The Portland Winterhawks and Vancouver Giants faced off on December 17, 2022 in Portland, OR.
Score: Portland (5) / Vancouver (4) – OT
SOG: Portland (46) / Vancouver (39)
Saves: Portland – Giannuzzi (36) / Vancouver – Vikman (14/17) & Mirwald (27/29).
The Winterhawks and Giants played back-to-back games trading home ice on Friday and Saturday. Game 1 in Vancouver, B.C. the Winterhawks won the game 2-1 behind stellar defense and goaltending by Jan Spunar.
Game 2 in Portland, OR would be the final game before the holiday break, and was the Winterhawks Holiday Sweater Night. The team wore custom holiay sweater jerseys designed by their own Equipment Assistant Logan Acebo. The VMC was certainly filled with the holiday spirit as the players and fans donned their holiday sweaters and attire.
The Winterhawks looked to take control of the game early getting several quality scoring chances in the first half of play. That agressive attack would be rewarded in the 11th minute with the first goal scored by James Stefan notching his 7th goal of the season. The Winterhawks largely controlled the pace of play, and were the dominant team throuhgout the period with the score 1-0 at the end of the first period.
In the second period the Winterhawks found the net off goals by Carter Sotheran, and James Sefan notching his second of the night to go up 3-0 at the end of the 2nd period. Through the majority of the 2nd period the Winterhawks continued to press as the more agressive team behind the solid defensive play of goalie Giannuzzi. Vancouver continued to press looking for scoring chances, and were eventually rewarded in the wanning minutes by Madzen Leslie scoring to end the period 3-1.
Heading into the 3rd period the Giants looked push the attack immediately scoring their 2nd goal only 23 seconds into the period by Ty Thorpe. The goal seemed to give the Giants new life, and minutes later Dylan Anderson would tie the game at 3-3 stunning the Winterhawks and their fans. The momentum had shifted in the Giants favor, and it breathed new life into their attack. They continued to press goal scoring opportunities throughout the preiod. They were rewarded with their grit when Ty Thorpe scored the go-ahead goal, and second of the night to put Vancouver up 4-3 with 3 mintues remaining. All was not lost for the Winterhawks as a minute later Aidan Litke took advantage of the Vancouver defense to score the tieing goal notching a 4-4 score to end regulation, and rejuvenating both his team and home crowd.
The overtime format in the WHL is 3v3 for 5-minutes, and the first team to score wins. After 5-minutes it shifts to a shootout. The atmosphere was rocking in the VMC heading into overtime. Both teams were cautious not to over extend on the offensive zone for fear of the quick counter attack. Each team prodded the other looking for scoring opportunities. Eventually Portland’s Ryan Mcleary would find the back of the net securing 2-points and the win for the Winterhawks. The Winterhawks improve their record to 23-4-2-1 to keep them in 1st place in the Western Division.