T-Birds rout Saskatoon 6-2 to end road trip
By Andrew Eide
The Seattle Thunderbirds skated into the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon Saturday night looking to reverse the tide on their six game road trip. They came into the game with a 1-5-0-0 record on the road trip but felt that they had played better than those outcomes showed. Saturday night they built an early lead and then erupted for four goals in the third period to beat the Saskatoon Blades going away, 6-2.
“It was good,” Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk said after. “Pretty solid game, we finally got it going right, other than a brief moment in the second I thought it was 50 minutes of solid hockey.”
In the last three losses the T-Birds found themselves trailing in the first period and Saturday night they made sure that was not going to happen again. On the power play Shea Theodore got the puck up high with space and time and ripped a nice wrist shot that beat Blades goalie Andrey Makarov.
Seattle was finally playing with a lead on this trip and before the end of the period they extended the lead. On the power play again Riley Sheen took the puck into the zone along the boards and spotted Seth Swenson open in the slot. Sheen got the puck to him and Swenson buried it behind Makarov for his sixth goal of the year and the second power play goal of the period.
With the struggles of the last three games, there seemed to be some relief to be ahead for a change.
“I’m sure there was,” Konowalchuk said. “You know when you’ve played well and get behind you can start to think ‘here we go again’ – there was a lot of good things tonight.”
The T-Birds faced a bit of a push back from the Blades at the end of the second period as they were able to get a lot of pucks on Brandon Glover and cashed in late on somewhat of a fluky goal. Two Saskatoon players rushed in and Matt Revel tried to center a pass that hit Seattle’s Jesse Forsberg who was diving back to try to break up the play. The puck hit him and past Glover with just under two minutes left in the period.
With the way the road trip had been going it was hard not to think that the late goal was a bad omen of what might happen in the third period.
The T-Birds were determined to get the two points however and got their two goal lead back 3:47 into the third when Roberts Lipsbergs wheeled around the Blades net and beat Makarov with a nice shot. Conner Sanvido then added a goal 37 seconds later with his fifth goal of the season. That gave Seattle a 4-1 lead and was the end of the night for Makarov who was replaced by Alex Moodie.
Moodie was rudely welcomed seven seconds later Alex Delnov beat him for Seattle’s fifth goal of the night. The T-Birds scored three goals in a 42 second span and the game was essentially decided.
The line centered by Alex Delnov (flanked by Connor Honey and Lipsbergs) were strong all night and were a big part of the third period explosion. All night long they were getting chances and controlling the play when they were on the ice and even though they did not score until the third their play was big.
“It was really big,” Konowalchuk said. “Hopefully they can build on that. Delnov, he took it to a whole other level of competing tonight. He was competing, making plays, they were completing checks and it was good that they scored.”
Seattle’s record improves to 9-10-1-0 as they now have a week off before taking on Medicine Hat at the ShoWare Center next Friday.
Game Notes –
Seattle was strong again on the power play going 2-for-5 and they are third in the WHL. The affect that has on the game is critical as other teams have to be careful how aggressively they play the T-Birds. “It can take what they do out of the game sometimes,” Konowalchuk said. “If teams want to run at us we’ll take it, take the power play. As we move on I’m sure other teams game plan will be to stay out of the box against us which means they can’t go as aggressive at us.”
The WHL scorekeepers were at it again. Connor Honey scored Seattle’s sixth goal of the night but the scorekeepers have awarded it to Delnov. Look for that to be changed sometime soon.
Seattle is at its best when they are getting scoring up and down the lineup. Saturday’s six goals were scored by six different players and one of the reasons they were so good on the night.
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide