(1090 The Fan) — One night after struggling on its power play, the Seattle Thunderbirds started hot, converted on the power play early and held on to defeat the Vancouver Giants 5-3 at the ShoWare Center.
In their shootout loss to Tri-City on Friday, the Thunderbirds finished 0-for-5 on the power play. Against the Giants, Saturday, the team wasted no time getting that fixed, scoring on its first two chances to take a 3-1 lead after the first period.
Thunderbirds head coach Steve Konowalchuk thought the success on the power play was key.
“It was good,” said Konowalchuk of his team’s effort on the power play Saturday. “Good to have them bounce back after a game we let go when it looked like the power play could have been a deciding factor. It was good to see them bear down there today.”
With the victory, Seattle improved to 10-3-0-2 and with Spokane’s loss to Portland, the Thunderbirds fell into a tie for second in the U.S. Division with 22 points.
Seth Swenson scored two goals for the T-Birds including one late into an empty net. Roberts Lipsbergs added two points including his team-leading 11th goal of the season and rookie Keegan Kolesar also had two points, including his first career WHL goal. Seattle goaltender Justin Myles stopped 41 of 44 shots faced.
The busy first period saw each squad spend a considerable amount of time in the penalty box and it really cost the Giants. Seattle converted on both of its power plays and it didn’t take them long in either situation, each coming just eight seconds in. The first goal came 2:01 in when Keegan Kolesar, who was in good position in front of the net, tapped in a rebound from Giants goalie Peyton Lee.
Defenseman Shea Theodore converted on the second power play with a nice wrister from the point on the left wing. Sandwiched in the middle was a Seth Swenson goal at the 5:46 mark, as Seattle closed the first period with a 3-1 lead despite being out shot 15-11 by the Giants.
Lipsbergs scored just 3:21 into the second period to give Seattle a 4-1 lead and it looked like the team set it on cruise control for the next 20 minutes. Vancouver (3-9-1-1) was able to get a couple of power-play goals from its leading scorer, forward Carter Popoff, to make it a 4-3 hockey game barely four minutes into the third period.
Seattle finished strong, though, despite being down a few skaters (the team lost Branden Troock to an undisclosed injury late in the second period and didn’t dress five others including newcomer Sam Mckechnie) to secure the two points. Vancouver finished with a 44-27 shots-on-goal edge.
Seattle forward Seth Swenson talked about the importance of coming through with a win after dropping a close game the night before,
“That’s huge, I mean those losses are going to happen throughout the year,” Swenson said referring to the team’s to the Tri-City shootout loss. “It’s always nice to have an answer after that instead of dwelling on it.”
“Good start, that’s the bottom line. You can win a lot of hockey games with a good start,” Konowalchuk said. “I thought in the third period when they made it 4-3 we did get playing again which is a good sign…A good start, a pretty bad in-between and a good ending.”
1. SEA Keegan Kolesar 1 (Henry, Smith), 2:01 PP
2. SEA Seth Swenson 6 (Kolesar), 5:46
3. VAN Travis McEvoy 2 (Sward, Eder), 15:35
4. SEA Shea Theodore 6 (Barzal, Bear), 18:38 PP
5. SEA Roberts Lipsbergs 11 (Delnov, Hauf), 3:21
6. VAN Carter Popoff 2 (Houck, Thrower), 5:27 PP
7. VAN Carter Popoff 3 (Thrower, Houck), 3:43 PP
8. SEA Seth Swenson 7 (Lipsbergs, Theodore), 19:08 empty net
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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