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WHL US Division: Portland Winterhawks fall to 3-3 in preseason

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Absent some key players, the Portland Winterhawks went 1-2 in the Tri-City preseason tournament to fall to 3-3 in the exhibition season.

Alex Overhardt in a scrape.
Alex Overhardt in a scrape.
Jimmy Budinski

The Portland Winterhawks continued their preseason traveling South East from Everett to Tri-City for three games against the Prince George Cougars, Spokane Chiefs, and the Everett Silvertips. Portland came into Kennewick, WA with a 2-1 preseason record with an impressive performance in the first game and gritty performances in the last two games in Everett, WA. a week ago. These three games would be different as nine of the team's NHL Prospects had left for their perspective NHL preseason camps.

Portland's Alex Overhardt - Picture taken by Jimmy Budinski

Portland's Alex Overhardt - Picture taken by Jimmy Budinski

TRI-CITY TOURNAMENT

Defeated the Prince George Cougars 3-2

In the first game against the Prince George Cougars, the young Winterhawk team came out a bit tentative against a Prince George team seeking their first preseason win for 2015. Neither team scored in the first period, but Prince George's squad looked hungry early, firing off 13 shots at Winterhawk net minder Adin Hill. That all changed in the second period when the Portland Winterhawks rattled off three goals to Prince George's one, taking the two goal lead into the second intermission. #24 Brett Clayton, #8 Cody Glass, and #29 Austin Gray (on power play) all saw the back of the net in the second period for Portland. Clayton netted his second of the preseason while Glass and Gray scored their first.

Prince George made a valiant effort to come back in the third period and scored an extra attacker goal with 41 seconds remaining in regulation. With Adin Hill in net, however, scoring the tying goals in such a short amount of time proved to be too tough for the winless Cougars. Hill stopped 32-of-34 shots for Portland, with most of those shots coming in the first and second periods (13 each).

Lost to the Spokane Chiefs 2-7

In their earlier matchup in Everett, Portland imposed their will on Spokane in a dominating 7-2 victory, but this a much different game. Spokane returned the favor with a 7-2 victory over the young Portland squad.  #22 Dominic Swerger for Spokane, tallied 2 goals and an assist in the win while the hometown hero #9 Keanu Tamamoto assisted on four of Spokane's goals. Portland was tied 2-2 with Spokane behind goals from #43 Skyler McKrenzie and #29 Austin Gray, but after the second intermission, it was all Spokane.

The Chiefs scored five unanswered goals off of 23 shots on the Portland goal tender #30 Ethan Middendorf, overwhelming the inexperienced Portland defense on route to the easy win. Spokane scored seven goals off of 51 shots in the game, which was a much different outcome from when they only scored two goals on 32 shots in their first meeting. Granted, the second year, more experienced Adin Hill was in net that evening, but the Spokane Chiefs were going to make sure to take full advantage of the less experienced Winterhawk, Middendorf.

Lost to the Everett Silvertips 3-1

The third and final game in the Toyota Center was against the Everett Silvertips.  These two teams met in Everett last week with the Silvertips narrowly taking the match with a 4-3 penalty filled game.

This meeting was a more disciplined game with only seeing a total of six penalties (three per team), which was a different atmosphere from the 10 penalty game in their previous battle. Portland was sent to the sin bin seven times to Everett's three the previous week, which proved to be a game changer when Everett scored the final two goals off of special teams to take the lead and later win the game.

This latest game saw all of the action in the second period as all four goals was netted in the second frame of the match.  The only goal for the Portland Winterhawks came off of #17 Alex Overhardt's stick. Overhardt is having a stellar preseason with four goals and two assists with a +4 in six preseason games. Everett took the victory 3-1, making the Silvertips 2-0 against their US Division rivals.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Portland is now 3-3 in preseason play with one more tune up to go before they start their 2015-2016 regular season in Victoria B.C. on Friday, September 25 against the Victoria Royals. The Winterhawks will be seeing a familiar foe as they will face the Everett Silvertips for their third and final time before the games start counting, at home in Portland, on Friday September 18.