Sports

T-Birds topple Chiefs again, 4-0 | WHL

For the Reporter

The Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Spokane Chiefs for the seventh time in seven meetings this season, winning 4-0 Friday night at the ShoWare Center.

The win puts Seattle eight points ahead of the Chiefs in the standings. T-Birds stand at 35-16-2-3 while Spokane is 31-18-3-2.

Taran Kozun started for Seattle and improved to 14-20-2-1. Kozun recorded his second straight shutout and third straight over Spokane, stopping all 35 shots. Kozun's record is now 9-1-0-0 with Seattle.

"I try and do the same thing for every game (and) take every team the same," Kozun said of his success against Spokane.

Eric Williams was in net for Spokane and took the loss to run his record to 26-12-2-1. He was relieved by Garret Hughson after Seattle's fourth goal, who stopped two shots.

In the second period, Mathew Barzal opened the scoring during the man advantage. The 16-year-old skated the puck up on his own, getting past the defense on the side boards and beating Williams from inside the faceoff circle to make it 1-0 at 6:29. Shea Theodore and Kozun had the assists after collecting the puck in the defensive zone and feeding it to Barzal.

The assist was Kozun's fourth point of the year, tops amongst all WHL goalies and one more than Williams for the Chiefs.

Kozun said that he "checks in on that every once in awhile" and was happy to find himself atop that statistic.

Once again, the power play paid dividends, giving the T-Birds a two-goal lead. Branden Troock deked from the blue line to the far side of the net before throwing it in front. The puck took a bounce off a Chief and went into the net at 12:14.

Still on the power play thanks to a delayed call just before Troock's goal, Seattle struck again. Barzal ripped a pass through the defense and across the offensive zone to a waiting Ryan Gropp, who fired the puck into the net before Williams could slide across. Hickman had the secondary assist at 13:07.

It was the third power-play goal of the night for the T-Birds.

"Specialty teams were huge" said coach Steve Konowalchuk, who noticed that the team was "working hard to get set up and shot some pucks" en route to their success.

Shots were even at 14 in the second, while faceoffs favored Seattle 13-11.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the second period's expiration put the home team a man down to start the third. Kozun had his work cut out for him at the beginning of this penalty kill, twice having to sprawl across the crease and search through a mass of bodies for the puck. Even so, the T-Birds kept the Chiefs from scoring despite six shots, leaving the score at 3-0.

Gropp made it 4-0 at 6:38 with his second of the night. The winger collected a pass and skated across the zone before calmly flipping a backhand shot over Williams' shoulder. Barzal and Jared Hauf had the assists.

Shots were 9-5 Spokane in the third period and faceoffs were 7-6 Spokane.

The T-Birds don't play again this weekend and will next play Monday against the Rockets in Kelowna at 2 p.m. Seattle's next home game is this upcoming Friday at 7:35 p.m. against the Tri-City Americans.

Tickets are available online at the T-Birds website 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 Sundaygame days at noon.

SCORING SUMMARY

First period - No scoring. Penalties - Theodore, Seattle (interference), 8:12. Hascic, Spokane (hooking), 14:04. Lipsbergs, Seattle (cross-checking),19:07.

Second period - 1, Seattle, Barzal 10 (Theodore, Kozun), 6:29 (pp). 2, Seattle, Troock 21 (Yakubowski, Henry), 12:14 (pp). 3, Seattle, Gropp 14 (Barzal, Hickman), 13:07 (pp). Penalties - Sozanski, Spokane (hooking),5:07. Gow, Spokane (roughing), 9:08. Chartier, Spokane (roughing), 9:08. Hickman, Seattle (roughing), 9:08. Barzal, Seattle (roughing), 9:08. Proft, Spokane (charging), 9:29. Proft, Spokane (major-fighting), 9:29. Lipsbergs, Seattle (instigator), 9:29. Lipsbergs, Seattle (major-fighting), 9:29. Lipsbergs, Seattle (10-minute misconduct), 9:29. Bobyk, Spokane (high-sticking), 10:59. Sozanski, Spokane (slashing), 12:14. Hickman, Seattle (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.

Third period - 4, Seattle, Gropp 15 (Barzal, Hauf), 6:38. Penalties - Troock, Seattle (tripping), 13:19. Proft, Spokane (roughing), 18:33. Proft, Spokane (major-fighting), 18:33. Whittingham, Spokane (major-fighting), 18:33. Yakubowski, Seattle (major-fighting), 18:33. Wardley, Seattle (major-fighting), 18:33. Wardley, Seattle (instigator), 18:33. Wardley, Seattle (game misconduct), 18:33. Elliot, Seattle (high-sticking), 18:45. Helewka, Spokane (interference), 19:38.

Shots on goal - Seattle 10-14-5 29, Spokane 12-14-9 35. Goalies - Seattle, Kozun 35 shots-35 saves (14-20-2-1); Spokane, Williams 27-23 (26-12-2-1), Hughson 2-2. Power plays - Seattle 3-4; Spokane 0-5. A - 3,957.Referees - Adam Griffiths, Jeff Ingram. Linesmen - Kevin Boris, Tim Digby.

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