T-Birds colonize Americans

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SeattleThunderbirds

February 14, 2014, KENT (ISN) – The Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans 4-3 Friday night at the ShoWare Center in Kent. The win ran Seattle’s record to 36-17-2-3, good for fourth in the Western Conference and eight points ahead of fifth-place Spokane. Tri-City is now 27-25-3-3 and stands at eighth in the West.

Seattle’s Taran Kozun started in goal, stopping 37 of 40 to get his 15th win this year. Eric Comrie was in net for the Americans, and is now 24-20-3-3 after making 21 saves tonight.

Tri-City had the only early chance in a game that was riddled with stoppages for the first two minutes. The Americans got their first power play right at the two-minute mark. Clearances by Justin Hickman and Jaimen Yakubowski, coupled with a shorthanded shot by Jerret Smith, left Tri-City without a shot on goal until the last 15 seconds of their man advantage.

Comrie escaped disaster seven minutes into the game. The goalie played the puck behind the net onto the stick of Seattle’s Sam McKechnie, who threw it in front before Comrie could back into the crease. Unfortunately, no T-Bird could knock it home in time, as the Americans’ defense reacted quickly.

Seattle’s next real attack came with 9:30 remaining in a period that had been defined by stoppages, with 11 in the first 10 minutes. Mathew Barzal ripped a shot from the slot that was fought off by Comrie. The puck made its way back out to Jared Hauf at the blue line, who had another shot before Comrie was able to fall on the puck.

The first period saw 15 shots by Tri-City and seven by Seattle, while faceoff wins were tied 10-10.

A furious pace in the second period sent bodies flying and plenty of chances despite no shots on goal being recorded in the first four minutes. Seattle took its second penalty at 4:06, giving Tri-City a power play. The only shot in the first 1:45 belonged to the T-Birds, who also drew their first power play just after their successful kill.

Fifty seconds into the man advantage, the T-Birds took the lead. Barzal fed Hickman, who was waiting to the side of the goal. The captain skated around Comrie and sent it home after several whacks while Comrie attempted to cover. The goal was Hickman’s 19th of the season. The assists went to Barzal and Shea Theodore.

The added energy of the first goal shined through in Seattle’s game. The puck remained in the offensive end for the better part of three minutes, with Tri-City only recording one shot during that time. The Americans were able to get a push at 12:55, resulting in a power play. Once again, Seattle’s penalty kill did their job admirably, allowing no shots in the first 1:30.

A 3-on-1 break following the successful penalty kill gave Seattle a 2-0 lead. Barzal backhanded a pass to Keegan Kolesar, who had enough space to skate to the faceoff dot and rip a shot past Comrie at 15:24. Barzal and Theodore had the assists, giving each two on the night.

Just before the period’s expiration, Roberts Lipsbergs drew a penalty to give Seattle their second man advantage of the period and of the game. Lipsbergs was moved up to play with Barzal and Hickman in this game as coach Steve Konowalchuk wanted to get the Latvian “a little bit more involved [with] Barzal, who’s a good passer.” With 40 seconds of power-play time before intermission, the T-Birds’ advantage carried over into the third.

Shots were 7-6 Seattle in the second period. Faceoffs favored Tri-City 10-7.

The power play didn’t last long in the third. Seattle took a penalty 14 seconds in, making it 4-on-4 for just over a minute. For the second time, the T-Birds held the Americans without a shot on goal during their ensuing power play, making it no goals in four chances for Tri-City.

Comrie kept the score where it was with 14 minutes left thanks to a series of strong saves. McKechnie had the initial shot and the T-Birds were able to get multiple rebound chances as Comrie was forced to lay out across the right side of the crease, eventually covering the puck. A scrum ensued, ending with offsetting penalties.

The home team had another big opportunity two faceoffs later when Branden Troock found Smith deep in the slot. Comrie was able to track the puck without traffic in front, however, catching it calmly. Tri-City responded with a rush of their own that left Kozun sprawling but successful in his attempt to keep the puck out.

The fast pace only increased from there. A 1-on-1 break for the Americans was stopped when Adam Henry skated across in time to knock the opposition off the puck. A two-line outlet pass put Troock on the doorstep alone, but Comrie stood tall and turned him aside. Hickman then rang the puck off the post on the ensuing shot.

All that pressure did pay dividends later in the play with Seattle’s third goal. A shot from the point by Ethan Bear at 8:00 made its way through traffic and past Comrie. It was the 16-year-old’s sixth goal of the year and came on assists from Henry and Troock.

Mayhem wasn’t far behind the home team’s third goal. A Kozun cover up ended with disagreements all around, with a line brawl breaking out behind the goal. All five forwards on each team were sent to the box, ending with 84 penalty minutes and a Seattle power play. Two game misconducts forced the T-Birds to “play the heck out of some of our D” with only four available defensemen. Konowalchuk said that the team needed to “play smart” after losing so many players to penalties.

The visitors struck shorthanded, scoring their first goal at 9:25. Lucas Nickles had the unassisted goal for Tri-City, making the score 3-1. The rest of Seattle’s power play was uneventful, leaving the lead at two with seven minutes left.

More chippiness resulted in another fight, the fifth of the period, and a Tri-City power play, the fifth of the game. The Americans struck just 27 seconds into this power play, cutting the deficit to one. Parker Bowles had the goal at 13:53, with Beau McCue and Jessey Astles getting the assists.

A minute later, the visitors found themselves back on the power play. With 40 seconds left in the advantage, Tri-City pulled their goalie, making it 6-on-4. Seattle killed it, making it only a one-man advantage for the Americans.

The tying goal came just after the penalty’s expiration, making it 3-3 with 2:45 left in the game. McCue pocked the puck through Kozun’s pads, giving Nickles and Brian Williams the assists. Konowalchuk credited “good character guys” on the roster with keeping the team’s confidence about them after giving up the lead and was glad the team “played with emotion.”

Another penalty, this time on the visitors, came quickly. Seattle’s fourth power play of the game took the ice at 17:26. No scoring meant that the game was even strength for the last 30 seconds.

Russell Maxwell made his mark with 25.6 left to make it 4-3 just as the period was about to end. Troock and Maxwell broke up the ice on a 2-on-2, with Troock beating his defenseman and shooting it off Comrie’s pads. Maxwell was in the right place at the right time as Troock’s rebound bounced onto his stick. The goal was Maxwell’s second as a T-Bird and sealed the victory.

Shots in the third period were 19-11 Tri-City and faceoffs were 15-10 in Seattle’s favor.

The T-Birds are right back at it tomorrow night, taking on the Silvertips in Everett at 7:05 pm. After that, Seattle hosts the Prince George Cougars on Sunday at 5:05 pm at the ShoWare Center.

T-Birds single game tickets for the 2013-14 season are available online at the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare Center box office. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday game days at 10 a.m. and Sunday game days at noon.

T-Birds season tickets are currently on sale. Season tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.

SCORING SUMMARY

First period – No scoring. Penalties – Henry, Seattle (high-sticking), 1:56. Kolesar, Seattle (major-fighting), 12:14. Gelinas, Tri-City (major-fighting), 12:14.

Second period – 1, Seattle, Hickman 19 (Barzal, Theodore), 7:01 (pp). 2, Seattle, Kolesar 2 (Barzal, Theodore), 15:24. Penalties – Kolesar, Seattle (tripping), 4:06. Plutnar, Tri-City (hooking), 6:11. Bear, Seattle (high-sticking), 12:55. Gutierrez, Tri-City (tripping), 19:17.

Third period – 3, Seattle, Bear 6 (Henry, Troock), 8:00. 4, Tri-City, Nickles 15 (unassisted), 9:25 (sh). 5, Tri-City, Bowles 6 (McCue, Astles), 13:53 (pp). 6, Tri-City, McCue 18 (Nickles, Williams), 17:15. 7, Seattle, Maxwell 12 (Troock, Theodore), 19:34. Penalties – Hickman, Seattle (interference), :14. Thrower, Tri-City (roughing), 6:03. Yakubowski, Seattle (slashing), 6:03. Yakubowski, Seattle (major-fighting), 8:33. McKechnie, Seattle (roughing), 8:33. Maxwell, Seattle (double minor-roughing), 8:33. Wardley, Seattle (major-fighting), 8:33. Wardley, Seattle (game misconduct), 8:33. Hauf, Seattle (major-fighting), 8:33. Hauf, Seattle (game misconduct), 8:33. Wotherspoon, Tri-City (major-fighting), 8:33. McAndrews, Tri-City (cross-checking), 8:33. McAndrews, Tri-City (major-fighting), 8:33. McAndrews, Tri-City (game misconduct), 8:33. Gutierrez, Tri-City (roughing), 8:33. Plutnar, Tri-City (double minor-roughing), 8:33. Gelinas, Tri-City (major-fighting), 8:33. Gelinas, Tri-City (game misconduct), 8:33. Hickman, Seattle (instigator), 13:25. Hickman, Seattle (major-fighting), 13:25. Hickman, Seattle (10-minute misconduct), 13:25. Thrower, Tri-City (major-fighting), 13:25. Troock, Seattle (high-sticking), 14:56. Vickerman, Tri-City (tripping), 17:26.

Shots on goal – Seattle 7-7-11 25, Tri-City 15-6-19 40. Goalies – Seattle, Kozun 40 shots-37 saves (15-21-2-1); Tri-City, Comrie 25-21 (24-20-3-3). Power plays – Seattle 1-4; Tri-City 1-6. A – 3,482. Referees – Jason Nissen, Brett Iverson. Linesmen – Kevin Boris, Nathan Van Oosten.

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