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.
As one of the older players on the team, Theodore entered his first World Junior experience with an eye on a large role leading the team’s blue line and power-play unit.
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.
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.
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.
After his poor rookie campaign, there was almost zero buzz surrounding the forward from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Two short months have changed that. The word is out, and it would be more surprising now if Kolesar weren’t a high-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Friday’s victory came on the heels of a dominant 4-1 win over Spokane Sunday when the team opened a 2-0 lead. Suddenly, Seattle (12-12-2-2) has won three of its last four after losing five of six.
Theodore, 19, has played in seven games since returning last month. He’s expected back in the lineup this weekend after missing the past two games with the flu. His return brings scoring stability and leadership in an inexperienced Thunderbirds squad in need.