T-Birds cool off Winterhawks, 4-1 | WHL

The Thunderbirds’ Keegan Kolesar, right, and the Winterhawks’ Brendan Leipsic battle for the puck. - Courtesy photo/Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds’ Keegan Kolesar, right, and the Winterhawks’ Brendan Leipsic battle for the puck.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Thunderbirds

For the Reporter

The Seattle Thunderbirds defeated rival Portland 4-1 Friday night at the ShoWare Center, snapping the Winterhawks' 21-game winning streak.

Seattle improved to 39-19-2-4 on the season. Portland is 47-13-2-3.

"When we play 60 minutes of hockey nobody can beat us," said captain Justin Hickman, a sentiment echoed by the rest of the team.

Taran Kozun, making his 47th appearance of the year and 18th for Seattle, stopped 41 of 42 shots and got his 18th win of the season. Kozun relished the opportunity to face Portland.

"I like playing them ... rivalry games are the best, the crowd gets into it," Kozun said.

Corbin Boes stopped 31 shots, taking the loss to make his record 17-25-2-3.

Down 1-0 in the first period, the T-Birds responded when Shea Theodore blasted home a slap shot from the point that blew past Boes at 6:55 on a power play. It was Theodore's 18th goal of the season and came on assists from Adam Henry and Ryan Gropp.

The T-Birds struck again at 11:26. Alexander Delnov slapped the puck away from a Portland defender on the forecheck, only to have it dribble through Boes' pads. The goal was unassisted and made it 2-1.

Hickman widened the gap to two goals at 16:32 of the second period. Russell Maxwell got the puck to Jaimen Yakubowski deep in the zone, where the winger fed it across to Hickman. The captain was able to calmly tap it into the net inches away from the crease to make it 3-1.

"(It) was a nice passing play by those guys" said Hickman, crediting his line mates for the goal.

Branden Troock scored on a breakaway to make the game 4-1 with just 7:20 remaining. The winger tipped a pass from Roberts Lipsbergs away from Portland while on defense, then beat the defenders back to get a 1-on-1 chance. Troock buried it for his 22nd goal of the year, with Lipsbergs getting the only assist.

An odd play came not much later during Portland's fourth power play. The Winterhawks had a shot from inside the faceoff dot that disappeared into Kozun's pads. The Portland players celebrated, thinking the puck had gone in, only to have Kozun skate away with the puck in his glove. A review followed, confirming the original no-goal call.

"Nobody knew where it went," Kozun said about the oddity, relishing the rest that came as a "good little break for me."

'Tips on tap for today

The T-Birds host the Everett Silvertips at 5:05 p.m. at the ShoWare Center. After that, Seattle will take on the Winterhawks next Friday in Portland at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available online at the T-Birds website at 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.


First period - 1, Portland, De Leo 36 (Leier, Bjorkstrand), 2:43. 2, Seattle, Theodore 18 (Henry, Gropp), 6:55 (pp). 3, Seattle, Delnov 27 (unassisted),11:16. Penalties - Petan, Portland (high-sticking), 5:29. Cederholm, Portland (interference), 6:45. Hickman, Seattle (elbowing), 17:43.

Second period - 4, Seattle, Hickman 21 (Yakubowski, Maxwell), 16:32.Penalties - Hickman, Seattle (roughing), 7:33. Leipsic, Portland (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:33. Smith, Seattle (interference), 8:49. Petan, Portland (slashing), 8:54. Hauf, Seattle (high-sticking), 8:54. Leier, Portland (slashing), 18:19.

Third period - 5, Seattle, Troock 22 (Lipsbergs), 12:40. Penalties - Delnov, Seattle (slashing), 2:32. Leipsic, Portland (high-sticking), 3:10. Leipsic, Portland (hooking), 8:26. Smith, Seattle (checking to the head), 13:41. Gropp, Seattle (holding), 16:18.

Shots on goal - Seattle 16-11-8 35, Portland 12-16-14 42. Goalies - Seattle, Kozun 42 shots-41 saves (18-23-2-2); Portland, Boes 35-31 (17-25-2-3).Power plays - Seattle 1-5; Portland 0-5. A - 6,031. Referees - Jeff Ingram, Sean Raphael. Linesmen - Ryan Gibbons, Ron Dietterle.

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