padded the lead with goals from Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic just 42 seconds apart to go ahead 6-1, then made it 7-1 going into the third period on a late power play goal by Leipsic.
Portland made it 8-1 at the 7:52 mark when Leipsic scored his third of the game, and that score would stand as the final.
In addition to Leipsic’s five points, the Hawks got three apiece from Noebels and Pouliot.
Rookie netminder Brendan Burke picked up the win in net for the Hawks, stopping 26 of 27 Prince George shots.
Several players extended lengthy point streaks in tonight’s game: Oliver Gabriel’s streak is at 12, while Bartschi has points in 11 straight. Pouliot extended his streak to eight games, while Rattie has a seven-game streak.
The Hawks are back in action Friday night when they host the Spokane Chiefs at the Rose Garden at 7 p.m.