KENNEWICK, Wash. - Marcel Noebels scored the game-winner at 7:52 of overtime to lead the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-4 victory Friday night over the Tri-City Americans in the opening game of the Western Hockey League Western Conference final.
"I thought the game was really even both ways," Portland coach Mike Johnston said. "It was a well played game. There wasn't a lot of extra stuff out there and I thought it was a disciplined game. I thought in the overtime they really outplayed us, but I thought for the most part the game was dead even."
Portland, who had the lead four different times in regulation, made its one shot in the extra session count.
Sven Bartschi made the assist on Noebels’ game-winning goal with a beautiful cross-ice pass.
"I think the pass from Bartschi was incredible," Noebels said. "On that shot I thought 'go high.' I shot it and it went in. We have to be smarter on those penalties. I think 5-on-5 we can beat them We have to stay out of the box. It was an amazing game out there."
For every goal the Winterhawks scored, the Americans had an answer.
Patrick Holland's second goal of the game, at 9:07 in the third period on the power play, tied the score at 3-3.
Portland came back with a power-play goal by Joe Morrow at 10:56 as his shot from the left point glanced off Ty Rimmer's pads and popped into the net for a 4-3 lead.
Tri-City defenseman Mitch Topping, who had four goals during the regular season, took a pass off the back wall from Malte Stromwall and beat Mac Carruth in the top left corner of the net at 15:09 for his fourth goal of the playoffs and a tie game.
Portland had a 1-0 lead after the first period, but Tri-City's Brendan Shinnimin ran his scoring streak to 35 games, scoring from the between the circles on the power play at 6:26 to even the score.
Two minutes later, Bartschi gave Portland a 2-1 lead, as his diving shot went high glove side on Rimmer.
Cam Reid extended Portland’s lead to 3-1 at 15:47 as his shot from inside the left face-off circle found the net for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
The Americans, working on their second power play of the period, needed just 19 seconds to pull within 3-2 with a goal by Holland.
Rimmer made several brilliant saves in the first, including a stop of a Bartschi breakaway. The rebound got away from Rimmer after the shot and Brendan Leipsic was there to clean up for his fourth goal of the playoffs with 19.9 seconds left in the period.
The Americans had 14 shots on goal — several up close and personal on Carruth — but the Portland goalie denied them all. Carruth finished with 43 saves.