With Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
March 10, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Using a hat-trick from Chase DeLeo and a four-assist performance from Taylor Leier, the Portland Winterhawks cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Victoria Royals in WHL action on Sunday afternoon in front of a sell-out crowd of 7,006 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria.
The Winterhawks showed the crowd why they are the top team in the WHL and the second ranked team in all of the CHL, as they attacked the Royals in waves over the first two periods, outshooting the Royals 33-16 in that span and it was only the fine play of Royals netminder Coleman Vollrath that kept the game close.
Portland’s Preston Kopeck appears to nearly kick the puck past Victoria goaltender Coleman Vollrath in second period action Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Portland would open the scoring 3:24 into the first period on an Oliver Bjorkstrand marker. Winterhawks’ forward Taylor Leier corralled a loose puck in the left corner and circled behind the Victoria net before he centered a pass to Bjorkstrand. The Portland rookie quickly one-timed a shot over the right pad of Vollrath and gave the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Portland’s Chase DeLeo would notch the hat-trick in the Winterhawks 5-2 win over Victoria on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Royals’ best chance to equalize came with less than one second remaining in the first period. Joe Hicketts fired a point shot that bounced loose in the Winterhawks’ crease before Brandon Magee attempted to jam the puck in. Magee got the shot away, but he was denied on the goal line by the glove of Burke and Portland held a 1-0 advantage after 20 minutes of play.
Potential #1 NHL Draft Pick Seth Jones would have a solid night with a goal and an assist in the Winterhawk win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Winterhawks doubled their lead at the 9:48 mark of the second period. After a turnover at the Royals’ blue line, Leier and Chase De Leo broke in on a two-on-one. Leier fed a quick pass to De Leo who made a beautiful move to his backhand and slid the puck past the outstretched leg of Vollrath.
Portland later increased their lead to 3-0 at the 13:08 mark. On a delayed penalty call against Victoria, Ty Rattie hit Seth Jones with a pass at the right point before the Portland defenceman wired a wrist shot over the shoulder of the Victoria goaltender. The Royals trailed the Winterhawks 3-0 as the two clubs headed into the second intermission.
Portland’s Taylor Leier (20) would have a 4 assist evening against the Royals on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Logan Nelson helped Victoria cut the lead to 3-1 with his 13th goal of the season at 7:47 of the third period. Nelson entered the Portland zone along the right wing and launched a hard snap shot from the right face-off circle that beat Burke inside the far post.
Before the Royals could pull within one, the Winterhawks added a fourth goal just after the midway point of the final frame. Leier spun off a check behind the Royals’ net before he dished a backhanded pass to De Leo who banged home his second marker of the night from the top of the crease at 10:54.
Royals’ rookie Joe Hicketts thrilled the sell-out crowd in the late stages of the game when he potted his third goal of the season 18:49. Hicketts caused a turnover inside the Portland zone and, despite being tripped, was able to get a shot on net from his knees that beat Burke and cut the lead to 4-2. That was as close as the home team would come as De Leo added an empty net tally to complete the hat-trick at 19:17 and seal the victory for the Winterhawks.
Portland’s Nicolas Petan looks for an opening in the Royals end on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Victoria went 0/1 = 0.0% on the powerplay while Portland was 0/2 = 0.0%. The Winterhawks outshot the Royals 44-29.
With the win, the Winterhawks clinched home ice advantage through the playoffs and bring home the Scotty Munro Trophy, awarded annually to the team finishing with the WHL’s top record. It’s the first time Portland has won the Scotty Munro Trophy since 1997-98, when they had 111 points en route to winning the Memorial Cup.
The Royals next home game is Tuesday, March 12th when they welcome back the Winterhawks for the back half of their two-game series. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.