The WHL-leading Portland Winterhawks are at Toyota Center tonight to take on the Tri-City Americans.
It’s Nuclear Night and the Americans are wearing Nuclear-inspired jerseys that will be up for auction. There also are other item for sale. All proceeds will benefit the Americans player’s education fund.
On paper, the Hawks look indestructible. Nic Petan leads the league in scoring with 83 points, while teammate Brendan Leipsic is second with 78 points.
Throw in goalie Mac Carruth, who is 21-3-0-2 with a league-leading 1.89 goals against average, and a defense that has yielded the second-fewest goals allowed (110), you have the complete package.
With a 3-0 shutout of Spokane on Friday, Carruth recorded his ninth career shutout, setting a Portland franchise record (Lanny Ramage and Kurtis Mucha each had 8). It was his fifth shutout this season, tying him with Ramage, who had five in 2000-01.
Hard to believe a franchise as old as Portland (37 years) only has a franchise record of 9 career shutouts. Tri-City’s record is 15 by Carey Price (2002-07), while Chet Pickard has 12 (2005-09) and Drew Oswley 9 (2008-11).
Carruth will get the night off. Brendan Burke will be in net for the Winterhawks. Also with the night off, is Portland forward Keegan Iverson, who was suspended by the WHL for four games for a checking to the head major and game misconduct vs. Spokane on Jan. 21. So talented, yet watching from the stands.
The Hawks hit the skids recently, losing four games in a row last week before beating Spokane 3-0 on Friday.
Portland is 5-1 against the Americans this season, with Tri-City’s lone win coming Dec. 7 at the Rose Garden. Luke Lee-Knight had 44 saves in the win that saw Connor Rankin score two goals.
In a 6-4 loss to Medicine Hat on Friday, Americans captain Justin Feser had two assists, passing Kruise Reddick and Stu Barnes to move into seventh on the Americans all-time assists list. He also extended his point streak to 11 games.
Feser, the WHL’s Iron man, is playing his 299th consecutive game tonight. The WHL record is 311, held by Dwayne Newman (1988-1992). Newman played his last regular-season game March 17, 1992 — 4 months and 12 days before Feser was born.
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