T-Birds Approach the Record Book

KENT, Wash. –Dylan Guenther had a goal and two assists as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-2, Friday at the accesso ShoWare Center. At 51-9-1-2 on the season, Seattle is one win away from tying the franchise record of 52 wins established back in the 1989-90 campaign. The Thunderbirds will get their first chance to tie the record when they travel to Portland Saturday for a rematch with the Winterhawks. Game time at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum is 6:05 p.m.

With his three-point night, Guenther surpassed the 200-point plateau in his WHL career. “I didn’t know that coming in,” said the prospect of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. “It’s not easy to score in this league, so it’s an honor to hit that mark.”

His goal, early in the second period, broke a 1-1 tie and put the Thunderbirds up for good. It was his 94th goal in the WHL. He said he’s starting to feel more comfortable with his new team, so reaching 100-goals may not be out of the question with five games remaining. “I’m starting to play a little bit better now.  I’ll keep playing the right way, keep shooting and hopefully they’ll go in.”

Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said while it wasn’t a perfect game, they did more than enough things right to secure the win. “A little too much special teams play,” he remarked of a game that consisted of a combined eleven power plays. “All in all, though, it was a pretty solid game by us. I didn’t think we gave up much 5-on-5, the PK was really good and it’s always nice to win against a rival.”

Seattle never trailed in this one.  Mekai Sanders put the Thunderbirds up, 1-0, with his fifth goal of the season at 2:05 of the first period, though it took 55-seconds before the video review judge buzzed down to let the officials know that the shot had gone in.

Portland tied it with a Jack O’Brien power play goal at 5:45. After Guenther’s goal early in period two gave the lead back to Seattle, the game winning goal came on a Luke Prokop breakaway at 7:08.  Prokop was in the penalty box when T-Birds goalie Scott Ratzlaff made a pad save. The puck caromed to Guenther just as Prokop came out of the box.  Guenther fed Prokop the puck and the Nashville Predators prospect did the rest.

“I’ve been doing that a little in practice,” said Prokop of his forehand, backhand, glove side shot. “I knew I was gonna do it if I got a chance in a game. It was a good-defense-leads-to-good-offense play. I thought our penalty kill was outstanding tonight.”

Portland crept back to within 3-2 on a Josh Zakreski goal at 15:35 of the second period but the Thunderbirds responded with a Kevin Korchinski goal three minutes later. Korchinski now has 143-points in 141 WHL games. O’Dette said that speaks to his consistency. “Even when he’s not at his best he’s still getting points,” he said. “It’s just the way he plays. He’s got great vision. He moves the puck well and obviously a really good goal tonight.”

Brad Lambert’s power play goal in the first minute of the third period completed the scoring and made a winner in net of Ratzlaff who made 19-saves, but only three in the final period. “We’re a good third period team and are really doing well at closing out games,” remarked the netminder of his 25th win. “As long as I can stay focused, stay in the game and make the saves I have to, the team is doing a really good job in front of me of shutting things down.”

Seattle has two regular season home games remaining. Tuesday, they host the Kamloops Blazers. Saturday, March 25th they once again face Portland.


Jared Davidson remains one goal shy of 100 for his WHL career and needs two goals to reach 40-goals for the second straight season.

The Thunderbirds extended their streak of games with at least one point earned to a franchise best seventeen (16-0-0-1). Seattle needs one more win at home to tie the single season record for most home wins (29), set back in the 2015-16 season.

Seattle has won the last three games against Portland, outscoring the Winterhawks in the process, 12-4.

Boxscore: WHL Network

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