Seattle took the best-of-seven series with Everett in five games, losing only in Game 4 after taking a three games to none lead. Branden Troock (4-1-5) and Roberts Lipsbergs (1-4-5) combined to lead the team in scoring in the five-game series, with each player recording five points. Troock punctuated the series with a two-goal game in the 5-0 shutout that ended the series. Lipsbergs, who had 19 assists in 68 regular season games, had four in five playoff games, leading the team in that category. Lipsbergs tied with Adam Henry (0-1-1) for the lead in plus minus: both players were a plus five.
The rookies on Seattle had an excellent series as well. Scott Eansor (3-0-3) added three goals in the series after scoring three goals all regular season. Ryan Gropp (1-2-3) and Mathew Barzal (0-3-3) each had three points. Ethan Bear (0-2-2), Seattle’s only rookie defenseman, added two assists and was a plus three.
Taran Kozun continued to shine in his first ever playoff action. Kozun started all five games and went 4-1 with a 2.27 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Those numbers were hurt by Everett’s six-goal outburst in Game 4: Kozun gave up just five goals in the other four games, including his game five shutout. The goaltender’s performance was right in line with his play as a T-Bird. Kozun had a .928 save percentage in 24 games with Seattle in the regular season. Danny Mumaugh also made his playoff debut, coming on in relief of Kozun in game four and stopping all five shots he faced.
Thursday, April 3, 2014 (7:05 pm) at Prospera Place, Kelowna, British Columbia
Saturday, April 5, 2014 (7:05 pm) at Prospera Place, Kelowna, British Columbia
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 (7:05 pm) at ShoWare Center, Kent, Washington
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 (7:05 pm) at ShoWare Center, Kent, Washington
Friday, April 11, 2014 (7:05 pm) at Prospera Place, Kelowna, British Columbia*
Sunday, April 13, 2014 (5:05 pm) at ShoWare Center, Kent, Washington*
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 (7:05 pm) at Prospera Place, Kelowna, British Columbia*
Season Series: 2-1-0-1
All-Time Series: 55-65-5-4-9
An 8-2-0-0 record to end the regular season helped Kelowna along to the playoffs, where they faced off with the eighth-seeded Tri-City Americans. Kelowna came out on top in five games, with their only loss coming in game three at Tri-City when Eric Comrie stopped 52 of 55 shots by the Rockets. Kelowna scored 18 goals and gave up just 10, three times holding the Americans to just one goal. The Rockets remain the top seed in the Western Conference, giving them home ice advantage against the T-Birds. Seattle and Kelowna met in the playoffs last year, where the Rockets defeated the T-Birds four games to three in the first round.
Photo Courtesy of Marissa Baecker
Marek Tvrdon (11-16-27) played just 29 games for Kelowna in the regular season, coming over in a trade deadline deal to add some offensive punch. That move paid off in the first round, where Tvrdon led the Rockets in scoring with four goals and two assists, with three of those goals coming on the power play. Rourke Chartier (24-34-58) and Tyson Baillie (22-33-55) tied for the team lead in scoring in the first round with six points each. Neither player was in the top five in scoring for Kelowna in the regular season.
Myles Bell (42-35-77), the leading scorer on the team in the regular season, had four points in the first round, scoring two of Kelowna’s six power-play goals. Rookie Justin Kirkland (17-31-48) had the final power-play goal for the Rockets and added an even-strength goal and assist for good measure. Ryan Olsen (30-34-64) had just one goal and one assist in the first round. 16-year-old Nick Merkley (25-33-58) had five assists in the five-game series after leading all 16-year-olds in scoring in the regular season.
Damon Severson (15-46-61) and Madison Bowey (21-39-60) had five points between them, with Bowey scoring a goal and adding two assists while Severson had just two assists. Mitchell Wheaton (7-21-28) tied for the team lead in plus/minus at plus four and in penalty minutes with six. Riley Stadel (10-25-35) was the only Kelowna defender to not record a point in the first round. Colten Martin (0-21-21) and Joe Gatenby (0-6-6) each had one point, with Gatenby getting his first WHL goal, but were also both minus one in plus/minus, worst on the team.
Jordon Cooke continued his reign as the Rockets number one goaltender. Cooke started all five games in the first round and let in just 10 goals. Cooke had a 2.01 GAA and a .935 save percentage. His save percentage is the third-best in the playoffs so far, while his GAA ranks fourth. Cooke was just as good in the regular season, where he had a 2.28 GAA and won 39 games, getting four shutouts along the way.
Photo Courtesy of John Allen
What to Watch For
Kelowna’s special teams shined in the first round, ranking fourth amongst playoff teams in both the power play and penalty kill. Will Seattle be able to stay out of the box and succeed on their odd-man opportunities?
In the last five playoff series between these two teams, there have been 11 overtime games, including five last season. In addition, just one series has been decided in less than six games. Will the T-Birds be able to pull away quickly, or will the conference champions make their mark?
The Rockets and T-Birds allowed 21 goals in 10 games between them in the first round. Which defense will continue its stingy ways?
The Seattle Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets split their four-game season series evenly, with each team going 2-1-0-1 and the teams alternating wins. The T-Birds and Rockets both won a game on the road and at home as well. Just one goal separated the teams as well, with Kelowna outscoring Seattle 15-14 in the four games. The lowest shot total of the series was Seattle’s 30 in a 7-3 loss on February 10. Each team had 30 or more shots in every game, with the highest totals coming in Kelowna’s 4-3 shootout win on November 19: Kelowna had 51 shots in that game and Seattle had 46. Overall, the Rockets led the shots battle with 167 to Seattle’s 148.
Special teams were incredibly close as well in the series. Seattle had the slight edge, scoring five power-play goals in 21 chances. Kelowna also had five power-play goals, but had one extra opportunity: their five for 22 conversation rate lags one percent behind Seattle.
Photo Courtesy of Marissa Baecker
Scoring by committee was where the T-Birds found success against Kelowna. Alexander Delnov (3-1-4) led the team in scoring with four points, but four other players had three points in the series. Justin Hickman (0-3-3) and Branden Troock (0-3-3) led the team in assists with three each, though neither player scored a goal. Plus/minus was similarly grouped for Seattle: three players were plus twos. Scott Eansor (0-1-1), Jerret Smith (1-1-2), and Ethan Bear (1-1-2) were those players, though Eansor played in only three of the four games.
Tyrell Goulbourne (3-2-5) was Kelowna’s leader in scoring, plus/minus, and penalty minutes in the series. Goulbourne was a plus three, tied with Cole Linaker (0-1-1), and had 24 PIMs to go along with his three goals and two assists. Goulbourne also had the only shorthanded goal of the series. Riley Stadel (0-3-3) had the team lead in assists with three. Damon Severson (2-2-4) and Ryan Olsen (2-2-4) added two power-play goals each from the blue line.
Photo Courtesy of Marissa Baecker
The Rockets used Jordon Cooke and Jackson Whistle evenly in net, with each player starting two games. Cooke was in net for both of Seattle’s losses but his 2.90 GAA was just .02 worse that Whistle’s 2.88. Cooke also had a .913 save percentage, .009 worse than his season average. Whistle had a .923 save percentage and won both his starts against Seattle, though the 18-year-old only played 20 more games this season.
Justin Myles, Danny Mumaugh, and Taran Kozun all played against Kelowna this year. Myles made one start and stopped 40 of 43 shots, getting the win before being traded to Kamloops for Kozun. Mumaugh also started one game and came on in relief in another, ending the season series with a 3.69 GAA and a shootout loss. Kozun went 1-1-0-0 against Kelowna with a 3.43 GAA, though he did have a .921 save percentage.
The Rockets stopped 76% of Seattle’s power plays as opposed to their season average of 86.2%. The T-Birds were also below their average, stopping 77% in the series and 79% on the season. Conversely, the power plays for both teams outperformed their norm: Kelowna by one percent and Seattle by three.
Thunderbirds: The Week Ahead is written weekly by Matt Swanson, intern with the Thunderbirds. Matt is a graduate of Western Oregon University, where he studied political science and sports management. Each post is written as a preview of Thunderbird games scheduled for the upcoming week and weekend.
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