The Portland Winterhawks (1-0) opened the season with a 7-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds (0-1) Saturday at the Moda Center in front of 8,705 fans.
Not only was it a win in the first game of the season, it was the first win for Vice President, General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston in his return to the Hawks’ bench.
Portland got on the board first 16:21 into the first on a power play when defenseman Keoni Texeira’s blast from the point got through traffic and beat Seattle netminder Rylan Toth for a 1-0 lead they took into the second.
Seattle tied it 37 seconds into the second when Donovan Neuls scored to even the game at 1-1, but Portland regained the lead four minutes later when Alex Overhardt scored his first of the season to make it 2-1.
The Thunderbirds responded again at 5:46 when Luke Ormsby scored to tie it once again at 2-2. Portland took their third lead of the game at 14:24 when Cody Glass fed a great pass into the slot that Ryan Hughes slapped past Toth to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead they held through 40 minutes.
Just 31 seconds into the third, Seattle tied it once again when Neuls scored his second of the game to make it 3-3. Undaunted, the Hawks took another lead at 12:19 when Cody Glass took a feed in front of the net and wired it in for a 4-3 lead.
The Hawks didn’t want to allow another Seattle equalizer, and on a power play at 14:53 Brendan De Jong went top shelf over Toth’s shoulder for his first career power play marker and a 5-3 advantage.
Skyler McKenzie then registered an empty net goal to make it 6-3, and then the Hawks added one more when rookie Brad Ginnell notched the first of his career to seal the 7-3 win.
Hughes and Evan Weinger each finished with three points in the win, while Glass and Texeira added two each.
Michael Bullion was solid in goal for the Hawks to earn the win, as he turned away 27 of 30 shots. Toth allowed six goals on 34 Portland shots, with the Hawks adding an empty net marker.
Portland was 2-4 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill.
The Hawks were missing three key players attending NHL training camps: Rodrigo Abols (Vancouver Canucks), Keegan Iverson (Minnesota Wild) and Caleb Jones (Edmonton Oilers).
Portland is back in action tomorrow when they host the Tri-City Americans at 5 p.m. at the Moda Center.