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T-Birds out last Royals in preseason shoot out

By Andrew Eide

EVERETT – The Seattle Thunderbirds won their second straight preseason game Saturday as they came back to beat the Victoria Royals 6-5 in a shoot out. The T-Birds fell behind by two goals on three occasions but were able to tie the game late in the third before winning the shoot out.

Alex Delnov scored three goals in the win and Mathew Barzal got the tying goal with under three minutes left to even the score.

The game was a penalty filled physical affair that saw Victoria out shoot Seattle 56-35. Seattle goalie Devon Fordyce was under pressure, and a lot of rubber, all game but managed to make 51 saves in his first preseason action with Seattle. For the 19 year-old who is vying for a spot in Seattle’s crease, it was a good outing.

“He played really well,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said after. “We’ve had two goalies play and I think both have played really well. We’ve got four guys going at it right now that have all played well all camp, so there’s going to be some tough decisions,”

Fordyce says he can’t worry about the competition and just wants to work hard and play his best.

“I just need to do my own thing,” the Cochrane, AB said. “I feel that if I bring what I can to the table I think everything will work it self out in my favor.”

Victoria got on the board first,late in the opening period on a Logan Nelson goal. Delnov got Seattle even a couple of minutes later with a power play goal after a nice pass from Ethan Bear. In the second period Victoria had Seattle on their heels, out shooting the T-Birds 26-8. Seattle took five penalties in the second as Victoria built a 3-1 lead half-way through the period.

“The first period was good by both teams, it was pretty even,” Konowalchuk said. “Then we got off our game plan in the second, we got out battled and when that happens you take penalties.”

Seattle managed to get within one goal when 15 year-old Kaden Elder scored his first goal at the eight minute mark. Elder is not eligible to play this season but the 2013 first round draft pick was excited to score.

“It was really good, I was so excited,” Elder said. “I just didn’t know what to expect with a goal like that.”

Elder has had a strong showing and seems excited to have signed with the T-Birds.

“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s a lot faster than the hockey we play, I’ve had to adjust to it but it’s just fast paced and you have to work hard and I’m having fun with it.”

In the third period Victoria got their two goal lead back 29 seconds into the final frame as Austin Carroll was left in front of the Seattle net where he banged home a quick shot.

The T-Birds responded by playing a crisper game than they did in the second period. Half-way through the period Delnov completed his hat trick as he stole the puck in front of the Victoria goal and beat Coleman Vollrath for an unassisted goal – bringing Seattle back to within one goal.

The Royals shot themselves in the foot late in the game as they took two penalties that gave Seattle a two-man power play. The T-Birds cashed in on the power play as Barzal took two whacks at the puck and got the second to go in. It was the second goal for Barzal in as many preseason games.

For most of the preseason the T-Birds have not deployed a power play unit – choosing to just roll the regular lines. For the late power play however, they had what looked like a potential first unit. It consisted of Barzal, Delnov, and Riley Sheen up front with Shea Theodore and Connor Honey on the points. Might we see these five once the season starts?

“We’re going to have two good units,” Konowalchuk said. “I want to keep that, you can’t go for more than a minute. You want to go a minute hard, we needed a goal so I thought let’s get our most offensive guys out there. We’ve got some nice options that aren’t in the lineup right now so we’ll see how it will shape up.”

In the shoot out Barzal and Theodore converted on their tries to seal the victory for Seattle.

The T-Birds will be back in action Sunday as they close out the Everett Preseason Tournament with a game at 3 p.m. against the Spokane Chiefs.

Game Notes

For the second straight game Justin Hickman was a scratch. He is serving the remainder of his four game suspension that he picked up during the playoffs last year. He had three games to serve still this year. The league rules require the suspension to be in affect for both the pre and regular season. Hickman can not play on Sunday and will have to miss the first three games of the regular season.

The goal of the game was turned in by Victoria’s 15 year-old Matthew Phillips. The 2013 second round draft pick looks like he will be a good player in the WHL. He stick handled his way past two Seattle defenders before beating Fordyce with a nice shot.

Seattle scored three power play goals on seven attempts while killing of seven of eight Victoria man advantages.

T-Birds scratches for the game were Hickman, Brendan Troock, Seth Swenson, Roberts Lipsbergs, Jerret Smith, Griffin Foulk, Danny Mumaugh and Justin Myles.

Justin Myles will get the start in goal for Seattle on Sunday.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide