The Seattle Thunderbirds will play the Tri-City Americans in the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
The T-Birds have home-ice advantage in the first-round, best-of-7 series. Game 1 is 7:35 p.m. Friday, March 24, and Game 2 is 7:05 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the ShoWare Center. (See full schedule below).
Tri-City won a tiebreaker with Portland for the third spot in the U.S. Division behind champion Everett and Seattle. The Americans had a 6-4-0-0 record against the Winterhawks this season to take the tiebreaker.
Rival Portland denied Seattle of a second consecutive division title, upending the Thunderbirds 4-1 Saturday night in front of 6,173 fans at the raucous ShoWare Center. The Winterhawks snapped the T-Birds’ 17-game home winning streak, dating back to Dec. 30 when, coincidentally, Portland won 2-1.
Coupled with the T-Birds’ loss, Everett clinched its fifth U.S. Division title, using three power-play goals to fuel a 5-2 win over the Victoria Royals in front of a crowd of 7,989 at Xfinity Arena on Saturday.
Seattle (46-20-4-2) bounced back in its final regular-season game Sunday, defeating the Vancouver Giants 6-1 at ShoWare.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead 30 seconds into the first period. Ryan Gropp sprung the T-Birds on a three-on-two break by feeding the puck to Keegan Kolesar on the left wing. Kolesar gained the Giants’ zone and then dropped the puck to Alexander True trailing the play. True beat Vancouver goalie David Tendeck with a wrist shot on the blocker side for his 23rd goal of the season.
The T-Birds made it a 2-0 lead at 8:24 of the first. Sami Moilanen and Donovan Neuls worked the puck off the right boards to Nolan Volcan in the right circle. Volcan beat Tendeck over the glove for his 15th goal of the season.
Elijah Brown gave the T-Birds a 3-0 lead at two-minute mark of the second period. Zack Andrusiak carried the puck up the left wing and into the Vancouver zone. Andrusiak passed the puck to Brown in the left circle and the center beat Tendeck over the blocker. Reece Harsch had the second assist on the goal.
The T-Birds took a 4-0 lead at 6:14 of the second on a power-play goal from Matthew Wedman. Jarret Tyszka passed the puck to Austin Strand at the left point. Strand took a slap shot that Wedman tipped past Tendeck.
True scored his second goal of the game at 8:46 of the second to give the T-Birds a 5-0 lead. Kolesar chased the down in the left corner of the Vancouver zone. Kolesar fed True in front of Tendeck and he beat the goalie low. Strand had the second assist.
The T-Birds made it a 6-0 lead at 16:36 of the second. Moilanen passed the puck from behind the Giants net to Volcan to Tendeck’s left. Volcan chipped the puck over the goalie’s glove for his second goal of the game. Aaron Hyman had the second assist on the goal.
Johnny Wesley scored at 15:15 of the third period to end Seattle goalie Carl Stankowski’s shutout bid. Stankowski finished with 19 saves to improve his record to 3-0-0-1.
Seattle outshot Vancouver 34-20 in the game.
WHL PLAYOFF SERIES GLANCE
Seattle vs. Tri-City, first-round, best-of-7 series
Game 1 – Tri-City at Seattle, Friday, March 24, 7:35 p.m.
Game 2 – Tri-City at Seattle, Saturday, March 25, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Seattle at Tri-City, Wednesday, March 29, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – Seattle at Tri-City, Friday, March 30, 7:05 p.m.
Game 5 – Tri-City at Seattle, Saturday, April 1, 7:05 p.m.*
Game 6 – Seattle at Tri-City, Monday, April 3, 7:05 p.m.*
Game 7 – Tri-City at Seattle, Wednesday, April 5, 7:05 p.m.*
* if necessary
Single-game playoff tickets for Games 1 and 2 are on sale at the ShoWare Center box office and online on the T-Birds website.
Fans who purchase 10 tickets to either Game 1 or Game 2 for $220 will receive two additional free tickets to the playoff game they choose. Fans can purchase this playoff Group Ticket Special for Game 1 and Game 2 online or by calling the T-Birds at 253-239-7825.
SUNDAY’S SCORING SUMMARY
First period – 1, Seattle, True 23 (Kolesar, Gropp), :30. 2, Seattle, Volcan 15 (Moilanen, Neuls), 8:24. Penalties – Ormsby, Sea (interference), 9:45. Volcan, Sea (slashing), 18:15. Barberis, Van (slashing), 18:15.
Second period – 3, Seattle, Brown 4 (Andrusiak), 2:00. 4, Seattle, Wedman 5 (Strand, Tyszka), 6:14 (pp). 5, Seattle, True 24 (Kolesar, Strand), 8:46. Penalties – Wharrie, Van (tripping), 4:53. Adams, Sea (slashing), 11:08.
Third period – 7, Vancouver, Ronning 26 (Wesley, Semchuk), 15:15. Penalties – Moilanen, Sea (tripping), 3:46. Ronning, Van (tripping), 7:05. DeRoose, Van (delay of game), 16:33.
Shots on goal – Seattle 13-12-9 34, Vancouver 10-3-7 20. Goalies – Seattle, Stankowski 20 shots-19 saves (3-0-0-1); Vancouver, Tendeck 25-19 (5-14-0-0), Kubic 9-9. Power plays – Seattle 1-4; Vancouver 0-3. A – 4,067. Referees – Kevin Bennett, Bryan Bourdon. Linesmen – Adam Brastad, Nathan Van Oosten.