Tips Slip Past T-Birds 1-0

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(ISN) – KENT, September 20, 2014 – The Everett Silvertips defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds Saturday night, coming away with a shutout in the 1-0 victory. The loss put Seattle’s record at 1-1-0-0 after Friday night’s win over Portland. Everett is now 1-0-0-0.

Starting in goal for Seattle was Taran Kozun, who is now 1-1-0-0 after stopping 18 of 19 shots. 16-year-old Carter Hart made his season debut in net for Everett and stopped all 26 shots, getting his first win and first shutout of the season.

The first shots went to Seattle, but Everett was able to score the first goal just 1:53 into the game. Noah Juulsen’s shot from the point was tipped in traffic by Graham Millar, who got the puck past Kozun to make it 1-0. Patrick Bajkov had the secondary assist.

Everett took the game’s first penalty at 7:34, tripping up Jerret Smith behind the goal and giving Seattle a power play. Ethan Bear narrowly missed a goal when a quick backhand pass in the crease from Ryan Gropp went through the defenseman’s skates. It was the best chance of the man advantage for Seattle.

The visitors had a power play later in the period, coming off a slashing call. Their first shot ricocheted and hit Jared Hauf in the helmet, though thankfully the defenseman was none the worse for wear and returned to the game. It was one of three shots for Everett on the power play, all of which were deflected away from the net by defenders, leaving the score at 1-0.

Sam McKechnie was stopped on a breakaway chance with two and a half minutes left in the period. McKechnie knocked the puck lose at the top of the offensive zone, where Florian Baltram collected it and fed it back to McKechnie. The 19-year-old was stonewalled by Hart at point-blank range, however, protecting Everett’s one-goal lead.

Ryan Gropp had a golden chance at 19:00 as well, grabbing the puck out of a brief scrum in front of the net and blistering a shot at Hart. Gropp’s attempt went a bit wide and served as the start of Seattle’s best offensive pressure of the period.

The first period came to a close soon thereafter, with shot totals tied at 11 each. The score remained 1-0 in Everett’s favor. Faceoffs were 9-7 Everett.

The Silvertips threatened three minutes into the second, getting a shot off from deep within the faceoff circle that slid past Kozun and to the boards. From there, Mathew Barzal took over, getting the puck on the attack for Seattle and deking all the way to the net, where his shot from inches away from the post was stopped by Hart.

A giveaway by Everett gave the T-Birds another great chance. Scott Eansor took the puck after a bad pass in front of their net by the Silvertips. Eansor got the shot off, with the rebound just missing a T-Bird stick on its way away from danger.

Seattle was penalized at 7:25, putting them down a man. While the Silvertips were able to control the puck and even get a few chances, the home team stood tall. Kozun stopped every shot thrown his way and, combined with some timely clearances, was enough to keep the deficit at one goal.

Barzal drew a penalty not long after the game returned to even strength to give Seattle its second power play. The visitors bookended the T-Birds advantage with brief attacks of their own, holding Seattle to one shot on goal.

Barzal was stopped on a breakaway at 14:30. The centerman intercepted a clearance, skating in with the defense on his heels. Once again, Hart stopped him at the post. Unfortunately, the T-Birds took a penalty seconds later. Even down a man, Eansor was able to get a breakaway, beating Hart with a shot over the glove that bounced off the crossbar. It was the best opportunity of Everett’s power play as the visitors were held in check.

The teams continued to trade penalties, this time resulting in Seattle playing a man up. Gropp ripped a one-timer from the slot that Hart was able to glove with a minute remaining in the power play. Gropp followed that up with another great shot after the faceoff. The winger grabbed a loose puck in between the faceoff dots, though he was once again stopped by Hart. The T-Birds had two more shots, both rockets from the point by Bear and Adam Henry, respectively, before Hart was able to cover again. A third Gropp shot was stopped, this time trickling through Hart’s pads and away to the boards.

Nolan Volcan and Barzal had a 2-on-1 breakaway as the period expired, but were unfortunately unable to get a shot off before the horn. Shots in the second ended at 9-6 Seattle, while faceoffs were 10-9 Everett.

Shots were at a premium to begin the third. Seattle recorded the period’s first shot at 1:59 on the rush. Everett earned a power play a minute later, their fourth of the game. The T-Birds cleared the puck early and often and even earned an icing all within the first minute of the penalty kill. This effort kept Everett from creating much of anything, leaving the visitors without a shot in the period’s first five minutes.

A big hit at the benches by Jared Hauf eeked some energy out of Seattle, though the counterattack by the Silvertips forced Kozun to make a kick save. Donovan Neuls answered with a close range rocket which was again fought off. Extended pressure followed for the T-Birds, who had several shots go wide as they looked for the tying goal.

Baltram was inches away from his first WHL goal at 14:00. A wraparound attempt bounced around in front of the net and made its way through the scrum to Baltram on the other side. The puck refused to settle down, however, giving Hart enough time to slide over and keep the lead.

Seattle was left on the defensive at 14:46 with their second penalty of the period, putting them on the penalty kill. Everett controlled the puck the entirety of the two minutes, eating up valuable time despite being unable to get a shot off.

The T-Birds did well to put the pressure on once the teams were back at even strength. Kozun left his net with 1:57 left in the game. Bear broke up an empty net chance, leaving Seattle a minute to tie the game. The Silvertips held strong, keeping the shutout and leaving with a 1-0 win.

Shots in the third period were 6-2 Seattle, who won five of 14 faceoffs.

The T-Birds are back in action on Friday at the Tri-City Americans. The next home game for Seattle will be October 4, when the T-Birds take on the Kelowna Rockets at 7:05 pm.

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