The Portland Winterhawks (34-30-6-1) fell 4-3 in a shootout in Seattle Saturday against the Thunderbirds (44-23-4-0), but the point they earned clinched third place in the U.S. Division
That point combined with the Spokane Chiefs losing to the Tri-City Americans assured the Hawks third place in the Division, and a first round playoff matchup with the Everett Silvertips.
The Hawks got off to a great start, with pressure on Seattle right from the opening whistle as they outshot the Thunderbirds 20-6 in the opening 20 minutes. Portland was rewarded for its efforts when Jack Dougherty scored on a 5-on-3 power play at the 10:57 mark for a 1-0 lead they took into the second.
Portland kept their foot on the pedal to open the second, and made it 2-0 on another power play at 2:47 of the second when Rihards Bukarts converted a great pass from Keegan Iverson to score his 31st of the season. Just under two minutes later Colton Veloso was stationed at the side of the net and banged in a loose puck as he staked the Hawks to a 3-0 advantage.
Seattle got one back at 12:34 on a power play when Scott Eansor scored to cut the Hawks’ lead to 3-1, which remained the score going into the third.
It stayed a two-goal game until 12:24 of the third, when Seattle’s Ethan Bear scored on a 5-on-3 power play to bring the Thunderbirds within one, 3-2. Then just 1:02 later with the second penalty still in effect, Alexander True scored to tie the game at 3-3, setting up overtime.
After neither team found the net in overtime, the game went to a shootout. Each team scored once in the first three rounds, and Donovan Neuls won it for the Thunderbirds in the fourth.
The Hawks close out the regular season tomorrow when they host the Thunderbirds at 5 p.m. in the Moda Center.