KENT, November 29, 2013 - The Thunderbirds defeated the Saskatoon Blades 6-2 Friday night at ShoWare Center in Kent. The six goals for Seattle were tied for their most this season. Seattle's record is now 14-9-1-3, good for sixth in the Western Conference. Saskatoon falls to 10-15-1-2
After the game against the Blades the T-Birds announced right wing Calvin Spencer signed a standard WHL Player Agreement with the team. Spencer joins the T-Birds from the Minnesota NW team in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League. This season Spencer had appeared in 21 games with four goals and six assists for 10 points with 30 penalty minutes. Spencer is a 17-year-old who stands 6'1 and weighs in at 185 pounds and
who played with Champlin Park High School last year. Last season with Champlin Park he had seven goals and 13 points for 20 points with 54 penalty minutes in 25 games.
Justin Myles started for the T-Birds, getting his eighth win of the season while stopping 26 of 28 shots. Alex Moodie was in net for Saskatoon and gave up 6 goals on 28 shots, falling to 7-10-1-1.
The T-Birds power play came on the ice at the beginning of the game with a chance to take control early. A roughing call against Saskatoon only 15 seconds into the game gave Seattle the opportunity. Chances came from deep in the slot during the advantage but Moodie was able to hang tough and keep the game scoreless.
Back at even strength, Seattle just missed taking the lead. A turnover by Moodie while behind the net gave the T-Birds a chance, but Sam McKechnie wasn't quite able to get the wraparound there in time. Lots of Seattle shots, combined with Moodie denying any rebounds, led to multiple faceoffs in the Blades zone.
Saskatoon started to pressure the T-Birds halfway through the period with plenty of action around the net. Myles was able to slide across the crease with confidence and turned aside any Saskatoon opportunities. Balance reigned after the Blades attack as the puck alternated possession quickly without any dangerous attempts. Only one shot on goal was recorded by either team for four minutes, ending with a Saskatoon slap shot from the point that was easily steered away by Myles with four and a half minutes remaining.
A penalty came Seattle's way with three minutes left in the first period, putting them on the penalty kill for the first time in the game. The Blades, owners of the top-ranked power play in the WHL, were able to score on a high point shot halfway through the penalty to make the score 1-0 Saskatoon. The goal at 18:09 was Chase Clayton's second of the season and came from a Ryan Coghlan assist.
Shots at the end of one period were 10-8 in Saskatoon's favor.
Three offsides began the second period, all coming within the first minute. These three faceoffs were part of seven in the period's first two minutes as the game ground to a crawl.
The Blades took their second penalty of the game with 15 minutes left and Seattle scored quickly. The tying goal came when Alexander Delnov banked a puck off a defenseman from behind the red line. Delnov's 11th of the season came 20 seconds into the power play, with Ryan Gropp and Jerret Smith earning the assists.
Seattle almost took the lead two minutes after they tied the game at one. A shot from the point bounced high off the post and Roberts Lipsbergs attempt to bat it in was stopped by Moodie's right pad. Holding the puck in the zone for most of the period, Seattle was bit by a goaltender interference call that allowed Saskatoon's power play back on the ice. Twenty seconds into the penalty, the T-Birds were on the wrong end of a tripping call to give the Blades a minute and a half of 5-on-3 hockey.
Successful in killing off the first penalty, Seattle was given the advantage when Saskatoon took a penalty while still a man up to give the T-Birds a minute and a half of power-play time.
Delnov scored his second goal of the game during the man advantage, taking a pass in the high slot and carrying the puck to just in front of Moodie, where the Russian whipped it home. Adam Henry made the pass and had the primary assist, and Scott Eansor had the secondary assist for his third point in four games. The goal came at 11:28 of the period.
Delnov was able to draw a penalty to put Seattle back on the man advantage. Mathew Barzal created one of the T-Birds many chances when his cross-crease pass went just past Henry in the left faceoff dot. The power play, one of seven in the period, expired without any scoring.
Ryan Gropp put the T-Birds up two with a minute left in the period. Delnov forced a turnover on the boards and was able to throw the puck back out in front, where Gropp chipped the puck from his backhand to his forehand and batted it past Moodie. The second assist went to Evan Wardley.
Just before the period ended, a holding call against Seattle put Saskatoon's power play back on the ice. The Blades scored quickly, making the score 3-2 with 20 seconds remaining in the second. Matt Revel had the goal and Nathan Burns and Nikita Scherbak had the assists.
Shots on goal in the second were 12-9 in Seattle's favor to give them a 20-19 advantage through two.
Four-on-four hockey opened the third period when each team earned a penalty for the disagreements following the second period's closing whistle. The game returned to full-strength hockey without incident.
The first five minutes of the final period were marred by offsides calls and a hand pass, robbing the game of any sort of flow. A few awkward bounces for both teams almost caused goals, but disaster was averted each time.
Despite only having two shots on goal in the first nine minutes, Seattle was able to score its fourth goal of the game. Branden Troock faked a slap shot from the blue line, then skated around the defense and beat Moodie through traffic. Delnov had the only assist for his fourth point of the night as the lead stretched to 4-2 for the T-Birds.
The goal helped Seattle burst to life. The home team had a 2-on-1 rush that ended with them on the power play for the fifth time. Ethan Bear wasted no time scoring to make the score 5-2. Bear's power-play goal came when Delnov rocketed a pass across the crease to leave the defenseman a wide open net after sneaking down from the left point. Gropp had the second assist, his third point of the night. Delnov's assist was his fifth point of the game, the most of any T-Bird in a single game this season.
McKechnie extended the lead on the next shift with an unassisted goal. The winger stole the puck in the slot and beat Moodie glove side for Seattle's sixth goal of the night.
The home team's four three goals in the period came on eight shots, while Saskatoon had nine shots in the period. Both teams ended the game with 28 shots.
Seattle's next game is Saturday, November 30, when the T-Birds host the Victoria Royals for the final time this year at 7:05pm at the ShoWare Center. The T-Birds will also be playing Sunday, December 1, in Spokane against the Chiefs at 5:05pm.
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, Saskatoon, Clayton 2 (Coghlan), 18:09 (pp). Penalties - Valcourt, Saskatoon (roughing), :15. Troock, Seattle (roughing), 17:01.
Second period - 2, Seattle, Delnov 11 (Gropp, Smith), 4:37 (pp). 3, Seattle, Delnov 12 (Henry, Eansor), 11:28 (pp). 4, Seattle, Gropp 3 (Delnov, Wardley), 18:27. 5, Saskatoon, Revel 7 (Burns, Scherbak), 19:33 (pp). Penalties - Elliot, Seattle (major- fighting), 1:34. Craig, Saskatoon (major- fighting), 1:34. Nemecek, Saskatoon (interference), 4:13. Henry, Seattle (goaltender interference), 8:32. Smith, Seattle (tripping), 8:52. Stovin, Saskatoon (hooking), 10:23. Theodore, Seattle (high-sticking), 12:40. Harland, Saskatoon (high-sticking), 15:24. Henry, Seattle (holding), 19:13. Hickman, Seattle (roughing), 20:00. Burns, Saskatoon (roughing), 20:00.
Third period - 6, Seattle, Troock 8 (Delnov), 8:25. 7, Seattle, Bear 2 (Delnov, Gropp), 10:23 (pp). 8, Seattle, McKechnie 3 (unassisted), 12:01. Penalties - Revel, Saskatoon (hooking), 10:09.
Shots on goal - Seattle 8-12-8 28, Saskatoon 10-9-9 28. Goalies - Seattle, Myles 28 shots-26 saves (8-4-0-0); Saskatoon, Moodie 28-22 (7-10-1-1). Power plays - Seattle 3-5, Saskatoon 2-5. A - 3,221. Referees - Adam Griffiths, Nick Swaine. Linesmen - Tim Digby, Al Creigh.