(1090 The Fan) — Alexander Delnov’s five point effort, including two goals, carried Seattle to a dominant 6-2 win over Saskatoon, Friday night. It was just the second regulation win for Seattle (14-9-1-3) in its last 11 games.
Delnov scored two second period goals to give the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead and the team subsequently never looked back from that point forward. Playing alongside Delnov on the T-Birds’ third line, Ryan Gropp (goal and two assists) and Branden Troock (goal) also shined.
Saskatoon (10-15-1-2), meanwhile, entered with the Western Hockey League’s top-rated power play at 29.5 percent and was kicking off a five-game road trip through the U.S. Division. Seattle, which had made its penalty kill a focal point in practice the past couple of weeks, fared OK Friday, holding the Blades to 2-for-5.
“There were some things in the first period I was a little upset with,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “(But) good response. The guys came out in the second and third period wanting to take that game over.
“It was a strong game for (Delnov). I thought he was digging in and competing with the puck…when he does that then he’ll get his opportunities because he’s got the skill, he just has to be strong on the puck.”
In the pivotal second period, Delnov continued his recent strong play — coming off the overtime game-winner against Portland last weekend — with consecutive power-play goals within a 7-minute span. His second goal came after the T-Birds killed a 5-on-3 Saskatoon advantage for nearly 1:30.
The 19-year-old Russian then began to get his teammates involved. With 1:33 remaining in the second period, Delnov found Gropp in the slot to put Seattle ahead 3-1. Then, in the third period, he found Troock and Ethan Bear as the Thunderbirds ran their lead to 5-2. Sam McKechnie added a sixth goal at the 12:01 mark after forcing a turnover deep in the Blades’ zone and beating Blades goalie Alex Moodie.
With the rest of the team off through Thanksgiving, Delnov traveled up to Red Deer, Alberta to play for Team Russia in Game 5 of its Subway Series versus the CHL. Delnov provided an assist on the game-winning goal for Russia.
When asked whether that contribution may have carried over for Delnov, Konowalchuk thought it definitely didn’t hurt.
“You go there, you play, it can build some confidence and I think he had a pretty strong game (for Team Russia),” said Konowalchuk. “No doubt about it, I think he started to build it a little bit before he left but…(he) definitely came back with a lot of confidence.”
The five points from Delnov was a new Seattle high for the season, surpassing the four Mathew Barzal and Roberts Lipsbergs had posted in separate games earlier in the season. It was also the first five-point effort by a T-Bird since February of 2009 when Parab Rai and Greg Scott accomplished the feat in the same game.
On the other end of the ice, it was a tough night for Moodie, the victim of six goals on 28 shots faced.
Seattle also did a good job on the Blades’ Nikita Scherbak, who entered with 36 points to lead all WHL rookies in scoring, five more points than the next closest. Scherbak finished with one assist, coming on the Blades’ late power-play goal in the second period by Matt Revel, which cut the T-Birds’ lead to 3-2.
That would be the closest Saskatoon would come. At 8:25 in the third period, Troock got the Seattle offense rolling again with one of the better individual efforts of the night. With the T-Birds on the power play, Troock received the puck near the blue line, faked a slap shot, drifted to his right and fired a slapper top shelf past Moodie.
Saskatoon opened up the scoring 18:09 into the first period when it scored on its first power play of the game. Blades center Chase Clayton rifled a one-timer past Justin Myles from the right point to give the team a 1-0 lead.
Myles got his second consecutive start in net for Seattle and came up with 26 saves to up his record to 8-4.
1. SAS Chase Clayton 2 (Coghlan), 18:09 (PP)
2. SEA Alexander Delnov 11 (Gropp, Smith), 4:37 (PP)
3. SEA Alexander Delnov 12 (Henry, Eansor), 11:28 (PP)
4. SEA Ryan Gropp 3 (Delnov, Wardley), 18:27
5. SAS Matt Revel 7 (Burns, Scherbak), 19:33 (PP)
6. SEA Branden Troock 8 (Delnov), 8:25
7. SEA Ethan Bear 2 (Delnov, Gropp), 10:23 (PP)
8. SEA Sam McKechnie 3, 12:01
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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