By Andrew Eide
EVERETT - The T-Birds opened the Everett Silvertips Preseason Tournament with a solid 4-1 victory over the Tri City Americans on Friday afternoon. The T-Birds got goals from Michal Holub, Carter Folk, Mathew Barzal and Keegan Kolesar along with solid goal tending by Logan Flodell to pick up the win.
The two teams iced a mish-mash of rosters that included returning players along with young prospects. Still, getting a win is a good thing and can set a tone for the team.
"Its always good to win," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "We want to approach these games in a way that if you're competitive, you're competitive and you hate to lose. I thought our guys played well today."
The game started slowly as both teams seemed to be knocking off the rust of not having played a real game in months. Seattle got on the board first when Holub banged home a nice pass from Mitch Elliot and held that lead until mid-way through the second period when the Americans evened it up on a Taylor Vickerman goal.
Seattle started to take the game over, controlling the flow and got their second goal, minutes later, from the Holub-Elliot-Carter Folk line when Folk knocked home a rebound past Tri City goalie Troy Trombley.
In the third period Seattle's youth movement flexed their muscles. Mathew Barzal turned in the goal of the day after receiving a pass from Lane Pederson. He moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand and back to his forehand before roofing a shot over Trombley's shoulder. Minutes later Keegan Kolesar picked up a lose puck and fired a wrist shot from between the face off circles for Seattle's fourth goal.
"I really liked some of our young guys, they played well," Konowalchuk said. "The (Nolan)Volcan,(Kaden) Elder, (Scott) Eansor line played good smart hockey for a 17 year-old playing with two 15 year-olds. You see Kolesar, Pederson fit in with the other lines and obviously Matty Barzal is a good player too. So it was pretty good."
Scott Eansor continued to look good playing a hard skating, forechecking game for Seattle - in his first WHL game action.
"I thought it(the game) was a little bit slower because we had a pretty challenging training camp," the Colorado native said after. "With a lot of good players on our team it was hard but I think the game was pretty similar to training camp."
Seattle also got a solid performance in net by 16 year goaltender Logan Flodell - who got the start and went the distance. Flodell made 28 saves and picked up the win in his WHL debut.
"Solid game," Konowalchuk said of his young goalie. "When it was 2-1 he made a big save there. He definitely stopped what he had to, they had shots. He made a key timely save, I don't care who you're playing or when you're playing you have to get that save, and then we came right down and scored a goal."
Flodell seemed to enjoy getting on the ice for the first time.
"It was awesome," he said. "It was a great experience. I did what I had to do to help the team get the win."
The goalie competition is one of the more intriguing preseason battles for Seattle and with Danny Mumaugh still nursing an injury Konowalchuk plans on giving Justin Myles and Devon Fordyce a full game each this weekend.
Overall the coach was happy with the play of his team. He did feel that at times they were too unpredictable in their own end which led to some early turnovers, Those kinds of mistakes could have been due to some rust. Seattle gave some of their younger defenseman plenty of ice time Friday as they try to make the club.
"I think they held up and played pretty well," Konowalchuk said of the defense. "I thought Wolf was really moving the puck well, he might have been our most predictable defenseman with the puck. It's good to see him fight for more ice time here."
Seattle continues preseason play this weekend as they will take on the Victoria Royals Saturday at 3 p.m. Sunday they play the Spokane Chiefs, also at 3 p.m. Both games will be in Everett at the Comcast Arena.
There were a number of Seattle's regular players who sat this game out. This included Connor Honey, Justin Hickman, Shea Theodore, Evan Wardley, Branden Troock, Riley Sheen and Jared Hauf.
Seattle was 1-for-5 on the power play Friday but did not run out a traditional power play unit. Instead Konowalchuk continued to roll his normal lines out.
Konowalchuk said afterwards that these games are good for the younger kids as well as the veteran players. For players like Volcan and Elder it's valueable experience. For the 16 year-olds this is their shot at making the teams and even the veterans are being evaluated during these games.
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