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Zack Andrusiak, Noah Philp spark Thunderbirds in win over Kootenay

Seattle's Zack Andrusiak recorded a second straight hat trick Friday night as the T-Birds beat Kootenay (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)

KENT – To put it simply, Seattle Thunderbirds forward Zack Andrusiak is on fire.

The 20-year-old paced Seattle Friday night against the Kootenay ICE with his second consecutive hat trick. It was his fourth career hat trick and seventh straight game with a goal. He’s racked up 18 goals on the season and can’t seem to miss.

“That’s Andy,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said about Andrusiak. “When he’s got his mojo going he’s a pretty dangerous player. He’s got it going and I just said to the team, it’s not just offensive flashes. He’s doing the little things right as well.”

The hat trick paced the Thunderbirds to a 7-4 win at the accesso ShoWare Center to snap their three-game losing streak. Andrusiak added an assist for good measure as Seattle (9-12-3-0) also had a big night from Noah Philp who scored while also adding an assist.

Kootenay (7-18-3-1) was led by a hat trick from 2018 NHL Draft prospect Peyton Krebs in the loss.

Seattle’s offense had been struggling but Friday night saw the return of Philp from injury. He manned the second-line center position and was a key part to the resurgent offense.

“He was great out there,” O’Dette said. “You see how often he has the puck on his stick when he’s out there. Some of the vision he has setting up his linemates is impressive.”

With Philp back on the ice, Seattle flung 45 shots at the ICE and scored seven times. The 20-year-old center helped give the Thunderbirds more balance in their attack as they picked up goals from three different forward lines.

Its been a while since Seattle has had that kind of attack.

“Balanced scoring is nice,” O’Dette said. “We’ve had one line carrying us a little bit. But one guy inserted in the lineup I thought sparked a lot of confidence up and down the lineup.”

Andrusiak got going early in the first period when he fired a wrist shot past ICE goalie Duncan McGovern at 3:36 of the first period. He would then set up Seattle’s second goal when he slid the puck to defenseman Simon Kubicek who blasted his sixth of the season just 42 seconds into the second frame.

Kootenay would cut the lead just over a minute later when Michael Milne was able to beat goalie Liam Hughes on a breakaway. Hughes would end the night by making 20 saves.

Philp would give Seattle its two-goal lead back when Kukuca found him in the slot at 4:35 of the second for his 10th of the year. Friday was the first game back for Philp since he left a game in Prince George on Nov. 2nd.

The week off that the Thunderbirds had prior to Friday’s game was just enough time to get the 20-year-old back on the ice.

“I think this was about the earliest I could play,” Philp said. “Felt pretty good. I was a little worried at the beginning. Wasn’t sure how much I could handle but got used to the speed quickly.”

Philp had missed seven-plus games with injury and had to watch as the Thunderbirds struggled to score without him.

“It was tough,” he said of the layoff. “You never want to be out when the team’s struggling. I think we were playing well, just weren’t really finishing and I wish I could have been in for some of them.”

Up 3-1, Seattle would let the door open for the ICE to hang around.

A minute after Philp’s goal, Krebs would pot his first of the night as he put back a rebound. Less than 30 seconds later Andrusiak would strike again when the ICE gave him too much room and he buried a wrist shot.

Back to a two-goal Seattle lead, the ICE would strike two minutes later with Krebs’ second of the night. He would complete the hat trick on the power play at 3:41 of the third to tie the game, despite Seattle’s heavy shot advantage.

“Give them credit, they’re definitely a pesky team,” O’Dette said. “They work hard, they were a handful at times. That Krebs is a heck of a player. I thought we could have managed the puck a little bit better. I think any time we turned it over it fueled their transition game and that’s what got them going.

“They were very quick on transitions and getting behind our D. I thought we could have done a better job there with our D sensing danger.”

After allowing the ICE to tie the game, Seattle responded.

Kukuca would score his sixth of the year at 4:49 of the third period to give Seattle its lead back. The Thunderbirds weren’t done, however. Andrusiak would notch his third at 9:50 when he scored from the high slot.

Friday was the second game in a row that O’Dette had Andrusiak deployed with Nolan Volcan and Matthew Wedman. He has six goals since making that move.

“That’s the way things go sometimes,” Andrusiak said. “Pucks will go in more than not sometimes, other times you can’t buy a goal. Hopefully we can keep the chemistry going.”

Tyler Carpendale would score his second of the season late to round out the scoring and help seal what was just Seattle’s second win in the month of November.

With a win, and seven goals, Seattle has no time to revel. They hopped the bus after the game to head up to Kamloops for a Saturday night match up with the Blazers.

“We have to build of it,” Andrusiak said of the win. “We have another big one on the road tomorrow night in Kamloops. We have to take the positives from this and continue to grow and get better.”

Notes

• The big return for Philp came against his former team. He was traded to Seattle from Kootenay prior to the start of last season after playing 132 games for the ICE. “I don’t know quite as many of them as I used to,” Philp said. “It’s always fun playing the home town team and I think I’m always a little extra excited for it.”

• Krebs is considered one of the top prospects for June’s NHL Draft. That explains why there were 43 NHL scouts in attendance Friday night.