(ISN) – In a battle between two teams near the top of the league’s standings, the Portland Winterhawks (44-15-3-1) beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers 5-2 (43-16-1-3) Tuesday at the Rose Garden in front of 7,927 fans.
With the Tri-City Americans picking up a 3-1 win against Seattle tonight, the Hawks kept pace and remain just one point behind the Americans for top spot in the WHL with 92 points, while moving two points ahead of the Blazers.
The game was tied 1-1 going into the third, but the Hawks controlled play through much of the third period, scoring four goals and outshooting the Blazers 22-5 in the frame.
After a scoreless first period, Portland’s Oliver Gabriel opened the scoring 1:35 into the second period when he slid a backhand shot under Kamloops netminder Cam Lanigan’s glove to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. The Blazers tied the game at the 6:20 mark on a power play goal by Tim Bozon to make it 1-1, a score that would last into the third period.
The Hawks then struck with back-to-back goals just 16 seconds apart early in the third. First Marcel Noebels forced a turnover behind the Kamloops net and fed Sven Bartschi in front, who fired it past Lanigan to make it 2-1. Then just 16 seconds later Gabriel netted his second of the game with a shot from the right faceoff circle that beat Lanigan to put Portland up 3-1.
Portland added to the lead at the 11:11 mark during a four-on-three power play when defenseman Joe Morrow wired a shot past Lanigan to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead. Kamloops got one back at the 17:10 mark with a power play goal from Matt Needham to cut Portland’s lead to 4-2, but the Hawks came right back just under a minute later when Noebels took a great feed from Ty Rattie and scored his 20th of the season to give Portland a 5-1 lead that would stand as the final.
Mac Carruth added to his team record by picking up his league-leading 39th win of the season.
The Hawks are back in action Friday when they travel to Kennewick, WA to take on the Tri-City Americans. They then play back-to-back home games Saturday at 3 p.m. against Seattle in Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Sunday at 5 p.m. against Tri-Cities in the Rose Garden.