The Thunderbirds’ Sami Moilanen, left, and the Americans’ Jordan Topping collide on the ice during season-opening WHL play Saturday night. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, T-Birds

Banner night for Thunderbirds

WHL champions open season with 4-3 victory over Tri-City

  • Sunday, September 24, 2017 10:16am
  • Sports

The Seattle Thunderbirds opened the Western Hockey League season with a 4-3 win over the Tri-City Americans in front of a sellout crowd of 6,104 at accesso ShoWare Center on Saturday night.

The T-Birds raised their WHL and Western Conference championship banners in a pre-game ceremony.

Sami Moilanen, Zack Andrusiak, Elijah Brown and Jake Lee scored for Seattle and Austin Strand had three assists.

Matt Berlin made 31 saves on 34 shots to get the win for the T-Birds.

Tri-City took a 1-0 lead on a five-on-three power-play goal by Jordan Topping at 5:47 of the first period.

The T-Birds came right back and tied the game 1-1 at 9:33 of the first period. Nolan Volcan brought the puck off the right boards and into the top of the right circle. Volcan took a slap shot that Moilanen tipped past Tri-City goalie Beck Warm.

Seattle went in front 2-1 at 10:41 of the first on a goal from Andrusiak. Donovan Neuls passed the puck from the left boards to Andrusiak in front of Warm. Andrusiak beat the goalie low for the tying goal. Strand had the second assist on the goal.

The Americans tied the game 2-2 at 17:38 of the first on Topping’s second goal of the game. The Americans took a 3-2 lead on a shorthanded goal by Parker AuCoin at 2:23 of the second period.

The T-Birds tied the game 3-3 at 7:01 of the second on Brown’s first goal of the season. Strand passed the puck to Brown on the left wing to create a two-on-one break. Brown skated into the left circle and beat Warm over the left shoulder with a hard wrist shot.

The T-Birds took a 4-3 lead 48 seconds into the third period on Lee’s first career goal as a T-Bird. Lee beat Warm from the right circle with a wrist shot while the teams were playing four-on-four. Strand and Neuls had the assists.

The Americans pulled Warm with a minute left in the game to try and tie the game. Berlin was up to the task and kept the Americans at bay.

Tri-City outshot Seattle 34-29 in the game.

Warm had 25 saves on 29 shots.

Next

The T-Birds hosts Prince George Cougars at 7:35 p.m. this Friday.

Single-game tickets for the 2017-18 season are on sale online and at the accesso ShoWare Center box office.

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

SCORING SUMMARY

First period – 1, Tri-City, Topping 1 (Geekie, Yaremko), 5:47. 2, Seattle, Moilanen 1 (Volcan), 9:33. 3, Seattle, Andrusiak 1 (Neuls, Strand), 10:41. 4, Tri-City, Topping 2 (Kalinichenko, Geekie), 17:38. Penalties – Coghlan, Tri (interference), :32. Bench, Sea (too many men-served by Katzalay), 2:50. Tyszka, Sea (hooking), 5:15. Fuller, Tri (roughing), 8:08.

Second period – 5, Tri-City, AuCoin 1, 2:33 (sh). 6, Seattle, Brown 1 (Strand), 7:01. Penalties – Coghlan, Tri (interference), 1:51. Volcan, Sea (roughing), 3:50. Neuls, Sea (roughing), 3:50. Sawchuk, Tri (roughing), 3:50. Fuller, Tri (roughing), 3:50. Lee, Sea (high-sticking), 11:14. Tyszka, Sea (hooking), 19:12.

Third period – 7, Seattle, Lee 1 (Strand, Neuls), :48. Penalties – McNelly, Sea (kneeing), 9:12. James, Tri (cross checking, roughing-served by Johnson), 12:01. Krebs, Tri (major-fighting), 12:01. Moilanen, Sea (major-fighting), 12:01. Volcan, Sea (roughing), 12:01. Coghlan, Tri (game misconduct), 20:00. Topping, Tri (double minor-roughing, game misconduct), 20:00. Yaremko, Tri (game misconduct), 20:00. Bargar, Sea (game misconduct), 20:00. Moilanen, Sea (game misconduct), 20:00. Tyszka, Sea (roughing, game misconduct), 20:00. Volcan, Sea (cross checking), 20:00.

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