Game day: @ Portland 10/11

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is the old adage. The WHL schedule makers are certainly doing their part adhering to that. For the 3rd time in 3 weeks, Seattle is in Portland to take on the Winterhawks at the Moda Center. While both teams are missing a key player on defense, this is the closest they have been to a full roster so far. Will Seattle continue this seasons dominance of Portland or will the Winterhawks finally solve the Thunderbirds puzzle and get their first home win this season? Here are some game day notes:

Last game
Seattle defeated Spokane 2-1 in OT. TBirds had chances but failed to score until the final 3 minutes of the 3rd period. F Mathew Barzal scored at 17:58 of the 3rd to tie the game at 1. In overtime, Seattle had the only 2 shots and one of them was by D Jared Hauf. He scored his first career game-winning goal and extended the Thunderbirds winning streak in Spokane to 6 games over 3 seasons.

Overall game #7 Away game #5
Seattle Thunderbirds (3-3-0-0) @ Portland Winterhawks (1-7-0-1)
10/11/2014 7pm
Moda Center
Radio: The Fan 1090AM (Seattle) KPAM 860AM (Portland)

Power play: Seattle #9 6/27 22.2% Portland #18 5/36 13.9%
Penalty kill: Seattle #4 22/26 84.6% Portland #16 38/49 77.6%
Seattle PP: #9 4/20 20% PK: #1 13/14 92.9%
Portland PP: #16 4/25 16% PK: #13 27/34 79.4%

Season series
Seattle leads 2-0-0-0 GF 8 GA 4
Home 0-0-0-0 GF 0 GF 0
Away 2-0-0-0 GF 8 GA 4

Previous meetings
9/19 @ Portland
Seattle gave up the first goal but scored the next 4 en route to a 4-1 opening night win. F Keegan Kolesar, F Alexander True, and F Ryan Gropp (2) were the goal scorers. F Mathew Barzal had 2 assists. G Taran Kozun had 24 saves for the victory.

10/3 @ Portland
Portland had 3 1-goal leads but Seattle answered each time including F Ryan Gropp’s game tying goal with just over 2 minutes to go. TBirds score twice in the shootout to win 4-3. Goal scorers for the TBirds were F Nick Holowko, F Keegan Kolesar and F Ryan Gropp. Barzal and F Donovan Neuls scored in the shootout for Seattle. Kozun made 26 saves in regulation and 2 in the shootout for the victory.

The more things change…
Both teams will have a little more offensive punch in the lineup tonight compared to their last meeting. F Nic Petan is back from Winnipeg Jets camp for the Winterhawks. He has 1G and 1A in his two games back in the WHL but Portland has lost both games. Portland will also have D Josh Hanson in the lineup for the first time vs Seattle this season.

The only injury listed for Portland on this week’s WHL Weekly Report is D Blake Heinrich who apparently is closer to returning from a concussion but will not be ready for tonight.

Seattle got team captain F Justin Hickman back last night in Spokane. He will face Portland for the first time this season. With him returning from the injured list, all players currently with the team are healthy. D Shea Theodore continues to rehab from his upper body injury with the Anaheim Ducks.

Tonight will be Jerret Smith’s 150th WHL regular season game, all with Seattle.

Call them butter ’cause they are on a roll
Here was today’s TBird Tidbits “This Day in TBirds History” tweet:

That was Seattle’s first visit to Portland that season. Until this year, that 2008-9 season was the last time the TBirds won their first two games in Portland versus the Winterhawks.

3 TBirds come into tonight with 3-game point scoring streaks: Barzal (2G 3A), Gropp (1G 2A) and Hauf (1G 2A).

Against Portland, Barzal and Kolesar each have a 2-game 2-point streak. Here’s some information about those two from a previous game day preview:

Barzal and Kolesar have accomplished something that hasn’t been done since 1/19/13 and 2/1/13. They are the first TBird duo to each score 2+ points in consecutive games against Portland. The last duo to do it was F Connor Honey and F Roberts Lipsbergs. However, both of those games were at ShoWare Center. You have to go back all the way to 12/31/07 and 1/19/08 to find a set of teammates that each scored 2+ points in consecutive games in Portland. That trick was done by F Bud Holloway and F Ian McKenzie.

Stat leaders

F Mathew Barzal 8

F Ryan Gropp 3

F Mathew Barzal 6

D Sahvan Khaira +2

F Keegan Kolesar 18

Around the division
All 5 teams were in action last night and will be again tonight. Tri-City was in Regina and defeated the Pats 3-1. The Americans will take on Swift Current tonight in the their final game in Saskatchewan for this season. Everett defeated Portland 6-2 at Xfinity Arena. The Tips loaded up and headed out on the Coquihalla to Kamloops for a game against the Blazers tonight.

No US Division teams play again this weekend and Seattle and Spokane will be the next two division teams to play as they face each other on Tuesday in Kent.

US Division standings as of 10/11 from

US Division standings as of 10/11 from

Next game
The TBirds return home for one game after this weekend: Tuesday they will play Spokane again. That is the first 2-for-Tuesday of the season, meaning drink and food specials for $2 and 2-for-1 ticket prices.