Thunderbirds take down Silvertips 3-1

Jan 17, 2017, 10:56 PM | Updated: Jan 18, 2017, 7:08 am

KENT – Playing against their division rivals Tuesday, the Seattle Thunderbirds had their best players step up big.

Seattle’s top line of Mathew Barzal, Keegan Kolesar and Ryan Gropp dominated their time on the ice and ended up combining for two goals and six points as the T-Birds picked up an important 3-1 win over the division leading Everett Silvertips.

“They’re playing with some confidence right now,” Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said of the Barzal line. “I think to this point it’s the best I’ve seen those three play…That’s a pretty dangerous line, when they’re out there it seems the ice is tilted in our favor.”

The win was Seattle’s (24-14-3-1) sixth in a row – its longest streak of the season – and third straight against Everett (28-6-7-1).

The T-Birds came out of the gates controlling the play. They amassed the first 12 shots on goal and would take a lead when Barzal wheeled around the zone and flung an impossible backhand shot that somehow found a hole between Carter Hart and the post.

Everett came into the game with the league’s sixth best power-play unit in the WHL and had caused problems for the T-Birds in the past. Seattle allowed them to tie the game against the flow of play by taking three penalties in the opening 20 minutes. The Silvertips used their first power play to tie the game on only their second shot when Matt Fonteyne banged home his 14th on the backdoor feed.

After dominating the first period, the T-Birds had to settle for only a 1-1 tie at the first intermission.

“It’s tough when we’re out-shooting them 12-0 and then they score on their second shot,” goalie Rylan Toth said. “That’s kind of frustrating sometimes but you can’t really worry about that.”

Toth would end the game with 23 saves to pick up his 20th win of the year.

Despite giving up the lead, Seattle would not let the goal affect its play.

“You have to not let it get you down,” Konowalchuk said. “We had a really good first period and they score a fairly quick power play goal and there we are 1-1. You just have to keep going and understand how you’re playing and keep doing it.”

The T-Birds stayed out of the box in the second period and took a lead with a little bit of razzle-dazzle.

Barzal made a highlight reel pass between his legs that ended up on Keegan Kolesar’s stick in the slot. He flung a wrist shot for his eighth goal of the season.

“No comment,” Konowalchuk said with a laugh of the unorthodox pass. “It ended up in a goal so I loved it.”

Kolesar said he wasn’t caught off guard by the play.

“I’m not really surprised with him,” Kolesar said of his line mate. “In practice, he’s always trying some real crazy stuff so you have to be ready for anything.”

Everett came out of the third period pushing for the equalizer and flung six shots on Toth in the first few minutes. The goalie was sharp however and made all the stops.

“Going into the third with the lead you know they’re going to make a push,” Toth said. “and I just wanted to be ready for the guys.”

The T-Birds and Toth were tested late when Everett was given a power play with just over two minutes left. Seattle was able to stave it off by making adjustments to their penalty kill after the first period. The Silvertips pulled Carter Hart late for the extra skater but it backfired as Kolesar came out of the penalty box.

Noah Juulsen had the puck at the blue line and didn’t see the big winger coming. Kolesar lifted the Everett defenseman’s stick, stole the puck and fed it to Alexander True who scored from center ice.

“Honestly, I was just as shocked that I got that stick up,” Kolesar said. “I don’t know how the guy didn’t see me but I was able to get a strip on him and kick it to True.”

The T-Birds busy schedule continue as they will get on the bus and head to Spokane for a game on Wednesday night.

“We’re just taking it game by game,” Kolesar said. “It’s fun playing these guys in our barn for sure, especially when we have a good crowd like that. Now we’re just focusing on tomorrow’s game.”


• Lost in the highlights from Barzal and company was the shot blocking turned in by the T-Birds. Konowalchuk singled out Sami Moilanen for blocking a ton of shots. His line, with Donovan Neuls and Nolan Volcan also took on Everett’s top line and held them down while at even strength.

• Seattle was playing without Scott Eansor and Mathew Wedman who are both injured. Eansor is listed day-to-day with a lower body injury while Wedman is out week-to-week, also with a lower body injury.

• With Barzal in their lineup the T-Birds are 12-2-2-0 this season. Barzal has 25 points in his 16 games with the T-Birds.

• Gropp had two assists on Tuesday to extend his point streak to five games.


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Thunderbirds take down Silvertips 3-1