by Graham Kendrick
March 8, 2014, Portland (ISN) – The Portland Winterhawks (50-13-2-3) reached the 50-win mark for the second straight season with a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants (31-27-7-3) Saturday at the Moda Center in front of 9,609 fans.
The Hawks struck first, 3:33 into the game, when Brendan Leipsic kept the puck in the Vancouver zone and fed Oliver Bjorkstrand along the boards, who drew two defenders to him. Bjorkstrand then found Chase De Leo alone in front of the net, and De Leo beat Vancouver netminder Payton Lee for a 1-0 lead. Later in the period Vancouver tied it when Joel Hamilton scored a power play goal at the 16:28 mark to tie the game at 1-1, which remained the score going into the second.
Portland regained their lead 7:36 into the second when Leipsic cut across the crease and went to the backhand past Lee for a 2-1 Hawks lead, for the lone goal of the period.
Early in the third the Hawks made it 3-1 when Nic Petan made a great backhand pass out of the corner to Keegan Iverson in front of the net, with Iverson banging it past Lee for his 22nd goal of the season. With two minutes to go, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored to seal the Hawks’ 4-1 victory.
Adin Hill made his second career start in net for the Hawks and was outstanding, making 28 saves on 29 shots. Lee gave up four goals on 34 shots for the Giants.
Bjorkstrand and Leipsic each had two points for the Hawks in the win.
Tonight’s game was a possible first round playoff preview, as Portland is second in the Western Conference while Vancouver is seventh.
The Hawks are back in action Tuesday when they host the Tri-City Americans at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.