Nguyen Nets OT Winner as Hawks Top Rockets 6-5

September 24, 2023 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Portland Winterhawks News Release

Portland, Ore. - 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.


• Discuss this story on the Western Hockey League message board...

Western Hockey League Stories from September 24, 2023

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Portland Winterhawks Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central