Nguyen’s OT heroics lift Hawks to 6-5 win in Kelowna
Marcus Nguyen nabbed the OT winner, Nick Johnson scored twice and Luke Brunen made 25 saves for his first WHL win as the Hawks took a 6-5 win in Kelowna.
Game #2: Portland (6) at Kelowna (5) OT
SOG: POR (36) – KEL (30)
PP: POR (1/6) – KEL (2/5)
Saves: Brunen (25/30) – Pilon (30/36)
- KEL – 7:29 – First Period – Tij Iginla (1)
- POR – 8:18 – First Period – Jack O’Brien (2) from James Stefan and Gabe Klassen
- POR – 9:50 – First Period – James Stefan (2) from Gabe Klassen
- KEL – 10:31 – First Period – Turner McMillen (1) from Marek Rocak and Ethan Mittelsteadt
- POR – 13:47 – First Period – Nick Johnson (1) from Luke Schelter and Ryder Thompson
- POR – 16:21 – First Period – Gabe Klassen (2) from Diego Buttazzoni and Ryder Thompson
- KEL – 3:06 – Second Period – Ethan Neutens (1) from Turner McMillen and Marek Rocak
- KEL – 5:28 – Second Period – Turner McMillen (2) from Michael Cicek from Ethan Neutens
- KEL – 12:10 – Third Period – Trae Johnson (1) from Kayden Longley
- POR – 14:25 – Third Period – Nick Johnson (2) from Luke Schelter and Rhett Ravndahl
- POR – 1:42 – Overtime – Marcus Nguyen (2) from Luke Brunen
Marcus Nguyen scored a breakaway beauty 1:42 into overtime on a pass from rookie goaltender Luke Brunen to push the Winterhawks to a 6-5 victory over the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on Saturday.
As a stretch pass slipped just out of reach of Kelowna’s Tij Iginla, Brunen capped off his first WHL start with a sterling assist off the glass to Nguyen, who skated in alone and slipped a shot through the legs of Jake Pilon for Portland’s first victory of the 2023-24 season. Nguyen’s goal was his second in as many games to start the year and fifth career game-winner.
Iginla – making his Rockets debut after an offseason trade from Seattle – kicked off the scoring back at 7:29 of the first period after forcing a turnover at the Portland blue line. Kicking off a back-and-forth flurry, Jack O’Brien quickly responded for the Hawks as he unleashed a one-time blast from the right circle at 8:18, and James Stefan gave the Hawks their first lead at 9:50 with his second shorthanded goal of the weekend. The pendulum swung to the Rockets soon after on Turner McMillen’s first of two on the night, but again Portland had a response – first from Nick Johnson with a five-hole laser from the high slot, then from Gabe Klassen in the crease as he tapped home a Diego Buttazzoni rebound as the Hawks took a 4-2 lead through 20 minutes.
Despite the Hawks’ early lead, Kelowna grabbed momentum in the second and third periods as Ethan Neutens and Trae Johnson sandwiched McMillen’s second of the game to take a 5-4 lead midway through the third. But after giving up a third-period comeback on Friday, the Winterhawks instead mustered their own comeback on Saturday as Johnson found twine at 14:25 to force overtime.
Brunen finished with 25 saves on 30 shots to pick up the win in his first WHL start, while Pilon turned aside 30 shots in Kelowna’s loss.
The Winterhawks are back in action in Kent, Wash. next Saturday, September 30, against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
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