EDMONTON, Alberta A Portland Winterhawks comeback – actually, comebacks for the ages has forced a Game 7 for the Western Hockey League championship.
Keegan Iverson scored at 7:23 of overtime as Portland rallied and stunned the host Edmonton Oil Kings 6-5 Sunday at Rexall Place. The stunner tied the best-of-seven WHL championship series 3-3.
Because the Trail Blazers are playing San Antonio in the NBA playoffs on Monday at Moda Center, Game 7 of the WHL finals will be played at 7 p.m. Monday at Memorial Coliseum in what the franchise already has tabbed "the biggest WHL game in Portland ... ever."
It's hard to argue, especially given the circumstances.
The Hawks trailed 3-0 after one period Sunday and 5-2 after two against the Oil Kings, whose structure and defense had limited to Portland to only four goals in the previous three games, securing momentum for Edmonton heading to Game 6 on home ice.
It didn't look good for the Hawks.
But, on a night when all five Portland regulation goals came from defensemen, the Hawks staged a tremendous comeback in the third period against an Edmonton team that Portland general manager/coach Mike Johnston knew played well with the lead.
Mathew Dumba scored his second goal of the game and eighth of the playoffs at 2:57 on the power play to bring Portland within 5-3. Then, rookie defenseman Keoni Texeira, after an up-ice rush with Chase De Leo, pounded the puck past Edmonton goalie Tristan Jarry at 6:09.
The Hawks continued to put on the pressure. Off a play by Brendan Leipsic, Derrick Pouliot shot the puck through Edmonton's Griffin Reinhart and past Jarry at 11:14 of the period.
Iverson turned out to be a hero, after his turnover in the second period erased some Portland momentum. His overtime shot beat Jarry for the game-winner.
The Oil Kings looked like they would turn the game into a rout in the first period, as Henrik Samuelsson scored twice and Edgars Kulda added another goal to make it 3-0.
Portland replaced goalie Corbin Boes with Brendan Burke and came out firing in the second period. The Hawks narrowed the deficit to 3-2 on Dumba's rocket of a shot during a 5-on-3 power play. Then, after Jarry stoned De Leo on a breakaway and got lucky when Nic Petan's shot hit the crossbar, defenseman Anton Cederholm beat Jarry at 13:12.
The momentum was quickly snuffed out. Iverson turned over the puck, and Reid Petryk fed Curtis Lazar, who beat Burke to make it 4-2 less than a minute later. The Oil Kings moved ahead 5-2 when Kulda scored his second goal on a breakaway during 4-on-4 play, again less than a minute later.
But the Winterhawks wouldn't be denied in the third period and overtime. And, now there'll be a Game 7 to determine the WHL champion and the WHL's representative in the Memorial Cup in London Ontario.