T-Birds take out Kelowna 4-2
Seattle’s Roberts Lipsbergs comes close to scoring his 12th goal (photo courtesy of Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT – The Seattle Thunderbirds took on a Kelowna Rockets club that has been red hot of late and beat them 4-2 at the ShoWare Center Saturday night. Seattle (13-13-1-0) built a two-goal lead in the first period and got a big goal from Shea Theodore in the third to break a tie for the win. They ended Kelowna’s (17-9-1-1) five game winning streak with the win.
The T-Birds jumped out to lead in the first on a nice goal scored by Seth Swenson. He was set up by Connor Sanvido who waited patiently as the Kelowna defenseman went down before passing the puck for the goal.
“I saw Swenson on my side,” Sanvido said. “I saw the D-Man go down so I decided to go around him and give Swenson a chance to score so it worked out great.”
Seattle got a second goal, on the power play, three minutes later from Roberts Lipsbergs who scored from the slot. It was Lipsbergs 11th of the season and extended his point streak to eight games as he continues to be the T-Birds hottest player. Seattle withstood three Kelowna power plays in the first period, including 40 seconds of a two-man advantage, and got stellar penalty killing to preserve their lead.
“Everyone had some gritty efforts there on the PK,” goalie Brandon Glover said of the special teams. “That’s what it takes to win, we won the special teams battle and that was the difference.”
Seattle killed off five Portland power plays Friday night and turned in a repeat performance against five Kelowna power plays Saturday.
“It (the penalty kill) was huge,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “Our guys were playing with a ton of energy and a lot of passion, they’re jumping those pucks and making those guys hurry their plays and it was a huge part of the game.”
The second period featured both teams trading shots and a few good chances, it was an evenly played period until Kelowna cashed in with 52 seconds left as Rourke Chartier deflected a Damon Severson point shot past Glover. Seattle entered the third period in hang on mode with a slim one-goal lead. Kelowna started the third with the better play, pushing Seattle and controlling the puck for the most part. They finally got the tying goal 13:09 into the period as Myles Bell crashed the net hard and banged a puck past the Seattle goalie.
Seattle has been getting timely goal scoring all year and got it again Saturday. Just over a minute after the tying goal Seattle defenseman Shea Theodore got the puck at the point and fired a slap shot past Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle.
“When they scored, on the bench I thought we were a little flat,” Konowalchuk said. “But they came out on the ice and did a good job. We weren’t forechecking enough on the game, and we have to be a strong forechecking team, we were allowing them to come at us again and after they tied it we got our forecheck going again and created the goal.”
With a one goal lead Seattle got a couple of scares as Kelowna got a power play and twice came close to scoring. First Brandon Glover made a terrific save on a Rockets player out in front. He flashed his left pad out just in time to stop the puck and to preserve the lead. Seconds later a Kelowna shot got through Glover and dangled ever so close to the end line, for what seemed like a minute, before defenseman Jared Hauf flicked it to safety.
“I sort of felt it squeeze through my legs,” Glover said of the close call. “My first reaction was to look back but Jared had already got there. He did a good job and I definitely thanked him.”
The T-Birds got an insurance tally a couple of minutes later when Sanvido again made a nice pass, this time to Brendan Rouse who cashed in on his fifth goal of the season.
“It was a good win,” Konowalchuk said. “That’s a good hockey club over there and they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now and they make you play for every inch. I thought at times we could have been a little better in that area but we got the win and it was a good hockey game.”
Seattle is back at in Sunday evening as the Kamloops Blazers come back to the ShoWare Center, face off is at 5 PM.
Tyler Alos is being shut down for the season due to a head injury he suffered earlier in the season. He is symptom free but the team is taking precautionary steps to prevent further issues. It’s a big loss for Seattle as Alos is one of those ‘do everything’ type guys that every team needs, but his health comes first and is the reason for the move.
Captain Luke Lockhart played in his 300th WHL game Saturday night. All 300 have been with the Thunderbirds and picked up an assist for his 136th point for the club.
With back up goalie Justin Myles still not available, Brandon Glover will get the call Sunday for his third game in as many nights.
Here are your highlites from the game: