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Coach Konowalchuk Owes Progress Of Barzal And Gropp To “Compete Level”

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Anthony (small) Anthony Dion
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(1090 The Fan) — For Seattle’s Ryan Gropp and Mathew Barzal, it never seemed to be a question of “if”, just “when.”

Well, that “when” appears to be now.

Since January 25th when Seattle upended Everett 4-3, each player has produced four goals and five assists. Their great play has also been a boon for their linemate, forward Justin Hickman, who scored five goals in a two game stretch prior to Friday.

Both rookies, Barzal and Gropp, are playing so well currently for Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk, that he seemingly can’t go a game without answering questions about what makes the two of them so good.

After Friday’s most recent 4-0 win over Spokane in which Gropp had two goals and Barzal added a goal and two assists, Konowalchuk pointed to the duo’s willingness to compete as the overriding key.

“When they’re competing, they’re very good hockey players. It’s just a consistent compete for them and they should be able to make plays like that most nights when they’re competing because they are two very talented hockey players,” said Konowalchuk. “Just like every talented player though, you have to compete and they played a heck of a game again tonight.”

A week before, he was lauding their chemistry.

“That’s a line, I think, that should have quite a bit of potential there,” Konowalchuk said after the 2-1 January 31st win over Everett. “They’re two smart hockey players and they have the talent that they can make stuff up.”

For the season now, the 16-year-old Barzal has 10 goals and 32 assists in 43 games. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old Gropp has 15 goals and 19 assists over the same number.

The last two weeks though, have been enlightening as to just how much promise the two players hold.

“I think we’ve been gelling well together lately and I just hope we can keep it going,” said Barzal.

The rest of Seattle is hoping right alongside him.

-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan

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