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Thunderbirds down Chiefs, push win streak to 6 | WHL

The Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds' Justin Hickman darts up the ice with the puck with the Chiefs' Jackson Playfair in pursuit.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Thunderbirds, Brian Liesse

The Seattle Thunderbirds won their sixth straight game Saturday night, defeating the Spokane Chiefs 4-2 at the ShoWare Center in Kent.

The win moves Seattle's record to 18-9-1-3, good for fifth in the Western Conference and one point behind the fourth-place Victoria Royals. The Chiefs are now 18-12-0-2 and remain in sixth in the conference.

Danny Mumaugh started the game for the T-Birds, notching his eighth win after stopping 28 of 30 shots. His record is now 8-5-1-3. In net for Spokane was Eric Williams, whose loss brings his overall record to 15-8-0-1.

The T-Birds were able to attack early on thanks in part to a double minor on Spokane just two minutes into the game. Seattle's four-minute power play had two chances in the first minute, with one shot ringing off the post and another just kicked away by Williams. After three clearances by Spokane, the home team held the puck in the zone for the last minute of the power play but were still unable to score.

The penalty expired without any scoring, with Williams catching the final chance of the power play. Seattle had four shots during the four-minute advantage.

With the teams back at even strength, the Chiefs were able to take possession, though no shots resulted. Ethan Bear ended a possible Spokane breakaway with a well-timed hit, allowing Seattle to take back the puck.

The physicality began to flow from that point forward until Spokane was awarded a power play at 8:42. A faceoff win, the T-Birds' sixth of the game, kept the Chiefs from even attempting a shot. Spokane took a penalty to put an end to the power play halfway through, giving Seattle a man advantage after 52 seconds of 4-on-4. Bear once again broke up a possible breakaway just as the T-Birds' power play began.

Just as the power play ended, the T-Birds took the lead. Alexander Delnov ripped the puck past Williams in the slot after a feed from Shea Theodore. Adam Henry had the secondary assist after just barely keeping the puck onside. The goal was scored at 11:52, just two seconds after the power play's expiration.

Back at even strength, the home team had a few more offensive chances after three Spokane giveaways in their own zone. Other than the resulting shots, all of which were turned aside, neither team did much offensively in the latter half of the period. The Chiefs' first real possession came with two minutes remaining, but the four shots during that time were all stopped by Mumaugh.

Branden Troock had a breakaway with 30 seconds remaining in the first when a blocked Spokane shot rebounded onto his stick. While he was unable to score, the T-Birds had a continued barrage in the period's waning moments.

With the score 1-0 Seattle after one, the team's went to the locker rooms tied in shots at 10. Seattle also won 10 of 16 faceoffs in the period.

Danger mounted early for the T-Birds, who were forced to go a man down 30 seconds into the second period. Once again, the penalty kill held strong, as Spokane had their first shot a minute into their advantage. Jaimen Yakubowski drew a penalty with 16 seconds left in the power play to end the Chiefs' attack and give Seattle a 1:44 of 5-on-4.

The third power play of the game for the home team threatened on a few occasions, but ended with the score still 1-0 Seattle.

Unfortunately for the T-Birds, Spokane was given another power play when Seattle played the puck with too many men on the ice. Only one shot made it on goal for Spokane, who had one other blocked away by Scott Eansor.

After returning to even-strength hockey for the first extended stretch of the period, the game slowed as both teams were stopped by offside calls. An odd-man rush for the T-Birds came at the 11 minute mark and resulted in their second shot on goal of the period. Spokane had five shots on goal in the same nine minute span to begin the second.

Mumaugh was made to work to keep the lead not long after, diving about the crease to keep out multiple Chief chances. The added energy from the stops pushed Seattle forward on the way to a handful of rushes stopped by Spokane. Even so, the visitors kept on the offensive throughout the period.

Pressure paid off for Spokane in the way of another power play, their fourth of the game, coming at 15:32. Seattle took a second penalty during the shorthanded stretch to give the Chiefs 59 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey. A clearance with 18 seconds left on the first penalty ended the first power play, only to have Spokane score as Seattle left the box to tie the game. Mitch Holmberg had the power-play goal, his WHL-leading 33rd of the season at 17:36.

Another penalty on Seattle came just 40 seconds later. The sixth Spokane man advantage of the night went scoreless into the second intermission and entered the third period with 15 seconds left.

Shots in the second period were 15-4 Spokane and faceoffs were tied at nine wins apiece. The score was deadlocked at 1-1 entering the last period of regulation.

An Eansor faceoff win, one of his 11 in the game, and subsequent break down the ice ended Spokane's power play. Subsequently, Seattle's offense took hold of the puck for a minute and a half. The opportunities gave the T-Birds the lead at 2:10. Bear beat the Spokane goaltender, blasting a slap shot through Williams' five-hole to take the lead. The assists went to Henry and Troock, both of whom have seven points in the first three games of December.

Opportunities continued to mount for the home team. A charging call went against the Chiefs for Seattle's fifth power play at 3:42. Despite the man advantage in favor of the T-Birds, the home team lost the lead. Spokane's Connor Chartier scored shorthanded at the 5:05 mark on a rush to make the game 2-2. Adam Helewka had the only assist.

While they were unable to score on their first power play of the period, Seattle was given a second halfway through. A bit of nifty skating by Theodore, followed by a deke by Ryan Gropp, put the T-Birds in front once again at 10:20. Gropp had the power-play goal on a backhand shot from between the faceoff dots. Theodore had the only assist.

A game filled to the brim with power plays had another entry, this time in Spokane's favor. The Chiefs had their seventh man advantage with five minutes remaining in the third period. Sam McKechnie had what appeared to be a shorthanded goal after stealing the puck in the neutral zone, only to see it waved off after review. The penalty kill still held strong and Spokane has unable to record a shot before the penalty expired.

Williams left the net for the visitors with 1:49 left in the game before an offensive zone faceoff. Yakubowski narrowly missed a full-ice empty-net goal that instead ended with an icing call. After Seattle cleared the puck out of the zone twice more, Yakubowski was given another chance. This time, the winger converted to make the score 4-2 with 30 seconds left. The goal was assisted by Eansor.

In the third period, Seattle outshot Spokane 8-5 and won nine of 16 faceoffs en route to their 4-2 win.

Seattle plays at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Tri-City. The next home game for the T-Birds is Friday against the Portland Winterhawks at 7:35 p.m.

Tickets

Game tickets are available online at tickets.seattlethunderbirds.com and at the ShoWare Center box office. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday game days at 10 a.m. and Sunday game days at noon.

Season tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.

SCORING SUMMARY

First period - 1, Seattle, Delnov 15 (Theodore, Henry), 11:52. Penalties - Aviani, Spokane (double minor-spearing), 1:55. Eansor, Seattle (clipping), 8:42. Aviani, Spokane (checking from behind), 9:50. Hauf, Seattle (major-fighting), 14:37. Playfair, Spokane (major-fighting), 14:37.

Second period - 2, Spokane, Holmberg 33 (Bobyk, Fram), 17:36, (pp). Penalties - Hickman, Seattle (unsportsmanlike conduct), :33. Proft, Spokane (holding), 2:18. Bench, Seattle (too many men-served by Lipsbergs), 5:19. Hickman, Seattle (holding opponent's stick), 15:32. Hauf, Seattle (checking from behind), 16:34. Delnov, Seattle (cross-checking), 18:15.

Third period - 3, Seattle, Bear 3 (Henry, Troock), 2:10. 4, Spokane, Chartier 6 (Helewka), 5:05 (sh). 5, Seattle, Gropp 4 (Theodore), 10:20 (pp). 6, Seattle, Yakubowski 5 (Eansor), 19:29 (en). Penalties - Hascic, Spokane (charging), 3:42. Helewka, Spokane (roughing), 8:54. Wardley, Seattle (roughing), 14:13.

Shots on goal - Seattle 10-4-8 22, Spokane 10-15-5 30. Goalies - Seattle, Mumaugh 30 shots-28 saves (8-5-1-3); Spokane, Williams 21-18 (15-8-0-1). Power plays - Seattle 1-6; Spokane 1-7. A - 3,709. Referees - Tyler Adair, Colin Watt. Linesmen - Kevin Boris, Justin Hull.

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