Winterhawks Take 1-0 Series Lead

The Prince George Cougars came flying out of the gate on Friday night. They outshot the Winterhawks 16-10 in the first period and were hitting anyone in a Portland uniform. However, it would be the Winterhawks who got the last laugh in this one, as they turned the tide in the second period and didn’t look back.

When I previewed this series, I mentioned a big challenge will be how both teams Special Teams play against each other, and that’s just how it started. Brendan de Jong slotted home a PP goal to open the scoring for Portland at just over four minutes into the first period. The Cougars answered with their own PP goal with just over two minutes left in the period, but that was short lived.

Skyler McKenzie¬†scored with just over a minute to go in the first to put the Winterhawks up 2-1. A late period goal can make or break a team, I’m not sure if that’s what happened here, but the second period was very different from the first.

While it was Prince George who came out firing in the first, the second was all Portland. The Winterhawks dominated shots, 16-5, and appeared to have captured all the energy in the building. Just under three minutes into the period, Winterhawks goalie Cole Kehler made an incredible save, on the short-handed Cougars, but that wasn’t the best part.

Kehler, after stopping the breakaway, had the wherewithal to not ice it, shifting the puck to Cody Glass. Glass skated into the neutral zone, found Captain Keegan Iverson open, and he wasted no time scoring a beauty to put Portland up 3-1. Another PP goal, and this one would prove to be the game winner.

Portland Winterhawks Prince George Cougars WHL Playoffs CHL Junior Hockey British Columbia

The Cougars did bring the game back to within one, shortly into the third, but it didn’t matter. They would only manage three more shots for a period total of four, while Portland shut them down defensively. Colton Veloso iced the game with an empty-netter, and the Winterhawks walked away with a 4-2 win, and a 1-0 series lead.

There’s still a lot of this series left, but we did see a good part of what we can expect. Portland’s big guns of Iverson, Glass, and Jones were able to get on the scoresheet, and their defense was very solid in shutting down the multifaceted offense of the Cougars.

Game 2 is tomorrow night from Prince George, start time 5 p.m. PDT.

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