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.
Seattle Thunderbirds second-year forward Mathew Barzal made his return to the ice Friday at Tri-City after missing more than two months after fracturing his knee cap during a practice in early November.
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.
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.
Shortly after surrendering three goals and the lead in the second period, the T-Birds responded by out-shooting Spokane 14-3 in the third period to force overtime.
Theodore now has five points in two games since joining the T-Birds Thursday, tying him with Thomas Hickey for second place on the Thunderbirds all-time defensive scoring list with 177 points.
Despite being without 40 percent of its scoring at one point, Seattle went 5-1 in the first six games out of the holiday break to climb into the sixth position in the Western Conference standings.
Rookies Donovan Neuls and Nolan Volcan provided the goals and goaltender Taran Kozun posted 24 saves to lift the Thunderbirds to their sixth consecutive win Friday.
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.