For the Reporter
Left wing Zack Andrusiak scored two goals in regulation and winning shootout goal to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-4 WHL win over the Portland Winterhawks at Veterans Memorial Arena on Friday night.
The T-Birds (30-24-7-2) are six points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference. The T-Birds have three games in hand on the Blazers. They are three points behind the Tri-City Americans for the first wild-card playoff spot.
In the shootout, Portland elected to go first and sent out Kieffer Bellows. Seattle goalie Liam Hughes made a right pad save on Bellows. Noah Philp, the T-Birds’ first shooter, went backhand, forehand and snuck the puck past Portland goalie Cole Kehler at the right post. Initially, the referees waved no goal but went to video review. After a few minutes the referees indicated Philp’s attempt was a good goal.
Hughes stopped Portland’s second shooter, Joachim Blichfeld, with a stick save, while Kehler stopped Austin Strand.
Cody Glass, the third Portland shooter, beat Hughes through the legs, and Kehler made a save on Donovan Neuls.
Hughes made a right pad save on Dennis Cholowski, the fourth Portland shooter. Andrusiak came over the boards as the fourth Seattle shooter. Andrusiak skated toward Kehler and snapped a wrist shot over the glove to win the game and send his teammates racing from the bench to mob him.
Hughes finished the game with 36 saves and improves his record to 12-10-4-1.
Seattle opened the scoring at 14:27 of the first period. Philp knocked down a Portland pass in the Seattle zone to create a two-on-one break with Andrusiak. Philp skated down the left wing, faked a wrist shot and then slid the puck over to Andrusiak in the right circle. Andrusiak put the puck past Kehler, sprawling to try and make the save. The goal was Andrusiak’s team-leading 28th of the season.
Portland (38-20-1-4) tied the game 1-1 at 17:17 of the first on a goal from Ty Kolle.
Andrusiak struck at 2:13 of the second period to give the T-Birds a 2-1 lead. Neuls carried the puck down the left wing and from the low left circle crossed the puck through the slot to Andrusiak at the back door. Andrusiak had a lot of net to shoot and buried the puck for his second goal of the game.
Neuls made it a 3-1 lead at 8:19 of the second. Andrusiak sent the puck low behind the Portland net to Philp, who came out from behind the net at the left post and centered the puck to Neuls in the slot. Neuls first shot was stopped by Kehler, but he put back the rebound for his 21st goal of the season.
The Winterhawks tied the game 3-3 with two goals in six seconds midway through the third period. Glass scored on the power play at 9:47 and Blichfeld scored at 9:53.
Portland took a 4-3 lead at 12:31 of third on a goal from Ryan Hughes. Glass and Bellows had the assists.
The T-Birds tied the game 4-4 on a scramble goal at 15:58 of the third. Turner Ottenbreit took a slap shot the Kehler stopped. The puck lay in the crease and Andrusiak got a stick on it. After several seconds the puck popped out to the right of Kehler. Philp skated to the puck, spun around and took a wrist shot with Kehler on the ice. Philp’s shot hit the top right corner to tie the game.
Portland finished the game with a 40-37 advantage in shots.
Kehler’s record is 25-15-1-4 after making 33 saves.
Back to Everett, then home
The T-Birds travel to Everett to take on the Silvertips at Angel of the Winds Arena at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. They return to accesso ShoWare Center on Sunday to play the Winterhawks at 5:05 p.m. The Sunday game is being broadcast on JOEtv Channel 22/Cable 110.
Order tickets on the T-Birds website or drop by the ShoWare box office.
First period – 1, Seattle, Andrusiak 28 (Philp), 14:27. 2, Portland, Kolle (Hughes, Jokiharju), 17:17. Penalties – Glass, Sea (hooking), 12:09.
Second period – 3, Seattle, Andrusiak 29 (Neuls), 2:13. 4, Seattle, Neuls 21 (Philp, Andrusiak), 8:19. Penalties – Huo, Sea (delay of game), 10:03. Overhardt, Por (interference), 15:06.
Third period – 5, Portland, Glass 31 (Jokiharju, Cholowski), 9:47 (pp). 6, Portland, Blichfeld 22 (Texeira, Overhardt), 9:53. 7, Portland, Hughes 15 (Glass, Bellows), 12:31. 8, Seattle, Philp 13 (Andrusiak, Ottenbreit), 15:58. Penalties – Quigley, Por (boarding), 10:15.
Overtime – No scoring. Penalties – No penalties.
Shootout – Seattle 2 (Philp G, Strand NG, Neuls NG, Andrusiak NG). Portland 1 (Bellows NG, Blichfeld NG, Glass G, Cholowski NG).
Shots on goal – Seattle 9-12-14-2-1 38, Portland 14-15-10-1-0 40. Goalies – Seattle, Hughes 40 shots-36 saves (12-10-4-1); Portland, Kehler 37-33 (26-15-1-4). Power plays – Seattle 0-3; Portland 1-1. A – 6,124. Referees – Tyler Adair, Duncan Brow. Linesmen – Michael Labbe, Brett Mackey.