Thunderbirds tame Tips in 6-1 rout
KENT – What was billed to be a tight-checking, high-stakes game between the two top teams in the U.S. Division turned out to be anything but Sunday.
The Seattle Thunderbirds beat the first place Everett Silvertips 6-1 at the ShoWare Center in a game that they were in control of from the outset.
Seattle (40-18-3-2) won it’s 14th straight at home and got four more points from Mathew Barzal who picked up a goal and three assists. The T-Birds were once again dangerous on the power play where they converted on three of their five chances.
“We know they’re one of the top teams in the league,” Barzal said. “We’re pretty confident at home and they’re coming off a good stretch. Good team effort, down a couple of guys at the end and just a good team win.”
Barzal was good again, while both Ryan Gropp and Keegan Kolesar found the back of the net. But on Sunday, Seattle also got goals from guys like Anthony Bishop, Luke Ormsby and Elijah Brown.
“Different guys stepping up,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “You can’t say enough about Barzy and his line on the power play. Other guys stepping up. Bishop, what a goal and what a game, that’s a good job for him. I’m sure it’s a good feeling for him.”
After a flurry of penalties early in the first period, the T-Birds got going first when Kolesar scored during a brief two-man advantage. He got the puck to Carter Hart’s right and fired a shot from a tight angle that found the back of the net.
It was Kolesar’s 22nd of the season and was the 12th straight game that Seattle has scored at least one power-play goal.
The T-Birds continued to pour it on in the first period.
Tyler Adams stole the puck from Hart on a strong forecheck and the T-Birds worked it in front to Luke Ormsby who scored his 6th of the season. Seattle tilted the ice the rest of the way and Anthony Bishop would score late in the period to give the Thunderbirds a 3-0 lead. It was Bishop’s first WHL career goal and he potted it from the slot.
“It’s obviously a good feeling,” Bishop said. “I saw where I wanted to put it and I really didn’t know what was happening after that. It was a pretty happy moment.”
Bishop has been asked to play many different roles for Seattle since being traded early in the year from Saskatoon. A defenseman by trade, he’s had to step and play forward a lot, due to Seattle’s many injuries.
Sunday he was back on the blue line, a spot that he prefers.
“I’m more comfortable there,” he said. “I’ve been playing D since Atoms. To play forward in this league is tough but I feel like I can do it. Anything to help to the team win.”
Barzal and his line have been carrying the Thunderbirds offensively, and they were excited to see Bishop pot one.
“It’s great,” Barzal said. “Bishop scores there and it kind of motivates everybody. He hadn’t scored in a while so for him to get one was huge, it was electric on the bench.”
When the ice settled after 20 minutes, Seattle had a three-goal lead and had outshot the Silvertips 12-4.
Everett (38-13-8-2) would start Mario Petit in net to start the second period but it was more of the same as the T-Bird big guns came alive.
Barzal made a nice cross-ice pass to Gropp on the power play and the winger didn’t miss for his 29th of the year.
The Silvertips struck when Dewar stole the puck from Barzal while short-handed and was able to get one past Rylan Toth. Barzal would make up for that turnover a minute later when he deked his way past a couple of Silvertips penalty killers and fire a shot for his ninth goal of the season.
Known for his play-making ability, Barzal showed that he can shoot the puck as well.
“Its an accurate shot, no doubt about it,” Konowalchuk said. “He’s always got his head up and he kind of knows what the goalie’s doing. He does it more with accuracy and hockey sense than he does by blowing it by.”
The Barzal goal made it 5-1 and Elijah Brown would finish off the scoring with his third goal of the year late.
With the win, Seattle moves to one point behind Everett for the top spot in the U.S. Division and clinched a playoff spot. With nine games left in the season, the stretch run is heating up.
“I didn’t even mention it to the guys,” Konowalchuk said about clinching a post season slot. “At this point we figured we would, but you never take that for granted. It’s a long season and you never know what can happen. We’ll take this game and we’ll play the next game.”
• Ethan Bear had two assists on Sunday to extend his scoring streak to 12 games but left in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Konowalchuk did not have an update after the game.
• Seattle has now won five of the last six contests against Everett and the two teams will play two more final regular season match ups with the first coming next Saturday in Everett.
• Konowalchuk is now one win away from tying former T-Birds coach Don Nachbaur for second in the franchise history with wins by a coach.
• While Seattle was strong on the power play, they also killed off all four Everett power-play chances.