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.
Delnov picked up right where he left off Friday night, scoring just 2:11 into the first period and Roberts Lipsbergs followed just 38 seconds later to put the T-Birds quickly ahead 2-0. Facing a goalie on a run like Polivka had been on, Seattle made sure not to let him settle in.
Gropp, 17, signed on October 15th after being selected sixth overall in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. After his three point game Friday night, Gropp has three goals and three assists in 14 appearances in his rookie season. The rookie from Kamloops, British Columbia said he’s finally starting to feel comfortable in the WHL.
Delnov scored two second period goals to give the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead and the team never looked back from that point forward. Playing alongside Delnov on the T-Birds’ third line, Branden Troock (goal) and Ryan Gropp (goal and two assists) also had good games.
It was a hard-fought, close battle all night between two of the top Western Conference squads coming in, Kelowna taking the 50-46 shots-on-goal edge. Kelowna entered with the best winning percentage and riding an 8-game winning streak.
Forwards Mathew Barzal and Keegan Kolesar join defenseman Ethan Bear, all currently on the T-Birds roster, as selections for the week-long tournament held in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia from December 29-January 4th, 2014.
Wardley received the suspension for charging prior to last Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Everett. He is scheduled to return for Seattle on Friday, November 15th against Victoria.
An attendance of 3,533 watched helplessly as the Thunderbirds (8-3-0-1) squandered a late two-goal lead to the Cougars, which left the team and head coach Steve Konowalchuk lamenting missed opportunities and the point it lost Friday night.
With the three consecutive wins, division-leading Seattle stands 3-2 with a game remaining against Kelowna (5-0-0-1) on its six-game road trip. Kelowna currently sits atop the B.C. Divison and trails only the Thunderbirds in the Western Conference with its 11 points.
Roberts Lipsbergs had a hat trick and Alexander Delnov had two goals to pace the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 6-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes Saturday.