(ISN) – KENT, – The Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Everett Silvertips 7-0 Saturday night at ShoWare Center. The game was the culmination of Seattle’s annual Hockey Challenge, benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington and Alaska. Seattle’s win moved them to 31-21-3-4 this season and kept them six points back from Portland for second in the U.S. Division. Everett falls to 35-18-3-4.
Taran Kozun made the start in net for Seattle. His 15 saves were enough to earn him the shutout victory. In goal for Everett was Austin Lotz, who stopped 21 of 28 en route to his 13th loss of the season.
An up-and-down pace netted no shots on goal for the game’s first five minutes. Everett broke that drought with a shot on a power play that was easily steered aside by Kozun. That power play, along with the Seattle man advantage immediately following it, went scoreless.
Keegan Kolesar scored the game’s first goal at 8:23. Evan Wardley forced the turnover in the defensive zone with physical play along the boards, allowing Scott Eansor to gain control and pass to Ryan Gropp flying up the wing. Gropp deked around an Everett defender and worked a pass past another diving Silvertip to find Kolesar all alone at the edge of the crease. It was Kolesar’s 18th goal of the season, coming from Gropp and Eansor at 8:23.
Everett led 6-4 in shots after one period of play.
Eansor scored as he left the penalty box early in the third period, making it 2-0. Eansor received a stretch pass and beat back the Everett defense. Eansor’s shot sneaked under Lotz’s pads as Eansor was pushed away from the goal. It was Eansor’s 11th goal of the year, coming from Mathew Barzal and Roberts Lipsbergs.
Lipsbergs added a goal of his own at 2:36. Cory Millette tried to tip in a point shot from Ethan Bear but couldn’t quite get it past Lotz. The puck rebounded off the boards and around to Lipsbergs, who circled near the faceoff dot and fired into the back corner of the net for his eighth goal. Millette and Bear had the assists.
The goals continued to flow for Seattle, with Bear adding the team’s fourth at 4:54. Bear’s point shot from the middle of the blue line went through traffic and past Lotz’s pads. Lipsbergs had the primary assist, giving him three points in the period, while Barzal added the secondary, giving him six assists on Seattle’s last eight goals.
Millette scored at 14:08 from inches outside the crease. Evan Wardley took a shot from just inside the blue line that was tipped by Barzal. The tip went wide but ended up right on Millette’s stick. Millette had a wide-open net to shoot at and didn’t disappoint. The goal was Millette’s ninth as a T-Bird, giving him 18 points in 20 games since being acquired at the trade deadline.
Nolan Volcan came close to giving Seattle their fifth goal of the period with three minutes remaining. Volcan was skating into the slot as a rebound came out to him. The winger’s shot bounced oddly thanks to defensive pressure and got past Lotz, where it bounced softly off the post and against Lotz’s skate. Lotz was able to react in time to kick it away from the crease and keep the game at 5-0 Seattle.
The T-Birds outshot the Silvertips 17-5 in the second period.
Gropp added a sixth goal for the T-Birds at 15:17. Gropp was streaking to the far side of the net when Shea Theodore’s pass found him in stride. Lotz was unable to get across the crease, giving Gropp an open net for his 23rd goal of the season. Theodore and Eansor had the assists.
Lipsbergs’ second goal of the night came at 16:32, making it 7-0 Seattle. The Latvian winger collected the puck at the blue line and worked his way past Everett’s defenders for the goal, his second of the night. Turner Ottenbreit had the only assist.
Shots in the final frame were 7-4 Seattle.
The T-Birds are back in action at home on Tuesday when they host the Calgary Flames at 7:05 pm. After that, Seattle will host the Prince George Cougars on Friday at 7:35 pm.