KENT, March 22, 2014 - The Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Everett Silvertips 2-1 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. The teams will meet next in Everett Sunday afternoon at 4 pm before travelling back to Seattle for game three on Tuesday at 7:05 pm. "It's the playoffs now and it's a whole new season," said captain Justin Hickman, who was happy to see his team take the 1-0 series lead.

 

Taran Kozun stopped 38 of 39 shots in the game and got the win, his first in the playoffs. Austin Lotz was in goal for Everett and stopped 20 of 22 shots.

 

The Thunderbirds Community Sports Foundation owes a big thank you to fans at Game 1 that took part in the 50/50 raffle. The Foundation donated its share of the 50/50 at Game 1, $3,391.50, to the Tim Bozon Trust. Tim, a member of the Kootenay Ice, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Royal University Hospital on Saturday March 1, 2014, and was diagnosed with Neisseria Meningitis. The Trust will help Tim's family cover his medical expenses.

 

The first shift of the game ended with a Shea Theodore shot 30 seconds in. Seattle kept at it after Lotz's cover up and drew a penalty 57 seconds into the game, giving the home team their first power play.  

 

The T-Birds worked the puck around the zone quickly and had a few more attempts before taking the lead at 2:27. Ethan Bear pinched down to ensure Seattle kept possession. The team then worked the puck to Roberts Lipsbergs, who had his shot fought off by Lotz. Jaimen Yakubowski and Russell Maxwell attacked the rebound, with Maxwell poking it into the back of the net to make it 1-0. Yakubowski and Lipsbergs had the assists.  

 

"I was really fortunate to get a lucky bounce and get a goal" said Maxwell, who was playing in his first WHL playoff game. "It feels good to play a game that's not just another game... there's a lot more enthusiasm" Maxwell said about the new experience.

 

Alexander Delnov almost made it 2-0 at 5:18. Delnov got the puck between the faceoff circles and beat Lotz but the puck banged off the post and Lotz was able to recover and force a faceoff.

 

Seattle took a penalty at 5:36, giving Everett a chance at 5-on-4 hockey. Bad luck struck the Silvertips early in their man advantage when they shot the puck off the post on just their third shot of the game. Jujhar Khaira had another chance for the visitors from deep in the slot that Kozun caught, and Everett took a penalty to end their power play as they jabbed away at the puck.

 

Kozun drew a goaltender interference call at the period's halfway point, giving Seattle their third power play of the game and resulting in a goal. Theodore extended the Seattle lead to 2-0 at 11:44. Mathew Barzal tossed a pass across the zone to Branden Troock. Troock passed up a sharp angle shot and gave it to Theodore at the top of the offensive zone. Theodore beat Lotz through traffic for his first goal of the playoffs. "It brings a lot of confidence to me and the team [to get an early lead] said Kozun, who was able to play "more relaxed" in net after Seattle scored twice.

 

The Silvertips responded with pressure, but the T-Birds stood tall and kept their lead despite numerous opportunities. Yakubowski blocked a slap shot from the point and Kozun calmly made his way about the crease, saving every shot that got through. Seattle slowly turned the tide back in their favor and was able to take over the offensive flow as the period wound toward its close.  

 

Troock had a wraparound shot at the 18-minute mark that Lotz was able to pounce on in time. Everett's return rush gave them a 3-on-2, but Kozun was able to flash the glove and catch the puck on a Silvertip shot from just outside the crease. Seattle took a penalty with 23 seconds left, meaning they started the second period on the penalty kill.

 

The Silvertips outshot the T-Birds 13-12 after one and Seattle led in faceoffs, winning 12 of 21.

 

Seattle kept Everett from doing much of anything during their power play, but the T-Birds were penalized again with five seconds left. This gave Everett five seconds of 5-on-3 and another two minutes of 5-on-4. The T-Birds took a second penalty with plenty of time left in that penalty kill, putting the Silvertips back on the 5-on-3 for 1:15.

 

Everett scored on this power play, making it 2-1 and giving them another 1:27 of time on the man advantage. Patrick Bajkov had the goal from deep in the faceoff circle, with Josh Winquist and Ivan Nikolishin getting the assists. The goal came at 2:43.

 

Seattle killed off the rest of the penalty and the second period went to even-strength hockey for the first time at 4:14. The home team immediately took another penalty just 10 seconds later and went back on the kill. Once again, the T-Birds stood tall, stopping Everett's attack and even creating two shorthanded chances that slowed down the visitors. Kozun was unaffected by the penalty-heavy beginning to the second, saying that "I've just got to be the best penalty killer out there... and make a couple big saves if I have to."

 

Thanks to the succession of penalties, the T-Birds only had one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes, coming on a rush soon after the game returned to even strength. Everett had 12 shots in that time. Seattle came out of the media timeout with their best pressure of the period but managed to record just one shot on goal during the two-minute attack. After Everett responded, the T-Birds once again took control and held the puck for upwards of a minute, though no shots followed.

 

Kozun came up big with five minutes left in the period. A 2-on-1 Silvertip rush ended with Kozun stopping the first shot and then kicking across the crease in time to block the second. Seattle's defense pinned the puck to the boards after that, allowing Kozun time to recover.

 

Troock and Lipsbergs nearly gave Seattle a third goal at 15:50. Troock collected the puck off a defensive zone faceoff and flew down the ice past the Everett defense. The winger tried to feed Lipsbergs on the rush, but the Silvertips' defenseman was able to get his stick into the play in time to break it up.

 

Adam Henry had an even juicier chance just barely fall by the wayside with 1:30 left in the period. Henry's first shot from deep in the zone went off Lotz's chest and back to the defenseman, who skated around the net and tried again as he lost his balance. Lotz, helped along by his defense, was able to stop this as well. Seattle followed with a backhand shot in the slot, which was also stopped.

 

Everett led in shots 19-4 in the second period and Seattle led in faceoffs 11-8.

 

Kozun started the third period just as hot as he had left off. The goalie made a flashy glove save on the rush and knocked the puck out of the air with his stick to make the only two saves of the first three minutes. Yakubowski had a good chance for Seattle but had it blocked away by a sliding Everett defenseman.

 

Everett got their sixth power play four minutes into the period, giving them a chance to tie the game. Kozun continued to shine and, combined with a few clearances by Yakubowski and Jared Hauf, kept the Silvertips off the board to protect the one-goal lead.

 

A long stretch of uninterrupted play ate up the middle of the period. Neither team could create offensive but physicality was thrown about with abandon. Both teams had their fair share of punishing hits and just three shots total were recorded in the first 15 minutes of the game: two for Seattle and one for Everett. Hauf broke up what was almost a 2-on-0 for Everett, getting to the puck first on the boards just outside the defensive zone and poking it away.  

 

The first stoppage in upwards of five minutes came when Hickman's glove was stuck between two panes of glass along the side of the rink. "That was a first," said the captain.

 

The T-Birds drew a penalty with 4:13 left in the game, getting their first power play since the first period. The home team peppered Lotz with dangerous chances but came away without a goal despite Everett only being able to clear the puck twice.

 

Lotz left the net with under 40 seconds left in the game, making it 6-on-5 as the clock ticked down. Scott Eansor couldn't get an empty-net goal but did dump the puck into the zone to seal the victory.

 

Shots in the final period were 7-6 Everett and faceoffs were 6-2 Seattle.

 

First Round Schedule Vs. Everett
Game 1 - Seattle 2, vs. Everett 1
Game 2 - Seattle @ Everett Sunday, March 23, 4:05pm
Game 3 - Everett @ Seattle Tuesday, March 25, 7:05pm
Game 4 - Seattle @ Everett Friday, March 28, 7:35pm
Game 5 - Everett @ Seattle Saturday, March 29, 7:05pm*
Game 6 - Seattle @ Everett Monday, March 31, 7:05pm*
Game 7 - Everett @ Seattle Wednesday, April 2, 7:05pm*
* if necessary

 

T-Birds single playoff tickets are currently on sale online at the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare Center box office. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday game days at 10 a.m. and Sunday game days at noon.

 

SCORING SUMMARY

 

First period - 1, Seattle, Maxwell 1 (Yakubowski, Lipsbergs), 2:27 (pp). 2, Seattle, Theodore 1 (Troock, Barzal), 11:44 (pp). Penalties - Hayer, Everett (boarding), :57. Hickman, Seattle (boarding), 5:36. Leedahl, Everett (slashing), 6:15. Khaira, Everett (goaltender interference), 9:56. Hickman, Seattle (goaltender interference), 19:27.

 

Second period - 3, Everett, Bajkov 1 (Winquist, Nikolishin), 2:43 (pp). Penalties - Theodore, Seattle (roughing), 1:23. Maxwell, Seattle (tripping), 2:09. Wardley, Seattle (charging), 4:28.

 

Third period - No scoring. Penalties - Wardley, Seattle (kneeing), 4:46. MacDonald, Everett (tripping), 15:47.

 

Shots on goal - Seattle 12-4-6 22, Everett 12-20-7 39. Goalies - Seattle, Kozun 39 shots-38 saves (1-0); Everett, Lotz 22-20 (0-1). Power plays - Seattle 2-4; Everett 1-6. A - 4,560. Referees - Kevin Bennett, Jeff Ingram. Linesmen - Bevan Mills, Nathan Van Oosten.