KENNEWICK — The Portland Winterhawks managed only one shot in overtime on Friday night.
That shot was all they needed to grab the early lead in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference finals.
Marcel Noebels scored the winner 7:52 into overtime to beat the Tri-City Americans 5-4 in the first game of the best-of-7 series as 3,753 fans watch at the Toyota Center.
Game 2 is today at Kennewick. The series shifts to Portland on Wednesday and Thursday for games in the Rose Garden.
The winning goal was scored after Noebels came off the Portland bench, received a cross-ice pass from Sven Bartschi, and beat Americans’ goalie Ty Rimmer from the face-off circle.
“Bartschi just made an incredible back-hand pass,” Noebels said. “I saw my chance to go high on Rimmer and I shot it and it went in.”
The goal came moments after the Winterhawks killed off an Americans’ power play, an advantage that helped Tri-City get the first seven shots on goal in overtime. The penalty was called against Portland goalie Mac Carruth for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid behind the goal line.
“I went for the no-look pass and got a little bit cocky with it,” Carruth said. “The guys did a good job killing (the penalty).”
Carruth had a big night, stopping 43 shots to earn the win.
Bartschi had a goal and two assists on Friday. Brendan Leipsic, Joe Morrow and Cam Reid also scored for Portland.
Reid also saved the game for the Winterhawks by poking away the puck from an open net early in overtime.
Tri-City was 3 for 5 on the power play. Patrick Holland had a hand in all three power-play goals, scoring two of them and assisting on the other. Brendan Shinnimin and Mitch Topping also scored for the Americans, with Topping’s goal at 15:09 of the third period forcing the overtime.
This was the first playoff overtime game this season for the Winterhawks. The Americans four losses this playoff season have all come in overtime.