Thunderbirds beat Lethbridge 4-3 for third straight win
Nov 19, 2016, 12:12 AM
KENT – After a slow start at home this year, the Seattle Thunderbirds were looking to give their fans a show Friday night.
The T-Birds controlled the play against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes to skate away with a 4-3 decision for their third win in a row. It was only their third win at home as they came into the night with a 2-4-0-1 record at the ShoWare Center.
Alexander True ignited the home crowd with his first career hat trick to pace the Seattle offense as his hot play continued. Friday night also marked the first home game of the season for Mathew Barzal and Keegan Kolesar.
“These are the best fans in the league by far,” Kolesar said about the home win. “We had a great home record last year and we want to continue that. We’re going to play hard this year and make it known that nobody wants to play in this barn.”
With his roster intact, head coach Steve Konowalchuk now can deploy three solid lines each night. True played with Donovan Neuls and rookie Elijah Brown and they’ve potted four goals, all by True, in the last two games.
All eyes may have been on the Barzal line, but the win showed that the T-Birds have some scoring depth up and down their lineup. True’s line were the stars on Friday.
“That was a real good line for us,” Konowalchuk said. “We’ve had a lot of goals in the last two games. When you’re getting a so-called third line chipping in like that, it’s big.”
True would strike first for Seattle (10-8-0-1) early on when he converted on a nice feed from Brown for his seventh goal of the season.
Lethbridge (7-11-1-2) evened things up ten minutes later after the T-Birds had to scramble in their own end and Ryan Bowen knocked it into the empty net. The Hurricanes didn’t have a chance to enjoy that goal because 20 seconds later Sami Moilanen drew in the Lethbirdge defense down low and found Scott Eansor in the slot for his ninth of the season to make it 2-1.
It was another strong night for Eansor and his linemates, Moilanen and Nolan Volcan. The goal for Eansor was his third in as many games.
“Eansor is moving the puck and jumping in holes more consistency than he used to,” Konowalchuk said. “Moilanen is a good hockey player and Volcan has been playing at a higher level, skating better this year. That’s why they’ve had success.”
True would score again midway through the second when he banged home a rebound on the power play. That made it 3-1 Seattle and ended an 0-for-12 slump for the T-Birds power play. They would end the night 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Despite heavily out shooting the Hurricanes 39-21, the T-Birds couldn’t get enough pucks past goalie Stuart Skinner and that left Lethbridge in the game.
Tyler Wong would cut the lead to 3-2 in the second period after a pile up in front of Seattle goalie Rylan Toth. They would then tie the game at three early in the third period on a long shot from Jordy Bellervie during a Lethbridge power play.
It was looking like another game where the T-Birds were controlling the flow of play but were in danger of not winning.
“It’s not an excuse and we’ve got to get better at it but when you’re pressing and controlling the play, you can get a little bit on your toes instead of playing smart at times,” Konowalchuk said. “Someone will get behind you, the puck will bounce on you, over your stick.
“I think that’s going to happen a bit when you’re controlling the play but again you have to make sure that doesn’t happen, you have to be mentally tough.”
The T-Birds would bounce back to take the lead for good and it would be True once again. His shot from just inside the Hurricane’s blue line deflected off of a Lethbridge player and past Skinner to complete the hat trick.
As hats reigned down from the ShoWare Center crowd, True was all smiles as he is tied for the team lead with nine goals.
“I had a big smile on my face after scoring that third goal,” True said. “All the boys were cheering me on, it felt really good.”
True now has a three-game point streak with four goals and two assists. His linemate Brown also has points in his last three games as the chemistry seems to be there.
“Both of my linemates are really good players and it makes it easier” True added. “It could have been any of those guys who got the goals tonight.”
The T-Birds will now head to Portland for a match up with their rivals, the Winterhawks on Saturday night. They do so with three wins in their pockets and playing perhaps their best hockey of the season
• Kolesar was making his home debut after getting back into the lineup Tuesday night in Spokane. He was happy to be back to playing hockey. “It’s been a long six weeks,” Kolesar said. “I watched every game here and Cleveland Monsters games and whatever NHL games. I‘ve been watching a lot of hockey…it’s hard to be away from hockey.”
• Ryan Gropp was held off the score sheet to snap his nine-game point streak.
• Goalie Rylan Toth made 18 saves on Friday to pick up his eighth win of the season.
• Seattle not only has three straight wins but has also won seven of its last 10.