Sports

Blazers burn Thunderbirds in shootout | WHL

For the Reporter

The Seattle Thunderbirds dropped a dramatic 3-2 shootout to Kamloops at the ShoWare Center on Saturday night.

Seattle falls to 37-19-2-4 but holds a six-point lead over Spokane for the fourth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Blazers are now 13-44-2-3.

Each team had one of their first three shooters score in the shootout, forcing it to move to an extra round. After Seattle was stopped in the fourth round, Matt Bellerive scored for Kamloops to end the game.

Overtime opened with a shot by the Blazers, the only one in the first minute. Much like the third period, there were a handful of chances, mostly for Seattle, but no one was able to put one away and break the deadlock, sending the game to a shootout.

The T-Birds' Jerret Smith rang the puck off the crossbar as overtime ended, the closest chance of the extra time.

Taran Kozun started for the T-Birds and stopped 28 of 30 shots as well as three of the five shooters in the shootout. Kozun's record is now 16-23-2-2 on the season.

Bolton Pouliot started the game for Kamloops, but left the game after a collision in the first period. Pouliot stopped three of four shots before being replaced by Cole Kehler, who was the goalie of record and got the win, his first in the WHL. Kehler stopped 33 of 34 shots.

Shea Theodore scored on Seattle's third shot of the night, coming at 6:14. Branden Troock won the puck along the end boards and threw it back out to the point, where Smith worked it across the blue line to his partner. Theodore's slap shot made its way through plenty of traffic to make it 1-0.

A turnover by Seattle's defensemen deep in their own zone tied the game. The Blazers' Collin Shirley intercepted an outlet pass and immediately rocketed it into the net at 15:35.

Back on the power play, the Blazers took their first lead of the game at 15:51. Cole Ully threw the puck in front, where it deflected off a Seattle player and in. There were no assists on the goal, making it two straight unassisted goals for the visitors after falling behind early.

The home team took its third penalty with 1:15 left in the first period. Shots were 12-12 in a period that saw Kamloops head to the locker room up 2-1.

Delnov rifles equalizer

Delnov tied the game back up on the man advantage at 5:01 of the second period. After a series of passes worked the puck around the zone from Delnov to Adam Henry to Ethan Bear and back again, Delnov ripped the puck past Kehler to make it 2-2.

Seattle was revitalized by the goal and controlled the puck for upwards of two minutes. Kehler was sent sprawling multiple times before Kamloops could finally clear it away and change lines. The T-Birds had another attack but were penalized, giving Kamloops its fourth power play of the night. It was the first bit of dangerous offense from the visitors in the period, who were stopped at every turn by Kozun.

Even-strength hockey helped Seattle get on the offensive. Chances began to pile up for the home team, who had several near misses, including a 2-on-1 chance that ended with a Justin Hickman shot just barely fought off and covered by Kehler. The T-Birds kept at it until the next stoppage came with five minutes remaining. Kamloops found some breathing room at this point and forced Kozun to make two more saves off shots from the high slot.

The Blazers controlled the pace of hockey for the last few minutes, but no more goals came in the second. The period ended tied 2-2, with the visitors outshooting Seattle 12-6.

A power play and early pressure helped the T-Birds even up the shot totals with six shots in the first seven minutes. Otherwise, the game was mired down in possession battles, giving neither team many chances to score.

A giveaway in front of the net by Kamloops almost gave Seattle the lead, but Kehler was able to react in time and cover up. The Blazers didn't record a shot on goal until 11:13, though the T-Birds could not capitalize on any of their chances.

Kehler continued to stop the T-Birds in the third, ending up with 16 saves in that period alone. Kozun only faced two shots in the third period and stopped both. Neither team could create enough offense to get the go-ahead goal, sending the game to overtime.

Next up: Raiders on Tuesday

Seattle stays at home all this week, starting with a game against the Prince Albert Raiders at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. The T-Birds then face off against the Portland Winterhawks at 7:05 p.m. Saturday and the Everett Silvertips at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are available online at the T-Birds website 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.

SCORING SUMMARY

First period - 1, Seattle, Theodore 17 (Smith, Troock), 6:14. 2, Kamloops, Shirley 12 (unassisted), 15:35. 3, Kamloops, Ully 29 (unassisted), 15:51(pp). Penalties - Barzal, Seattle (high-sticking), 1:55. Grist, Kamloops (roughing), 7:03. Rehill, Kamloops (tripping), 13:05. Barzal, Seattle (interference), 15:44. Delnov, Seattle (tripping), 18:45.

Second period - 4, Seattle, Delnov 25 (Bear, Henry), 5:01 (pp). Penalties -Rehill, Kamloops (holding), 3:18. Barzal, Seattle (tripping), 7:55.

Third period - No scoring. Penalties - Grist, Kamloops (roughing), :31.

Overtime - No scoring. Penalties - No penalties.

Shootout - Seattle 1 (Barzal NG, Theodore NG, Troock G, McKechnie NG). Kamloops 2 (Shirley NG, Shynkaruk G, Ully NG, Bellerive G).

Shots on goal - Seattle 12-6-16-4 38, Kamloops 12-12-2-4 31. Goalies -Seattle, Kozun 30 shots- 28 saves (16-23-2-2); Kamloops, Pouliot 4-3, Kehler 34-33 (1-3-0-0). Power plays - Seattle 1-4; Kamloops 1-4. A - 5,080. Referees - Fraser Lawrence, Curtis Marouelli. Linesmen - Zach Brooks, Bevan Mills.

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