Six different players scored a goal as the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Portland Winterhawks 6-5 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in a regular-season game for both Western Hockey League teams Sunday.
The playoff-bound T-Birds swept the weekend series, beating the Winterhawks 5-2 on Kent ice Saturday night.
The T-Birds (31-29-6-2) have won six of their last seven games and 20 of 34 games in the second half of the season.
Seattle goalie Cole Schwebius was very good in net against Portland, making 39 saves. Schwebius stopped Portland’s leading scorer, Joachim Blichfeld, one-on-one, 2:50 into the second period, with a sprawling blocker save that kept the T-Birds, who were trailing at that point, within a goal of Portland.
The T-Birds did not dress Matthew Wedman, Noah Philp and Nolan Volcan, their top three scorers, for the game. It did not matter as the T-Birds got contributions from up and down the lineup to defeat the Winterhawks.
Portland took a 2-0 lead early in the first period on goals from Reece Newkirk at 1:47 and Jake Gricius at 5:35.
Seattle came right back and took a 3-2 lead with three goals in 4:42.
Graeme Bryks had the puck on the left boards and threw it on net. Portland goalie Joel Hofer made the save, but Jared Davidson was at the left post to sneak the rebound past the goalie at 10:32 for his second goal of the season.
Kai Uchacz scored his first career goal, at 13:03 of the first, to tie the game 2-2. Henrik Rybinski had the puck on the left wall and found Payton Mount all alone in front of Hofer. Mount was stopped on an attempt by Hofer’s right pad, but Uchacz came in and cleaned up the rebound by putting it over the goalie.
Seattle took a 3-2 lead on Simon Kubicek’s power-play goal at 15:14 of the first period. Bryks won a faceoff in the left circle back to Kubicek at right point. Kubicek beat Hofer with a slap shot with traffic in front of the goalie for his ninth goal of the season.
Portland took a 4-3 lead late in the first on goals from Clay Hanus at 15:56 and Seth Jarvis at 16:50.
Brecon Wood tied the game 4-4 for the T-Birds at 4:27 of the second period. Uchacz had the puck behind the net and sent in front where Andrej Kukuca took a shot. The puck came off Hofer’s left pad to Wood, who lifted a backhand shot into the top right corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
The T-Birds scored two goals in 2:30 in the third period to take a 6-4 lead.
On the power play Sean Richard got behind the defense on a pass from Kukuca. Richards came in on Hofer and beat him high at 5:30 for his 15th goal of the season. Jarret Tyszka had the second assist.
At the eight-minute mark, Tyszka hit a wide open net to make it 6-4. Kukuca was in the right circle and made a wrist pass to Jaxan Kaluski on top of the crease. Hofer went down thinking show and the puck deflected off Kaluski’s skate right to Tyszka in the slot. Hofer was down, and Tyszka had the whole net to shoot at and didn’t miss.
Jared Freadrich on the power play, and with Hofer on the bench, with one second left in the game to get Portland’s fifth goal.
Hofer finished with 27 saves.
Seattle, the Western Conference second wild-card qualifier, opens the playoffs against Vancouver, the conference champion. Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series are in Vancouver, B.C. – 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22, and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 23.’
Games 3 and 4 – both 7:05 p.m. starts – are at the accesso ShoWare Center on March 26 and 27.
Playoff tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday on the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare box office, 625 W. James St.
First period – 1, Portland, Newkirk 23 (Freadrich, Gricius), 1:47. 2, Portland, Gricius 27 (De Jong, Freadrich), 5:35. 3, Seattle, Davidson 2 (Bryks), 10:32. 4, Seattle, Uchacz 1 (Mount, Rybinski), 13:03. 5, Seattle, Kubicek 9 (Bryks), 15:14. 6, Portland, Hanus 8 (Hanas, Gilliss), 15:56. 7, Portland, Jarvis 16 (Quigley), 16:50. Penalties – Kukuca, Sea (roughing), 1:13. Lee, Sea (cross checking), 1:13. Bench, Por (too many men-served by Delorme), 8:23. Blichfeld, Por (holding), 13:25.
Second period – 8, Seattle, Wood 4 (Kukuca), 4:27. Penalties – Lee, Sea (cross checking), 8:44. Newkirk, Por (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:44. Tyszka, Sea (high-sticking), 9:55. McNelly, Sea (interference, major-fighting), 15:15. Mannek, Por (unsportsmanlike conduct, major-fighting), 15:15.
Third period – 9, Seattle, Richards 16 (Kukuca, Tyszka), 5:30 (pp). 10, Seattle, Tyszka 8 (Kaluski, Kukuca), 8:00. 11, Portland, Freadrich 15 (Blichfeld, Paterson), 19:59. Penalties – Richards, Sea (cross checking), 19:14.
Shots on goal – Seattle 9-15-9 33, Portland 17-13-14 44. Goalies – Seattle, Schwebius 44 shots-39 saves (5-8-2-0); Portland, Hofer 33-27 (15-29-3-1). Power plays – Seattle 2-3; Portland 2-4. A – 8,862. Referees – Kevin Bennett, Stephen Campbell. Linesmen – Eric Freeman, Tim Plamondon