Torrid Thunderbirds sock Winterhawks, 8-5 | WHL

Barzal delivers 6-point night for division-leading Seattle

Mathew Barzal had a goal and five assists to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to an 8-5 Western Hockey League victory over the Portland Winterhawks in front of 5,653 at the ShoWare Center on Saturday night.

It was Barzal’s first six-point game of his career and the most scored by a T-Bird in an outing this season. Barzal, who has had a goal and 15 assists in his last five games, has scored eight goals and handed out 46 assists for 54 points in 29 games this season.

Seattle (35-15-3-2) sits atop the U.S. Division, one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips, who have one game in hand on the T-Birds. The T-Birds are three points behind Prince George for the top spot in the Western Conference with two games in hand on the Cougars.

The T-Birds travel to Kelowna to take on the Rockets at 2 p.m. Monday before returning to Kent ice for a Directors Mortgage 2-for-Tuesday game at 7:05 p.m. against the Red Deer Rebels.

Seattle jumped out to a 1-0 lead 1:39 into the first period. Tyler Adams took a pass from Barzal in the low left circle, cut through the crease and beat Portland goalie Cole Kehler with a backhand shot past the goalie’s left pad.

Portland (30-23-1-2) tied the game 1-1 at 4:02 of the first on a goal from Jake Gricius.

The Winterhawks took a 2-1 lead at 5:33 of the first when Cody Glass beat Seattle goalie Rylan Toth with a backhand shot high.

The T-Birds tied the game 2-2 at 6:38 of the first. Ethan Bear passed the puck up ice to Ryan Gropp on the left wing. Gropp carried the puck into the Portland zone and from the bottom of the left circle crossed the puck to Barzal in the low slot. Barzal put the puck past Kehler’s left leg for his eighth goal of the season.

The T-Birds took a 3-2 lead at 18:48 of the first on Reece Harsch’s third goal of the season. Barzal had the puck behind the Portland net and as he was bringing it out it rolled off his stick to Keegan Kolesar, who tapped it back to Harsch at the top of the right circle. Harsch beat Kehler over the right shoulder with a slap shot.

Alexander True gave the T-Birds a 4-2 lead at 3:27 of the second period on an unassisted shorthanded breakaway. True stole the puck from a Portland defenseman inside the Seattle blue line. True took off towards Kehler with the puck. He came down on Kehler and beat the goalie through the legs for his 18th goal of the season.

The T-Birds extended the lead to 5-2 at 7:47 of the second on a five-on-three power play goal by Kolesar. Barzal passed the puck from center ice to Bear on top of the right circle. Bear skated into the circle and crossed puck to Kolesar who ripped the pass past Kehler for his 16h goal of the season.

Joachim Blichfeld scored at 13:07 and 14:51, on the power play, of the second to cut the T-Birds lead to 5-4 before the second intermission.

Portland outshot Seattle 10-7 in the second period and led 22-19 in shots after two periods.

Bear extended the T-Birds lead to 6-4 at 10:30 of the third period on a power play goal. Barzal passed the puck from the right wing to Bear in the left circle. Bear one-timed the pass and beat Kehler high for his 21st goal of the season. Donovan Neuls had the second assist.

Skyler McKenzie scored at 11:16 for Portland to cut the T-Birds lead back to one goal.

The T-Birds came right back and took a two-goal lead at 11:49 of the second. Bear got the puck to Kolesar at the right point. Kolesar made a diagonal pass to Gropp in the left circle. Gropp wristed the puck over Kehler as the goalie tried to slide over and make the save.

Gropp added an empty-net goal at 18:10 of the third to seal the win. Barzal passed the puck to Gropp in the neutral zone. Gropp gained the red line and fired the puck into the net. Aaron Hyman had the second assist.

Portland outshot Seattle 12-7 in the third period and 34-28 in the game.

Toth made 29 saves to improve his record to 29-15-1-1.

Kehler stopped 20 shots and his record is now 22-16-2-3.


Fans can purchase single-game tickets online or at the ShoWare Center box office. Season tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.


First period – 1, Seattle, Adams 2 (Barzal), 1:39. 2, Portland, Gricius 6 (Texeira), 4:02. 3, Portland, Glass 26 (De Jong), 5:33. 4, Seattle, Barzal 8 (Gropp, Bear), 6:38. 5, Seattle, Harsch 3 (Barzal, Kolesar), 18:48. Penalties – Tyszka, Sea (high-sticking), 7:44.

Second period – 6, Seattle, True 18, 3:27 (sh). 7, Seattle, Kolesar 16 (Bear, Barzal), 7:47 (pp). 8, Portland, Blichfeld 22 (Hughes, Colina), 9:16. 9, Portland, Blichfeld 23 (Glass, Jokiharju), 14:51 (pp). Penalties – Kolesar, Sea (holding), 5:53. Gilliss, Por (tripping), 5:53. De Jong, Por (hooking), 6:03. Andrusiak, Sea (hooking), 13:07. Gropp, Sea (boarding), 16:4. Jokiharju, Por (roughing), 18:20. True, Sea (roughing), 19:13. Quigley, Por (roughing), 19:13.

Third period – 10, Seattle, Bear 21 (Barzal, Neuls), 10:30 (pp). 11, Portland, McKenzie 36 (Glass), 11:16. 12, Seattle, Gropp 21 (Kolesar, Bear), 11:49. 12, Seattle, Gropp 22 (Barzal, Hyman), 18:10 (en). Penalties – Hughes, Por (hooking), 8:48. Ormsby, Sea (roughing), 19:10.

Shots on goal – Seattle 12-9-7 28, Portland 12-10-12 34. Goalies – Seattle, Toth 34 shots-29 saves (29-15-1-1); Portland, Kehler 28-20 (22-16-2-3). Power plays – Seattle 2-4; Portland 1-5. A – 5,653. Referees – Mike Campbell, Jeff Ingram. Linesmen – Michael Bean, Ron Dietterle.