Chase De Leo's goal early in the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and the Portland Winterhawks closed round-robin play at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup by beating the host Saskatoon Blades 4-2 on Wednesday at Credit Union Centre.
Ty Rattie and Brendan Leipsic also had goals as part of a three-goal third period for Portland. Derrick Pouliot also scored for the Winterhawks, and goalie Mac Carruth, a Chicago Blackhawks prospect, made 29 saves.
MEMORIAL CUP SCHEDULE
May 18 - Halifax 7, Portland 4
May 19 - Saskatoon 5, Halifax 2
May 20 - Portland 6, London 3
May 21 - Halifax 9, London 2
May 22 - Portland 4, Saskatoon 2
May 23, 8 p.m. ET - Tiebreaker game: London vs. Saskatoon
May 24, 8 p.m. ET - Semifinals: Portland vs. tie-breaker game winner
May 26, 7 p.m. ET - Finals: Halifax vs. semifinals winner
"They are tight defensively and we knew it would be hard, so to get three quick [goals] like that was really big for the boys, gave us a bit more confidence and a little bit more leeway defensively, and ultimately puts us through to the semifinal," Rattie, who now is tied for the tournament lead with four goals and is second with seven points, told the CHL website.
The win sends Portland, the Western Hockey League champions, to the semifinal game, which will be played Friday. Saskatoon will face the London Knights in the tie-breaker game Thursday, with the winner playing Portland. London beat Saskatoon 3-2 in the tournament's opening game May 17.
Portland's win also means the Halifax Mooseheads, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion, advances to the championship game on Sunday.
With the game tied 1-1 entering the third period, Portland forward Oliver Bjorkstrand, a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft, fired a shot that knocked the stick out of Makarov's hand. The puck bounced in front and De Leo was able to knock in his second chance at the rebound at 4:08.
Portland made it 3-1 just over two minutes later on a play started by defenseman Seth Jones, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater for this year's draft. Jones sent the puck along the left wall in the Saskatoon zone to Petan. He centered a pass to Leipsic, a Nashville Predators prospect, who scored from the slot at 6:27.
Rattie, a top St. Louis Blues prospect, added an insurance goal at 10:16, scoring off a pass by Petan, No. 33 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for this year's draft. Petan had two assists in the game.
"I thought we were really good," Winterhawks coach Travis Green said. "We knew they were going to play physical against us … in between the second and third periods, we talked about sticking with the program, playing the way we want to play, and it paid off for us in the third period."
Nicholls' fourth goal of the tournament, at 16:27, made it 4-2, but that would be as close as Saskatoon could get.
"We were right there," Blades coach Lorne Molleken said. "These teams are all skilled teams, and if we get into that game, it's going to be difficult on us."
A scoreless first period saw the WHL rivals play a fierce, physical game. Each team was whistled for two penalties, but the biggest hit came at 12:50 of the period when Saskatoon defenseman Dalton Thrower hit Portland's Taylor Leier in the head as Leier cut through the Saskatoon zone. Leier, a Saskatoon native, landed face-first on the ice, and after staying down for a few moments, he was able to skate off the ice with assistance. He did not return to the game.
Pouliot, selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the eighth pick of the 2012 draft, opened the scoring 6:44 into the second when he took advantage of a Saskatoon turnover and fired a shot from above the circles that fooled Makarov and went between his pads.
Saskatoon tied the game on McColgan's power-play goal, which came at the end of a long man-advantage chance for the Blades that included a 5-on-3 for 1:21 during which they got just one shot. Portland was one second away from getting back to full strength when McColgan, a New York Rangers draft pick, attempted a pass through the crease that bounced off the skate of a Portland player and went between Carruth's skates at 11:20.