The Seattle Thunderbirds advanced to the Western Conference championship for the second consecutive season after sweeping the Everett Silvertips with a 4-1 Game 4 victory in their Western semifinal series Friday night at the ShoWare Center.
The T-Birds open the best-of-seven series against the Kelowna Rockets at 7:35 p.m. Friday, April 21 at the ShoWare Center. Game 2 is 7:05 p.m. Saturday, April 22 at ShoWare. The T-Birds swept the Rocket in last year’s West finals series.
The Rockets defeated the Portland Winterhawks 6-2 Friday in Kelowna to win their semifinal series 4-1.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead at 14:03 of the first period on an unassisted breakaway goal from Donovan Neuls, who intercepted an Everett pass in the neutral zone just before a Silvertip power play ended. Neuls skated toward Everett goalie Carter Hart and made a move right, brought the puck back left and snuck it under the goalie.
The T-Birds extended the lead to 2-0 at 16:47 of the first. Ryan Gropp made a saucer pass from the left point to Turner Ottenbreit at the right point. Ottenbreit one-timed Gropp’s pass and shot the puck wide right when Keegan Kolesar tipped it in past Hart for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Mathew Barzal put the T-Birds in front 3-0 with a power-play goal at 6:24 of the second period. Alexander True passed the puck from the right corner to Kolesar in the slot. The Everett defenders collapsed on Kolesar as he passed the puck to Barzal in the left circle. Hart went down thinking Kolesar was going to shoot. Barzal took a slap shot at the empty net as Hart scrambled to get over. It was Barzal’s fourth goal of the playoffs.
Everett got on the board when Dominic Zwerger scored an unassisted shorthanded goal at 10:05 of the second.
The T-Birds took the three-goal lead back at 12:51 of the second on Kolesar’s second goal of the game. Aaron Hyman poked a loose puck into to the neutral zone where Kolesar got to it. Kolesar turned with the puck into the Everett zone on the right wing. Kolesar took a hard wrist shot from the right circle that beat Hart low on the blocker side.
The T-Birds outshot the Silvertips 17-6 in the second period and led 24-13 in shots after two periods.
In the third period the Silvertips pulled Hart several times for an extra attacker. The T-Birds kept Everett’s man-advantage attack at bay as they were outshot 12-7 in the period.
Carl Stankowski made 24 saves to improve his playoff record to 8-0.
Hart had 27 saves and finishes with a playoff record of 4-6.
Western Conference championship
Seattle vs. Kelowna
Game 1 – Kelowna at Seattle, Friday, April 21, 7:35 p.m.
Game 2 – Kelowna at Seattle, Saturday, April 22, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Seattle at Kelowna, Tuesday, April 25, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – Seattle at Kelowna, Wednesday, April 26, 7:05 p.m.
Game 5 – Kelowna at Seattle, Friday, April 28, 7:35 p.m.*
Game 6 – Seattle at Kelowna, Sunday, April 30, 5:05 p.m.*
Game 7 – Kelowna at Seattle, Tuesday, May 2, 7:05 p.m.*
* if necessary
Single-game tickets for the series are on sale on 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.
First period – 1, Seattle, Neuls 5, 14:03. 2, Seattle, Kolesar 5 (Ottenbreit, Gropp), 16:47. Penalties – Kolesar, Sea (boarding), 12:02.
Second period – 3, Seattle, Barzal 4 (Kolesar, True), 6:24 (pp). 4, Everett, Zwerger 4, 10:05 (sh). 5, Seattle, Kolesar 6 (Hyman), 12:51. Penalties – Dewar, Evt (slashing), 4:48. Fonteyne, Evt (cross checking), 8:37. Strand, Sea (tripping), 18:57.
Third period – No scoring. Penalties – No penalties.
Shots on goal – Seattle 7-17-7 31, Everett 7-6-12 25. Goalies – Seattle, Stankowski 25 shots-24 saves (8-0); Everett, Hart 31-27 (4-6). Power plays – Seattle 1-2; Everett 0-2. A – 5,438. Referees – Chris Crich, Fraser Lawrence. Linesmen – Nick Bilko, Ron Dietterle.