T-Birds return home to beat Medicine Hat 4-3
Seattle’s Alex Delnov was a force on Friday night (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT, Wash -The Seattle Thunderbirds returned home to the ShoWare Center Friday night to take on the Medicine Hat Tigers and skated away with a well played 4-3 victory. They got two goals from Alex Delnov, one of them of the highlight variety, and held off the Tigers in an entertaining game. The two teams both had 37 shots on goal and Seattle survived a nice night by top prospect Hunter Shinkaruk who scored twice for the Tigers.
There were many good performances from the T-Birds but Delnov was the main attraction. He added an assist to his two goals and was dangerous all night.
“Definitely a good player,” Teammate Shea Theodore said of Delnov. “He got called up for the Subway Super Series for Team Russia which I think helped his confidence a bit and he dominated tonight.”
Dominant is a good way to describe Delnov’s game of late. Not only did he chip in with three points he drew a penalty with a nice move and was a couple of punches away from a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
“We won,” Delnov said. “I thank my partners, my line, helped me scored two goals, we scored three in the game.”
Down a goal heading into the second period Seattle (10-10-1-0) got even on Seth Swenson’s seventh goal of the year as he waited for Connor Sanvido to screen Medicine Hat’s goalie, Cam Lanigan, before firing a wrist shot. Seattle then took the lead on the first pretty Delnov goal of the evening. It was late on a Seattle power play and after a scramble play he picked up the puck, made a nice move and buried a top-shelf shot. Seattle’s league leading power play was 1-for-4 on the night.
Medicine Hat (11-11-1-0) has some big time scorers and perhaps the best is Hunter Shinkaruk. He got the Tigers even early in the third period with a power play goal, his 16th of the season, and just like that the game was even again.
That’s when Delnov turned in one of the best goals of the season. Taking the puck at center ice he blew into the Medicine Hat zone, past two or three defenders and with a player draped on his shoulder he one handed the puck past Lanigan. The ShoWare Center crowd of 4,224 erupted in one of the loudest moments of the season.
“Oh, he’s played really good,” Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “This game, his last game in Saskatoon, he’s been the best player on the ice. He’s really working on the areas he needs to, away from the puck and battling but you know that’s the talent he can bring. He can make something out of nothing and he had a huge game for us.”
With a 3-2 lead Seattle got some big saves from Goalie Brandon Glover but Shinkaruk struck again with about six minutes left in the game with a shot from the slot that hand-cuffed Glover a bit and squeaked in. It looked like the game might be destined for overtime but Delnov’s line got the lead back a minute later.
Delnov made a nice pass to Connor Honey whose shot was stopped by Lanigan but he could not control the rebound, Roberts Lipsbergs could though and buried his fourth goal of the season. After that it was hang on time as the Tigers got a late power play and the T-Birds got a big penalty kill which was back-stopped nicely by Glover.
“It was a pretty solid game and we were resilient there,” Konowalchuk said. “Their power play gave us fits but I thought we got some timely goals and I thought we deserved the win but both teams played hard.”
After a tough long road trip the Thunderbirds enjoyed a loud and enthusiastic crowd and now get to enjoy four more games at home.
“It feels great,” Theodore said. “Especially after half the guys were sick at the end of the trip there. It was good to get that win in Saskatoon and get home to rest and a big win tonight.”
Seattle continues their home stand Saturday night as they take on the Spokane Chiefs at the ShoWare Center at 7 pm.
Game Notes –
The T-Birds continue to show that they are a resilient group, whether it’s within a game or bouncing back from a tough road trip. Konowalchuk credits the make up of the guys on the team, “It’s a little bit of a maturity, but I like the feel in the locker room, they expect to win and keep going, ” he said.
This game featured the return of former T-Birds crowd favorite Jacob Doty. Doty did not stand out in the game but the players enjoyed seeing their former teammate. “It was fun, having him here for the past two years we got to know him really well, it was good to see him,” Theodore said.
It’s been a big week for Delnov who got to play for his home country Wednesday. “I didn’t get a lot of shifts,” Delnov said of playing for Russia this week. “It was good, the Russian coach said keep working and maybe I can play for Russia in the World Juniors.”
The game was also a chance for Riley Sheen to play against the team that traded him to Seattle. He had a solid game with a couple of chances and while he did not get a goal he did pick up an assist, and more importantly, got the win.