Gropp hat trick leads Thunderbirds past Royals | WHL

Berlin makes 17 saves in 3-1 win over Victoria

Ryan Gropp scored three goals to the lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 3-1 Western Hockey League victory over the Victoria Royals at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday night.

The T-Birds are in second place in the U.S. Division three points behind the Everett Silvertips for first place. They are four points ahead of the third-place Tri-City Americans.

Seattle goalie Matt Berlin stopped 17 of shots to improve to 5-0-2-0. He is 2-0-0-0 against the Royals this season.

Seattle (32-15-3-2) took a 1-0 lead on a crisp passing play from the line of Mathew Barzal, Keegan Kolesar and Gropp. Kolesar fed the puck from the neutral zone to Barzal and he entered the Victoria zone on the right wing. Barzal stopped up at the right point and dished the puck to Kolesar coming into the right circle. Kolesar crossed the puck to Gropp coming down the left wing. Gropp caught the puck on his stick and snapped a wrist shot past Victoria goalie Griffen Outhouse high on the stick side.

Victoria (30-20-4-0) tied the game 1-1 at 18:36 of the first on a power-play goal from Dante Hannoun.

Gropp struck with 18 seconds left in the first period to give the T-Birds a 2-1 lead. Barzal won a faceoff in the right circle back to Ethan Bear the right point. Bear skated toward the right circle and then dropped the puck for Gropp coming up the right-wing boards. Gropp took the puck, curled into the slot and beat Outhouse over the blocker for his second goal of the game.

The T-Birds killed off a Royals’ four-on-three power play and then a five-on-four power play midway through the third period.

The Royals pulled Outhouse with 2:23 left in the third period for an extra attacker. Matching roughing minors were called on Barzal and Phillips to give Victoria a five-on-four power play with Outhouse on the bench.

Victoria was pressing when Austin Strand chipped the puck up the right boards to Donovan Neuls. Neuls found Gropp heading up ice in the neutral zone. Gropp went wide on a Victoria defenseman and hit the empty net from the top of the left circle with 1:01 left in the game.

Seattle outshot Victoria 9-7 in the third period and 32-18 in the game.

Outhouse made 29 saves on 31 shots and his record is now 29-17-3-0.

Defenseman Jake Lee made his T-Bird debut Tuesday night. Lee was the T-Birds’ first round pick, 18th overall, in the 2016 Bantam Draft. Lee, from Sherwood Park, Alberta, has been playing with the Sherwood Park Kings midget team this season. He has three goals and 10 assists for 13 points in 28 games with the Kings. Lee signed with the T-Birds on June 1.

Royals again, then back home

The T-Bird and Royals meet for a final time this season at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday in Victoria. The T-Birds return to the ShoWare Center on Friday against the Tri-City Americans at 7:35 p.m.

Fans may purchase single game tickets online or at the ShoWare Center box office.


First period – 1, Seattle, Gropp 16 (Kolesar, Barzal), 9:00. 2, Victoria, Hannoun 19 (Phillips, Soy), 18:36 (pp). 3, Seattle, Gropp 17 (Bear, Barzal), 19:42. Penalties – Gropp, Sea (holding), 17:31.

Second period – No scoring. Penalties – Bishop, Sea (tripping), 2:38. Gagnon, Vic (holding opponents stick), 14:04.

Third period – 4, Seattle, Gropp 18 (Neuls, Strand), 18:59 (en). Penalties – Kolesar, Sea (boarding, major-fighting), 6:57. Gagnon, Vic (unsportsmanlike conduct, major-fighting), 6:57. Folk, Vic (delay of game), 8:01. E. Bear, Sea (interference), 8:15. Ottenbreit, Sea (tripping), 8:49. Gerth, Vic (tripping), 14:38. Barzal, Sea (roughing), 18:28. Phillips, Vic (roughing), 18:28.

Shots on goal – Seattle 7-16-9 32, Victoria 5-6-7 18. Goalies – Seattle, Berlin 18 shots-17 saves (5-0-2-0); Victoria, Outhouse 31-29 (29-17-3-0). Power plays – Seattle 0-3; Victoria 1-4. A – 3,085. Referees – Mike Langin, Ryan Benbow. Linesmen – Liam Reed, Kirk Val Helvoirt.