In the first of two straight games between the WHL’s top two teams, the Portland Winterhawks (44-8-1-2) beat the Kelowna Rockets (40-12-3-1) 5-3 Friday.
Portland’s win snapped Kelowna’s 23-game winning streak at home, and they took a seven-point lead over the second place Rockets in the WHL’s overall standings.
The Hawks struck early as Taylor Leier scored 2:21 into the game to give Portland a 1-0 lead. Then at the 14:18 mark, Presten Kopeck tipped a shot from Adam de Champlain past Rockets netminder Jordon Cooke to give Portland a 2-0 lead going into the second period.
The Hawks made it 3-0 at the 5:36 mark of the second when Nic Petan took a great feed from Brendan Leipsic and scored his 37th of the season. Leier then notched his second of the game when he found himself alone in the slot and beat Cooke to make it 4-0 going into the third.
Kelowna got on the board 6:19 into the third on a power play goal from JT Barnett, then made it a 4-2 game on a goal from Cody Fowlie. The Rockets cut it to 4-3 with a late goal from Colton Sissons, but with under a minute to go Brendan Leipsic scored an empty net goal to seal the 5-3 win.
Leier, Leipsic and Rattie all finished with two points for the Winterhawks.
Mac Carruth got the win in net, making 29 saves on 32 shots. Cooke took the loss for Kelowna, allowing four goals on 33 shots, with Portland adding an empty net goal.
The two teams are back in action again tomorrow in Kelowna at 7 p.m.