Portland came out firing on all cylinders and outshot Seattle 46-23 Saturday night at the Memorial Coliseum, but fell to the Thunderbirds by a score of 4-2 in the preseason opener.
The Winterhawks outshot Seattle 15-5 in the first period and 18-6 in the second period, but struggled to get the puck past Thunderbird goalkeeper Kyle Jahraus, who played an outstanding game, making 44 saves on the evening.
“I thought we had a lot of pucks to the net, we had 46 shots and we were banging bodies, we were really competitive and we won most of our battles,” said Winterhawks forward Ryan Johansen. “A loss is always bad, but there were a lot of positives.”
Portland opened the scoring during the second period when Troy Rutkowski fed Brad Ross, who slid the puck between Jahraus’ legs to give Portland the 1-0 lead at the 13:20 mark. Seattle fought back at the end of the period and tied the score when Erik Fleming and Brandon Troock assisted on a goal by Steve Chaffin, who found the back of the net during a Thunderbird power play at 18:23.
Coming out of the second intermission, Seattle scored the go-ahead goal at 9:42 off of another power play by Chance Lund, with assists from Brenden Tutt and Tyler Alos. Jacob Doty gave the Thunderbirds a two-goal lead with his marker at the 11:33 mark of the third period, but the Winterhawks continued to apply pressure.
Less than a minute after Seattle scored their third goal of the game and improved their lead by two, Ty Rattie capitalized on a big rebound and found the net to bring Portland to within one.
Portland kept coming at Seattle, with 13 shots during the final period, including several that caromed off the goalposts.
With just over a minute to play Portland pulled goalie Keith Hamilton for an extra attacker, but Seattle’s Luke Lockhart stole the puck and found Lund, who put one into the open net for his second goal of the evening at 19:46 to secure the Seattle victory.
“It’s a good building block, a lot of rookies played and got their first game in…it was a good experience for them,” said defenseman Joe Morrow.
After a week of training camp, practices and the intrasquad Neely Cup, Morrow said he was excited to finally play an actual opponent.
“It’s a lot different. You might take it a little easy on your own teammates,” he said. “But out there it’s every man for himself and you have to give it all you’ve got.”
“I’m very excited for the season to start. I’ve been anxious since I’ve talked to Mike (Johnston) and with who he’s been brining in, this team’s going to be outstanding,” he said.
The Winterhawks will return to the ice next weekend for three games in Everett’s annual tournament. Portland’s regular season opener is September 19 in Seattle, and the home opener is September 26 at the Memorial Coliseum, also against the Thunderbirds.