With A Long Ways Still To Go, Seattle Looks Primed For A Strong Winter Push
(1090 The Fan) —Suddenly the Thunderbirds are red hot.
Winners of four in a row, including key games against U.S. Division rivals Portland and Spokane, the T-Birds have put a rough start to the month of November behind them, and enter December looking like a much better squad.
Over that four game stretch, Seattle has scored 22 goals while yielding 10. It is that 5.5 goals-per-game average that has Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk excited about his team’s potential.
“I like the way they are playing,” Konowalchuk said. “The Mckechnie-Eansor-Yakubowski line did their thing against the top line (of Saskatoon), being hard to play against and buzzing around setting the tone. You’ve got two other lines that can go out there and score, and a fourth line that can chip in as well. It can be really hard to play against.”
The Thunderbirds now sit sixth in the WHL Western Conference standings with 36 points, nine behind the West leader Portland. They continue three consecutive showdowns with Spokane, Friday, their second over on the eastern edge of the state, after a 5-1 win there Sunday night.
Could Seattle finally be finding the consistency that has eluded it over the course of the season’s first two months?
Well, the players are starting to see it.
“All of our lines are contributing,” Thunderbirds forward Branden Troock said. “We have a really good shutdown line and all three of our other lines are contributing offensively, so we have balance throughout our lineup and any line can chip in.”
Chief among the contributors has been third line forward Alexander Delnov, who had a 5-point effort versus Saskatoon last Friday. Delnov, 19, is riding a 3-game goal streak with eight total points over those three contests.
His linemate Troock as well as Ryan Gropp, rookie forward Mathew Barzal and leading goal-scorer Roberts Lipsbergs have also provided stellar offensive production for the T-Birds. Troock in particular, has 10 points over the team’s last eight games, including five goals.
“We went through a bit of a rough patch there a couple of weeks ago,” Barzal said. “It seems like we are doing well now and hopefully we can keep it going from here.”
“There’s a long road ahead, but the more you win,” said Konowalchuk, “you start believing in yourself more and more.”
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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