Oliver Gabriel recorded a natural hat trick and Mac Carruth kicked aside 25 shots, as the Portland Winterhawks (30-12-2-1, 63 pts) downed the visiting Tri-City Americans (33-10-0-0, 66 pts) 5-1 in front of 5,470 fans at the Rose Garden. With the win, the ‘Hawks notched their first win in six tries vs. Tri-City this season, while setting a new franchise mark for home wins in a season with 17. Meanwhile, Tri-City dropped back-to-back games for just the second time this season, wrapping up their 5-game road trip with a 2-3 record.
As if playing against the top 4 teams chasing you in the standings on the road wasn’t hard enough, Tri-City was notified earlier today that they would be without the services of Brendan Shinnimin for Monday’s final game of the road trip, following a 1-game suspension by the WHL.
Regardless, the Americans gave the ‘Hawks a fight, even taking the first lead of the contest. With 2:22 left to play in the first, Patrick Holland forced a turnover by Tyler Wotherspoon deep inside the Portland zone, eventually corralling the loose puck and burying his 18th goal of the season. For Holland, in addition to matching his personal-best point total (62) from last season, the goal extended his career-best 11-game point streak. Unfortunately for Tri-City, though, it was the lone bright spot on an otherwise frustrating night.
In the second period, after Tri-City had to kill off two 4-minute power plays in the first two periods, Portland finally began to wear down the Americans. Near the midway point of the second, Marcel Noebels was able to generate a brief 2-on-1 breakaway with Troy Rutkowski, eventually feeding the ‘Hawks defenseman in the right circle. From there, Rutkowski let a blast go that found space over the right shoulder of Ty Rimmer, knotting the game at 1. Nearly six minutes later, Gabriel netted his first of the night and the eventual game-winner.
With Tri-City down deep into the third, the Portland offense finally broke through for 3 goals less than seven minutes apart, to separate themselves from the Americans.
On their only power play of the period, the ‘Hawks made it count, as Gabriel swiped a clearing pass away from Mitch Topping and buried it on Rimmer. Then, four and a half minutes later, Brendan Leipsic forced a turnover in the Tri-City zone and found Gabriel backdoor who made it 4-1. Finally, with 2:59 left in regulation, Ty Rattie netted his 40th goal of the season following a great two-pass set-up involving Cam Reid and Sven Bartschi.
Rimmer finished the night with 35 saves on 40 shots, suffering a season-worst third consecutive loss. Meanwhile, Carruth stopped 25 of 26 to win his 9th straight start. Tri-City finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play, while Portland went 1-of-5 on the man-advantage.
There is no rest for the weary, however, as Tri-City will get back on the horse and prepare to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds (17-23-0-1) tomorrow, January 17 at the Toyota Center. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Seattle, coming off a come-from-behind 3-2 win in Spokane on Monday, will be looking to snap their 19-game losing skid inside the Toyota Center. Meanwhile, Tri-City will be looking to extend their 13-game home winning streak. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including online at ticketmaster.com, the Toyota Center box office, or all Fred Meyer outlets. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Oliver Gabriel, Portland
2, Brendan Leipsic, Portland
3, Troy Rutkowski, Portland