KENT, January 17, 2014 - The Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans 4-0 Friday night, getting their fifth win in a row. The win puts Seattle's record at 27-14-2-3, while Tri-City falls to 20-21-2-2 after the loss. Seattle enjoyed the home ice advantage, with goalie Taran Kozun mentioning that the fans "lift the guys up and give them energy on the bench."
The recently-acquired Kozun, who had a shutout in his first T-Bird start, and was making his home debut, stopped all 26 shots he faced, recording his second consecutive shutout and getting the T-Birds' third of the year. Kozun's record is now 7-19-2-1 after winning his first two games with Seattle. The goalie credited his "amazing" start to the "defense in front of me [and] the forwards playing defense too."
Evan Sarthou made his eighth start for the Americans, stopping 27 of 31 shots and getting the loss. His record stands at 3-5-0-0.
The first shot of the game was as big as they come, giving Seattle the lead at 1:23. Shea Theodore and Russell Maxwell worked the puck back and forth to bring it into the zone. Theodore then found Maxwell skating between the faceoff dots, where the center fired it home for his first goal as a T-Bird.
Tri-City responded with a bounce-back shift, recording three shots on goal in the next two minutes and making Kozun work to keep the score 1-0 before the visitors iced the puck. Mathew Barzal, playing in his first game after returning from injury, created another chance for the T-Birds with a pass across ice and through a handful of defenders to Calvin Spencer, whose shot bounced off the side of the net. It was the first of many such passes for Barzal, who had another pass from behind the net reach Justin Hickman out front. The captain was turned aside by Sarthou, but the T-Birds remained on the offensive for most of the first five minutes.
Konowalchuk said Barzal was "able to get into some situations and held up fine" in his first game back.
Seattle forced two more icing calls by the 12-minute mark, and the Americans didn't have an offensive possession for minutes on end. An offside call helped to right the ship for Tri-City, who forced a cover up by Kozun at 10:47 for their first shot since the 17-minute mark. It was the start of a dangerous sequence in favor of the visitors, but the game remained 1-0 in Seattle's favor en route to their first power play.
Barzal had another excellent play with five minutes remaining in the first. Roberts Lipsbergs stole the puck at the blue line on the forecheck, leaving him and Barzal alone with just one defender. Barzal managed to get a pass to Lipsbergs at the side of the net, but Sarthou stopped the initial attempt and covered the puck before anyone could get to the rebound.
The Americans had two power plays to Seattle's one in the period, but shots were even at eight. Faceoffs were 13-8 in Seattle's favor and the score remained 1-0.
With Tri-City on the power play to start the second period, Kozun stood on his head for a short sequence before Seattle's penalty killers stopped the attack. Back at even strength, the T-Birds once again had several chances just miss, thanks in large part to the impressive work of Sarthou.
The Seattle offense tilted the ice in their direction once they were able to get the game to even strength for an extended period. Seattle recorded nine shots to Tri-City's six in the first 10 minutes of the second despite twice being on the penalty kill. Four of those shots from the Americans came in the 10th minute in their first extended pressure of the period.
Tri-City got on a roll from there, holding Seattle without a shot in the next two minutes and drawing another penalty. Kozun stopped all 13 shots he faced in the period though and kept the score 1-0.
The T-Birds had one power play in the period, coming at 15:47 after a tripping call. The home team didn't have a shot on goal during that man advantage, but did control the puck for the first minute before Tri-City clearances did them in.
In the second period, shots were 13-10 in Tri-City's favor and faceoffs were 8-6 in Seattle's. The score remained at 1-0 Seattle after a scoreless second.
A late penalty meant the T-Birds had a man advantage for the first 1:55 of the third. Unfortunately, a penalty went against Seattle 20 seconds into that time, making it 4-on-4. The 20-second power play that came after for Tri-City was unable to score.
Another power play went to Seattle at 5:14, their fourth of the game. Once again, over a minute of pressure wasn't enough to create a second goal, and the game stayed at 1-0.
The T-Birds did finally get the two-goal lead at 8:22. Sam McKechnie put home a rebound through the pads of Sarthou for the second goal of the night. Jerret Smith had the initial shot, which rebounded out to a horde of players. Jaimen Yakubowski had the first attempt steered away, only to have McKechnie score on the next. The goal "deflated [the Americans] a little bit" in the eyes of coach Steve Konowalchuk, and the T-Birds offense took control from there.
The fifth Seattle power play of the night paid off, with Lipsbergs redirecting a Theodore shot past Sarthou. Alexander Delnov had the secondary assist on the power-play goal at 13:05 that made the score 3-0 Seattle.
It didn't take long for the T-Birds to add a fourth goal, scoring at 16:06. Yakubowski scored the goal, his fifth of the season, and the assists went to Theodore and Delnov. Theodore's assist on the goal was his third of the night.
Seattle outshot Tri-City 13-5 in the third period en route to the victory.
The T-Birds will travel to Kamloops on Saturday to take on the Blazers at 7 pm. The next home game for Seattle will be Tuesday, when the T-Birds and Moose Jaw Warriors face off for the only time this season at 7:05 pm.
T-Birds single game tickets for the 2013-14 season are available 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.
T-Birds season tickets are currently on sale. Season tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.
First period -
1, Seattle, Maxwell 11 (Theodore), 1:23. Penalties - Hillis, Tri-City (interference), 11:16. Hickman, Seattle (roughing), 13:04. Hamonic, Tri-City (roughing), 13:04. Bear, Seattle (tripping), 16:09. Hauf, Seattle (roughing), 19:01.
Second period -
No scoring. Penalties - Wardley, Seattle (major-fighting), 2:07. Hamonic, Tri-City (major-fighting), 2:07. Wardley, Seattle (roughing), 2:07. Wardley, Seattle (interference), 11:53. Nickles, Tri-City (tripping), 15:47. Wotherspoon, Tri-City (roughing), 19:54.
Third period -
2, Seattle, McKechnie 5 (Yakubowski, Smith), 8:22. 3, Seattle, Lipsbergs 26 (Theodore, Delnov), 13:05 (pp). 4, Seattle, Yakubowski 5 (Theodore, Delnov), 16:06. Penalties - Bear, Seattle (interference), :20. Vickerman, Tri-City (interference), 5:14. Wotherspoon, Tri-City (high-sticking), 12:48.
Shots on goal -
Seattle 8-10-13 31, Tri-City 8-13-5 26. Goalies - Seattle, Kozun 26 shots- 26 saves (7-19-2-1); Tri-City, Sarthou 31-27 (3-5-0-0). Power plays - Seattle 1-5; Tri-City 0-5. A - 4,677. Referees - Jonathan Stephenson, Curtis Marouelli. Linesmen - Tim Digby, Kevin Boris.