Mathew Barzal had a goal and five assists Saturday night in front of 5,653 at ShoWare Center to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to an 8-5 victory over the Portland Winterhawks.
The six points is the most scored by a T-Bird in a game this season and the first time Barzal has had six points in a game in his WHL career. Barzal has a goal and 15 assists in his last five games. He has eight goals and 46 assists for 54 points in 29 games this season.
Seattle is now 35-15-3-2 and in first place in the US Division, one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips who have one game in hand on the T-Birds. The T-Birds are three points behind the Prince George Cougars for the top spot in Western Conference with two games in hand on the Cougars.
The T-Birds travel to Kelowna to take on the Rockets on Monday at 2pm. They are back at ShoWare Center for a Directors Mortgage 2-for-Tuesday game on February 14 against the Red Deer Rebels at 7:05pm.
Seattle jumped out to a 1-0 lead 1:39 into the first period. Off the opening faceoff the line of Ryan Gropp, Barzal and Keegan Kolesar kept the Winterhawks hemmed in their zone. Tyler Adams came on the ice for Gropp. Adams took a pass from Barzal in the low left circle, cut through the crease and beat Portland goalie Cole Kehler with a backhand shot past the goalie’s left pad.
Portland (30-23-1-2) tied the game 1-1 at 4:02 of the first on a goal from Jake Gricius. Keoni Texeira had the only assist.
The Winterhawks took a 2-1 lead at 5:33 of the first when Cody Glass beat Seattle goalie Rylan Toth with a backhand shot high. Brendan De Jong had the only assist on the goal.
The T-Birds tied the game 2-2 at 6:38 of the first. Ethan Bear passed the puck up ice to Gropp on the left wing. Gropp carried the puck into the Portland zone and from the bottom of the left circle crossed the puck Barzal in the low slot. Barzal put the puck past Kehler’s left leg for his eighth goal of the season.
The T-Birds took a 3-2 lead at 18:48 of the first on Reece Harsch’s third goal of the season. Barzal had the puck behind the Portland net and as he was bringing it out it rolled off his stick to Kolesar who tapped it back to Harsch at the top of the right circle. Harsch beat Kehler over the right shoulder with a slap shot.
Both teams had 12 shots on goal in the first period.
Alexander True gave the T-Birds a 4-2 lead at 3:27 of the second period on an unassisted shorthanded breakaway. True stole the puck from a Portland defenseman inside the Seattle blue line. True took off towards Kehler with the puck. He came down on Kehler and beat the goalie through the legs for his 18th goal of the season.
The T-Birds extended the lead to 5-2 at 7:47 of the second on a five-on-three power play goal by Kolesar. Barzal passed the puck from center ice to Bear on top of the right circle. Bear skated into the circle and crossed puck to Kolesar who ripped the pass past Kehler for his 16h goal of the season.
Joachim Blichfeld scored at 13:07 and 14:51, on the power play, of the second to cut the T-Birds lead to 5-4 before the second intermission.
Portland outshot Seattle 10-7 in the second period and led 22-19 in shots after two periods.
Bear extended the T-Birds lead to 6-4 at 10:30 of the third period on a power play goal. Barzal passed the puck from the right wing to Bear in the left circle. Bear one-timed the pass and beat Kehler high for his 21st goal of the season. Donovan Neuls had the second assist.
Skyler McKenzie scored at 11:16 for Portland to cut the T-Birds lead back to one goal. Glass had the only assist.
The T-Birds came right back and took a two-goal lead at 11:49 of the second. Bear got the puck to Kolesar at the right point. Kolesar made a diagonal pass to Gropp in the left circle. Gropp wristed the puck over Kehler as the goalie tried to slide over and make the save.
Gropp added an empty-net goal at 18:10 of the third to seal the win. Barzal passed the puck to Gropp in the neutral zone. Gropp gained the red line and fired the puck into the net. Aaron Hyman had the second assist.
Portland outshot Seattle 12-7 in the third period and 34-28 in the game.
Toth made 29 saves to improve his record to 29-15-1-1.
Kehler stopped 20 shots and his record is now 22-16-2-3.