T-Birds stop Americans to jump into first place | WHL

Kolesar, Barzal, Bear and Gropp have multi-point nights in 6-2 victory over Tri-City

The Seattle Thunderbirds moved into first place in the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division after defeating the Tri-City Americans 6-2 Friday night in front of 5,308 at the ShoWare Center.

Seattle (34-15-3-2) is one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips, who lost to the Brandon Wheat Kings 2-1 Friday, in the division with Everett having a game in hand. The T-Bird are eight points ahead of the third-place Americans with two games in hand.

The T-Birds, who have won 16 of their last 18 games, host the Portland Winterhawks at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

Keegan Kolesar had a goal and three assists and Mathew Barzal had three assists in the game. Ryan Gropp and Ethan Bear each chipped in a goal and an assist.

Seattle goalie Rylan Toth made 18 saves on 20 shots and his record improves to 28-15-1-1.

Tri-City (31-22-3-0) took a 1-0 lead at 9:55 of the first period on a power-play goal from Jordan Topping.

Seattle (33-15-3-2) came back and tied the game 1-1 at 12:38 of the first on Donovan Neuls’ power-play goa. Barzal passed the puck from the T-Birds’ zone to Kolesar on the right wing. Kolesar gained the offensive zone and passed the puck to Neuls coming down the slot. Neuls beat Tri-City goalie Evan Sarthou under the glove with a backhand shot.

The T-Birds made it a 2-1 lead at 15:13 of the first on the power play. Toth stopped a Tri-City clearing behind his net. Bear skated the puck out from behind the Seattle net and from the left circle made a stretch pass to Kolesar on the right wing. Kolesar skated into the right circle and beat Sarthou low on the stick side for his 15th goal of the season.

Seattle outshot Tri-City 12-5 in the first period.

The T-Birds made it a 4-1 lead with two goals nine seconds apart midway through the second period.

On the power play Kolesar moved the puck from the right corner to Barzal at the right point. Barzal crossed the puck to Bear in the middle of the ice. Bear one-timed Barzal’s pass beating Sarthou on the glove side at 12:15 for his 20th goal of the season.

Off the ensuing faceoff after Bear’s goal the T-Birds got the puck into the Americans zone. The puck popped loose to Sami Moilanen skating down the slot. Moilanen beat Sarthou with a wrist shot on the glove side at 12:24 of the period.

The Americans cut the T-Birds lead to two goals at 16:24 of the second on a power-play goal from Parker Wotherspoon.

The T-Birds outshot the Americans 15-6 in the second period and led 27-11 in shots after two periods.

Gropp made it a 5-2 lead at 3:28 of the third period when he scored on a scramble in front of Sarthou. Barzal took backhand shot that Sarthou stopped but Kolesar got a whack at the rebound before Gropp slid the puck under the goalie.

Alexander True converted on a two-on-one break with Gropp at 15:44 of the third to get the T-Birds’ sixth goal. Gropp forced a turnover at the Americans blue line to create the two-on-one break.

Seattle outshot Tri-City 16-11 in the third period and 43-20 in the game.

Tri-City replaced Sarthou with Rylan Parenteau after the sixth Seattle goal. Sarthou had 34 saves on 40 shots. Parenteau made three saves.

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


First period – 1, Tri-City, Topping 16 (Geekie, Lukin), 9:55 (pp). 2, Seattle, Neuls 11 (Kolesar, Barzal), 12:38 (pp). 3, Seattle, Kolesar 15 (Bear, Toth), 15:13 (pp). Penalties – Adams, Sea (roughing), 9:47. Focht, Tri (slashing), 11:44. Andrusiak, Sea (roughing), 14:38. Wotherspoon (roughing, slashing), 14:38.

Second period – 4, Seattle, Bear 20 (Barzal, Kolesar), 12:15 (pp). 5, Seattle, Moilanen 16, 12:24. 6, Tri-City, Wotherspoon 9 (Valimaki, Sandhu), 16:24 (pp). Penalties – Yorke, Tri (roughing), 3:03. Sandhu, Tri (slashing), 6:50. James, Tri (delay of game), 8:05. Lukin, Tri (checking from behind), 10:58. Neuls, Sea (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:24. Sandhu, Tri (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:24. Gropp, Sea (high-sticking), 12:34. Strand, Sea (slashing), 14:05. Neuls, Sea (tripping), 15:17. Adams, Sea (tripping), 19:50.

Third period – 7, Seattle, Gropp 20 (Kolesar, Barzal), 3:23. 8, Seattle, True 17 (Gropp), 15:44. Penalties – Strand, Sea (roughing), 1:25. Olson, Tri (roughing), 1:25. Adams, Sea (tripping), 3:57. Lukin, Tri (roughing), 8:02. Neuls, Sea (hooking), 11:02. O’Reily, Tri (tripping), 9:11.

Shots on goal – Seattle 12-15-16 43, Tri-City 5-6-9 20. Goalies – Seattle, Toth 20 shots-18 saves (28-15-1-1); Tri-City, Sarthou 40-34 (7-6-2-0), Parenteau 3-3. Power plays – Seattle 3-8; Tri-City 2-7. A – 5,308. Referees – Fraser Lawrence, Sean Raphael. Linesmen – Adam Brastad, Mark Heier.