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.
It was an important weekend of road games for Seattle after it rebounded from consecutive losses with a 2-0 homestand over divisional rivals Tri-City and Spokane to begin the week. Yet, the T-Birds played like two completely different teams.
When the season began, Lipsbergs was a part of a large contingent of players vying for the three overage spots on the T-Birds’ roster. Ultimately, Lipsbergs was forced to leave. Hickman’s injury opened up the opportunity to return, one that he jumped at.
Taran Kozun’s 2.23 goals against average in 32 starts through January 4 is tops among all qualified Western Hockey League netminders. That reliability between the pipes has kept Seattle (20-16-2-3) in nearly every game, giving it hope for an aggressive playoff push in the second half.
The 19-year-old forward was acquired from Prince Albert Thursday by the T-Birds in exchange for a conditional sixth-round selection in either the 2015 or 2016 Bantam Draft.
This was a game the T-Birds needed to have, to avoid falling down in the series two games to zero, but the team again struggled to contain the potent Kelowna offense.
The T-Birds will be taking on an Everett squad that enters the playoffs as the hottest team in the league. After an up-and-down season, Everett finished strong when it mattered most, carrying an 11-0-0-2 record over its final 13 games.
Barzal and Gropp, each playing in the midst of their rookie campaigns for Seattle, are clearly two of the brightest young players Seattle has, and both are playing at a high level currently for head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
One night after struggling on its power play, Seattle (30-15-2-3) rebounded in a big way, Saturday with all four of its goals coming with the man advantage. Shea Theodore was a major part of that all night. The defenseman finished with a goal and three assists for the T-Birds.
Seattle (28-14-2-3) won its sixth straight game behind another excellent game between the pipes for newly acquired goalie Taran Kozun.