Late goals from forwards Justin Hickman and Brendan Troock carried Seattle to a statement-making 4-1 win over Portland, Saturday at the ShoWare Center in Kent. Goalie Taran Kozun had 41 saves and Seattle halted one of the greatest regular-season streaks in WHL history.
In the end, Alexander Delnov scored the game-winner in overtime to lift Seattle past Prince Albert 4-3. Mathew Barzal scored two goals, Roberts Lipsbergs added his first goal in nine games, and Shea Theodore contributed two assists to lead the T-Birds.
The problem with the T-Birds lately, as coach Konowalchuk sees it, is the consistency to a man through all four lines. He’s seeing too many turnovers, soft plays and just overall “casual moments.”
Kamloops (13-44-2-3) continued its dominance over Seattle thanks to a Matt Bellerive game-winning shootout goal on a shot that just inched past the goal line. The Blazers forced extra time despite being out shot 16-2 in a third period the teams entered tied 2-2.
At 37-17-2-3 entering Sunday’s tilt with Prince George, Seattle resides in fourth place in the Western Conference with 79 points. The team trails Kelowna (96 points), Portland (89 points) and Victoria (84 points) in the conference standings while holding an 8-point lead on Spokane.
Shea Theodore had three assists and Mathew Barzal provided two to lead the Thunderbirds’ scorers on a night the team won their eighth consecutive home game and earned their first season series win over Tri-City since the 2004-05 campaign.
Since January 25th when Seattle upended Everett 4-3, each player has produced four goals and five assists. Their great play has also been a boon for their linemate, forward Justin Hickman, who scored five goals in a two game stretch prior to Friday.
Ryan Gropp scored two goals, Mathew Barzal remained hot with a goal and two assists and Branden Troock scored his first goal since returning to the T-Birds’ lineup.
Having come from a team in the bottom tier of the WHL Western Conference standings, goaltender Taran Kozun can appreciate the difference between a winner and a loser.
Seattle (32-15-2-3) has now won 10 of its last 11 games. With 20 games remaining, the team has its sight firmly set on winning the U.S. Division and getting home ice for the playoffs.