KENT, March 29, 2014 - The Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Everett Silvertips 5-0 at the ShoWare Center on Saturday night in Game 5, winning the first round best-of seven playoff series 4-1.
The T-Birds advance to the second round of the WHL playoffs. The T-Birds will meet the top-seeded Kelowna Rockets in the second round, which will begin Thursday in Kelowna.
Second Round Schedule vs. Kelowna
- Game 1 - Seattle @ Kelowna Thursday, April 3, 7:05 pm
- Game 2 - Seattle @ Kelowna Saturday, April 5, 7:05 pm
- Game 3 - Kelowna @ Seattle Tuesday, April 8, 7:05 pm
- Game 4 - Kelowna @ Seattle Wednesday, April 9, 7:05 pm
- Game 5 - Seattle @ Kelowna Friday, April 11, 7:05 pm*
- Game 6 - Kelowna @ Seattle Sunday, April 13, 5:05 pm*
- Game 7 - Seattle @ Kelowna Tuesday, April 15, 7:05 pm*
T-Birds single game playoff tickets for the second round series against the Kelowna Rockets are on sale 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 Sunday game days at noon.
The second round series between the T-Birds and Rockets is a rematch of their first round playoff series last season, which the Rockets won in seven games, 4-3.
Taran Kozun stopped all 24 shots he faced, getting the shutout in the series-clinching victory. Austin Lotz stopped 26 of 31 and took the loss.
Everett had the momentum in the first minute of the game. The visitors held the puck in the zone almost the entire minute, though they were unable to get any shots on goal as Seattle blocked two attempts and took the body continually. Seattle eventually worked the puck up the ice and had an attack of their own, though they were also unable to record a shot.
After an injury stoppage at 2:30, the T-Birds came out with their most dangerous shift. Seattle's fourth line held the puck in the zone but couldn't get a shot until the next shift, where Seattle's shutdown line peppered Lotz with shots. Once Everett got the puck back, they were punished physically by the home team, who sent Silvertips to the ice multiple times before the next stoppage. Everett was only able to record one shot on goal in the first nine minutes, with Seattle getting six in that time.
Kozun had his first real work at the halfway point of the period. The visitors had two shots from the slot get through, both of which Kozun fought off, before Seattle could get back on offense. The game began to take on an up-and-down pace from there, with rushes from both teams that rarely ended in shots.
Seattle just missed the opening goal after Scott Eansor stole the puck on the forecheck. Lotz knocked away Eansor's shot, with the rebound going right onto Eansor's stick. The 17-year-old center then backhanded a pass across the crease to Justin Hickman, who couldn't get his stick on the bouncing puck.
Another T-Bird chance as the period came to an end nearly gave them a goal. Jaimen Yakubowski worked the puck out of a scrum in front of the net and nearly flipped it in. Yakubowski couldn't quite get a handle on the puck and Lotz leaped over in time to block it away.
Shots were 11-10 Everett in the first.
Neither team could get on the offensive for very long in the second period. There were two shots on goal in the first five minutes of the period, both by Seattle. Everett only had one chance in the offensive zone that was broken up by an Evan Wardley check. Otherwise, every Everett foray ended in an offside call or a forced turnover. The T-Birds finally started to get an attacking push with two shots on goal and a third blocked during a shift by the Yakubowski-Eansor-Sam McKechnie line at 5:30.
The Silvertips had their first shot of the period at 6:40. Seattle's responding rush almost netted a goal. Branden Troock, who had previously left the game with an injury, just missed a rebound as he raced up the ice on the wing.
Shea Theodore had a golden opportunity at 9:55. Theodore got the puck on a pass across the zone as the defenseman pinched in deep. Theodore deked with the puck and tried to flip it past Lotz's stick hand. Lotz read the play well and knocked the puck away to the end boards.
Seattle broke through and got the opening goal at 12:59 of the second period. Eansor tied up the puck off the faceoff. Yakubowski poked the puck loose from the scrum and McKechnie collected it from there, getting a shot on goal. The puck popped loose from Lotz's pads and Eansor shot it into the back of the net with a backhand shot, making it 1-0. McKechnie and Yakubowski had the assists on Eansor's third goal of the playoffs. "A lot of checking lines have big impacts on series... they get underneath the skin and next thing you know they put one in so I'm not surprised," said Coach Steve Konowalchuk about his defensive forwards' offensive success.
The first penalty of the game came with two minutes to play in the second period. The high-sticking call left Seattle shorthanded for the rest of the period. The T-Birds killed off the penalty with aplomb, however, and went to the locker room with the lead. "Everyone bought in today," said Eansor, who was matched up against Everett's top line. Eansor credited the T-Birds' mental toughness with preventing penalties, saying that "we want to play a smart hockey game and keep cool in [playoff] situations."
Seattle led in shots 9-5 in the second period.
Everett had a huge chance fall by the wayside less than a minute into the third. The Silvertips managed to get a pass through the crease to a waiting forward, but the visitors were unable to connect with the puck and saw it sail to the boards. Seattle took control their and established themselves in the offensive zone and forced a faceoff.
Almost immediately, the T-Birds got their second goal of the night. Much like their first goal, Seattle scored this one just off the faceoff. Troock had the goal, beating Lotz from with a backhand shot from the right circle. Roberts Lipsbergs had the only assist on the goal coming at 1:19.
Alexander Delnov extended Seattle's lead at 4:51. Delnov took the puck to the top of the right faceoff dot on the rush. His shot went through an Everett defenseman's legs before skimming through Lotz's five-hole. Keegan Kolesar and Mitch Elliot had the assists.
Troock added his second goal of the night at 7:02 on a 2-on-1 break. Russell Maxwell started the break, getting the puck in the neutral zone with no one in front of him. After Maxwell whiffed on a shot, the center passed to Troock, who has planted at the side of the crease. Troock knocked it home and collected his fourth goal of the postseason, with Maxwell getting the only assist. "Maxwell made a really nice pass and I just had to tap it into the empty net," said Troock.
Seattle got its first power play of the game at 9:51 of the third period after a cross-checking call. The home team had its chances, including an opportunity in front of the net that left Lotz lying on the ice, but couldn't extend their 4-0 lead.
A second power play came for the T-Birds at 13:54, allowing them to pin Everett deep for two minutes and protect the four-goal lead. Seattle didn't create any offense during this advantage, ending without a shot on goal, but took valuable time off the clock.
Elliot added the first playoff goal of his career at 17:57. The 20-year-old beat a defenseman on the rush and flipped a backhand shot past Lotz. Ethan Bear had the assist on the goal. "Mitch has battled hard for five years and he was great tonight," said Hickman about Elliot's contributions in the series.
Shots in the final period of play were 12-8 Seattle.
First Round Schedule vs. Everett
- Game 1 - @ Seattle 2, Everett 1
- Game 2 - Seattle 3, @ Everett 1
- Game 3 - @ Seattle 4, Everett 3 (OT)
- Game 4 - @ Everett 6, Seattle 1
- Game 5 - @ Seattle 5, Everett 0
First period - No scoring. Penalties - No penalties.
Second period - 1, Seattle, Eansor 3 (McKechnie, Yakubowski), 12:59. Penalties - Hauf, Seattle (high-sticking), 18:00.
Third period - 2, Seattle, Troock 3 (Lipsbergs), 1:19. 3, Seattle, Delnov 1 (Kolesar, Elliot), 4:51. 4, Seattle, Troock 4 (Maxwell), 7:02. 5, Seattle, Elliot 1 (Bear), 17:57. Penalties - Pufahl, Everett (cross-checking), 9:51. Leedahl, Everett (cross-checking), 13:54.
Shots on goal - Seattle 10-9-12 31, Everett 11-5-8 24. Goalies - Seattle, Kozun 24 shots-24 saves (4-1); Everett, Lotz 31-26 (1-4). Power plays - Seattle 0-2; Everett 0-1. A - 3,526. Referees - Nathan Wieler, Derek Zalaski. Linesmen - Ron Dietterle, Ryan Gibbons.