After suffering a heart-breaking series loss to the Rockets in seven games last season in which the team led three games to zero, Seattle rebounded to go 2-1-0-1 in its four regular-season contests against the Rockets. However, both teams earned a total of five standings points from the series.
Scott Eansor scored two goals, including the equalizer which eventually carried Seattle into overtime, Tuesday night. Branden Troock also scored and center Russell Maxwell continued his playoff point streak with an assist. It was the first overtime playoff game for Seattle since it dropped Game 7 to Kelowna last season.
With Sunday’s 3-1 win, the Thunderbirds hold a 2-0 edge in their opening round series against Everett. A start that has to please everyone, including general manager Russ Farwell and head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
Troock now has 22 goals on the season and 31 assists for a total of 53 points, good for third on the team behind defenseman Shea Theodore (69) and Alexander Delnov (56). It’s his hope that the goal spurs his game back to where it was in December when he was lighting the lamp nearly every night.
Ryan Gropp scored two goals, Mathew Barzal remained hot with a goal and two assists and Branden Troock scored his first goal since returning to the T-Birds’ lineup.
Seattle was hoping to close off a great month of December the right way, but got off to a disappointing start against the Blazers, a team that came in dead last in the B.C. division. Prior to Tuesday’s game, the T-Birds were 7-1-1-0 for the month.
While the 10-day hiatus comes at a time the T-Birds are rolling, having won 9 of their last 10 games, it also comes at a time when the team is ailing.
Seattle (21-10-1-3) got off to a fast start thanks to Delnov. The 19-year-old Russian scored after he corralled a loose puck in the slot at 5:06 in the first period. He then assisted on Ryan Gropp’s goal which gave the T-Birds a 2-0 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the period.
The win was also Seattle’s (20-9-1-3) first in regulation over the Winterhawks this season. Troock had two goals and an assist, and Danny Mumaugh improved to 10-5 thanks to 33 saves on 35 shots. In the sixth match-up between the two squads this season, each team was without at least one leading scorer.
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. With key contributors up and down the lineup, Seattle seems to have found the consistency it had been searching for.