Barzal, 16, has scored six goals and delivered 25 assists in 32 games for fifth place Seattle (21-10-1-3). His 25 assists trail only defenseman Shea Theodore (27) for the team lead and his 31 points are fourth most amongst T-Birds skaters.
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.
Spencer, 17, made his debut with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Friday night as the team edged Portland 3-2. It was the forward’s first game since signing November 29th out of Minnesota.
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.