As things stand currently, Seattle will face bitter rival Portland in the first round, with the Winterhawks holding home ice thanks to an eight-point edge in the U.S. Division standings.
Officials from the state’s WHL teams and the league office said the Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans and Everett Silvertips might have to leave or shut down if state law isn’t changed to consider amateur athletes non-employees
Lipsbergs provided two goals and two assists in Seattle’s third consecutive win, sixth over Portland in nine games this season. And with two assists Friday, Shea Theodore became Seattle’s all-time leading scorer on defense with 188, one more than Craig Channell.
With the playoffs inching closer, the doubleheader presented a good opportunity for Seattle (25-19-3-3) to pick up four points and build some confidence offensively.
Seattle (23-19-3-3) picked up an important victory over Spokane Sunday to claim sole possession of third place in the U.S. division only to surrender a late lead in Kamloops Wednesday. The team travels to Prince George for a pair of weekend games still searching for consistency.
In front of a sold out crowd of 6,208 at the ShoWare Center Saturday, the Thunderbirds held a 30-13 shot advantage deep into the second period, yet trailed on the scoreboard 3-2. Seattle played much of the game in Portland’s zone, peppering Hill with shots, but the young Portland netminder was terrific.
Ryan Gropp and Jerret Smith each had a goal and an assist while goaltender Taran Kozun provided 22 saves to lead the Thunderbirds to their fourth win in five games against their rival.
For Seattle (13-15-2-2), the loss was its first to Portland this season and third in the last four games. The team played a much more energetic, focused and disciplined game after Friday’s 4-0 shutout loss to Tri-City.
Wardley, 20, missed the previous five games after being suspended by the Western Hockey League for a checking from behind penalty against Saskatoon on November 8. It was Wardley’s second suspension of the 2014-15 season.
Seattle (4-3-0-1) entered the first game of a two-night home-and-away double-header against Spokane with six defensemen only to fall to three able-bodied defenders late in the first period after Ethan Bear, Turner Ottenbreit and Jared Hauf all went off with separate ailments.