Ethan Bear’s hat trick leads T-Birds past Spokane 5-1

Dec 11, 2015, 11:43 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2015, 11:09 am
Jamal Watson congratulates Ethan Bear on his hat trick in Seattle’s 5-1 win over Spokane. (T-...
Jamal Watson congratulates Ethan Bear on his hat trick in Seattle's 5-1 win over Spokane. (T-Birds photo)
(T-Birds photo)

KENT – After two tough losses to Spokane in the last week, the Thunderbirds were able to get one back on Friday night.

With Mathew Barzal out of the lineup the T-Birds needed some of their other stars to step up. None did so more than defenseman Ethan Bear.

The Edmonton Oilers prospect notched his first WHL career hat trick to lead Seattle (18-9-2-0) to a much-needed 5-1 victory over a Chiefs team that was chasing them down in the standings.

Seattle exacted a small measure of revenge for the two losses in Spokane (16-11-2-1) this week.

“We certainly wanted to stop the bleeding against that team a little bit,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “With three games against these guys, they’re breathing down our neck. The focus was right there and we needed these two points.”

Secondary scoring is going to be huge while Barzal, and after the weekend Scott Eansor and Alexander True, are gone for the World Juniors. Friday night, the rest of the team chipped in.

Along with Bear’s hat trick, Keegan Kolesar had a strong night with a goal and two assists, as did Jamal Watson who potted his third goal in two nights.

“I feel like things are rolling a little better,” Watson said. “Shooting pucks that are getting through, taking pucks to the net hard. Steve wants me going to the net hard as I can, that’s how you’re going to score goals. Right now I feel like I’m in a little bit of a groove before the break.”

Along with Watson and Kolesar, Ryan Gropp also chipped in with two assists.

But the star of the night was Bear.

He got Seattle going in the first period when he blasted a slap shot from the point on a T-Birds power play. Spokane goalie Tyson Verhelst had shut down the T-Birds in the two previous games, but he barely moved as the puck beat him.

After Watson’s goal to give Seattle a 2-0 lead in the second period, Bear struck again on a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play started by True who fed Kolesar. Kolesar quickly slid the puck to a pinching Bear and he buried it.

With the game out of reach at 4-1 Bear completed the hat trick when he was left all alone at the point where he walked in an fired a deadly accurate wrist shot over Verhelst’s shoulder.The four-point night gives Bear 33 points on the season and he becomes the leading scorer among defensemen in the WHL.

“I’m obviously getting more of an opportunity,” the always humble Bear said. “I’m pretty confident out there, take your pick on when to do stuff.”

Seattle did good stuff throughout the game. They were the more physical team right from the start and carried the play all night long. For the second straight game, they out shot Spokane — this time 38-26 — and the game was never really in doubt.

The major difference between Friday’s win and Wednesday’s loss was that Seattle scored twice on the power play and did not suffer any odd man rushes the other way. Goalie Logan Flodell made some big stops early and went on to make 25 saves to pick up his 10th win.

Konowalchuk had to mash up his lines with Barzal out and was able to get four lines on the ice on a regular basis and all contributed.

“I was able to keep them in,” the coach said of his lines. “They’re a team that likes to play four lines as well so we were able to keep the four lines going. Scotty’s (Eansor) line did a heck of a job against one of the better offensive guys in the league.”

Eansor was matched up with Spokane’s Adam Helewka, who has been on a tear and already has potted four goals against Seattle. Friday night he was held off the score sheet all together.

The win moved Seattle to three points ahead of Spokane for the top spot in the U.S. Division, but more importantly it stemmed the tide of two straight losses to a division rival.

“It was a good game by our guys,” Konowalchuk said. “Some guys had more minutes and they played well. They all had a job to do and they did it.”

Seattle is right back in action on Saturday night as the Everett Silvertips make their first visit to the ShoWare Center this season.

Notes

• The four-point night for Bear was a career-high.

• Seattle will have Eansor and True for Saturday’s game but then they will both leave for their respective junior camps. “A lot of guys are stepping up,” Bear said about being short-handed. “With a few key guys leaving its going to be hard for us to win games but we have guys who need to step in and work hard when they get the chance.”

• The T-Birds are now 2-1-1-0 without Barzal in the lineup.

• Newly-signed Luke Ormsby was a healthy scratch Friday night but is expected to get some game action while Eansor and True are gone.

Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.

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