Bartschi’s Winner Lifts Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. – Sven Bartschi scored the game winning goal on the power play for the Portland Winterhawks after Riley Boychuck made a behind the back pass from behind the Kamloops Blazers’ net to Ty Rattie. Kamloops’ goaltender Jeff Bosch made the pad save on Rattie’s shot, but gave up the rebound to Batschi who scored his team leading 21st goal and gave the Winterhawks a 5-4 victory.

Logan McVeigh’s hooking penalty after the face-off in the Kamloops Blazer’s defensive zone at 15:18 in the third period allowed Portland’s man advantage that led to Bartschi’s goal.

The Blazers took the early lead in the game when Brendan Ranford found Colin Smith open in the slot for Smith’s seventh goal of the season at 7:09 in the first period.  At 13:40. Kamloops defenseman Bronson Maschmeyer scored on the power play after receiving a pass from Smith, to give the Blazers 2-0 lead. Maschmeyer waited for Portland goaltender Mac Carruth to drop before finding the top of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

Carruth stopped 30 shots and earned his 16th win of the season.

Just 48 seconds after Maschmeyer’s tally, Oliver Gabriel answered for Portland on the power play when a pass from Brad Ross found him open in front of the net. Gabriel fanned on his first shot, but still had time to recover and sneak his shot past Bosch’s right pad to pull Portland within one.

Bosch (11-6-1-0) stopped 38 Portland shots. Ross was one of nine players who returned to their junior clubs on Tuesday after trying-out for the Canadian National Junior Team.

Late in the first, Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter tied the game for Portland when he fought off two defenders and pushed a pass from Ross between Bosch’s pads with 59 seconds left.

Just 57 seconds into the second period, Kamloops took back the one-goal lead early when Brendan Ranford faked a slap shot on Carruth’s left side then carried the puck across the top of the circles and fired a wrist shot past Carruth’s blocker.

Portland answered again when forward Spencer Bennett tied the game at 3-3 at 5:47 in the second period after coming out of the penalty box. Bosch tried to play the puck behind his net, but turned it over to Taylor Aronson who gave the puck to Bennett in front to score the empty net.

Niederreiter scored two goals and earned one assist for Portland. His second goal with 8:45 in the second period came on a no-look backhand shot that beat Bosch top glove and gave Portland a one-goal lead.

Ranford scored his second goal of the game at 14:56 in the second period when Kamloops tied the game 4-4 on a 5-on-3 power play. Ranford leads the league in scoring with 28 goals and 25 assists in 32 games.

Portland improves to 25-8-0-3 and continues their domination of the Western Conference. Kamloops falls to one game under .500 with a 15-16-1-1 record that the puts them last in the B.C. Division.

Kamloops continues their road trip visiting Prince George on Friday. Portland visits Seattle on Saturday.

Portland is without forward Ryan Johansen, who was named to Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y. The tournament takes place from December 26th  2010 through January 5th, 2011.

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