Brian Liesse

Prospect Park: Gropp Helps Thunderbirds Grab Series Lead

In News, Prospect Park by Jess Rubenstein

Ryan Gropp (Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

It was a game played at times at an insane pace which made for a very entertaining game, In the end, Ryan Gropp helped his Seattle Thunderbirds grab a 3-2 series lead after Seattle earned a 7-4 win over the Regina Pats.

Playing for the final time in the arena he called home for four seasons and 299 regular season and playoff games, Gropp was named the game’s second star after another 1-1-2 performance. It was more than just the points as Gropp was explosive all night long.

Showing off his skating ability Gropp was on the attack for the entire game as the Thunderbirds looked to grab the lead in the WHL Championship finals. It was not easy as once again the Regina Pats would draw first blood in the game.

Regina would score twice in the first 3:17 to grab a 2-0 lead and just like game four was looking like the dominant team. What hurt the Pats was back-to-back penalties which gave Seattle power plays.

Dawson Leedahl (71) (Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

First Sergey Zborovskiy took a high-sticking minor (on Ryan Gropp) that Seattle turned into a goal at 5:09. 28 seconds later the Pats would be called for another minor which Seattle cashed in as well at 6:01 to tie the score.

Zborovskiy had a mixed game but he can say in his case it was just bad luck. The penalty he took he cannot as Gropp beat him cleanly when he spun around to escape Zborovskiy.

The rest of the night Zborovskiy was good defensively even if he did finish with a -1 and the penalty.

The two teams would go into the first intermission tied at 2-2. In the second period, Dawson Leedahl would give his Regina Pats a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal of his own. Leedahl using a nice toe drag move scored his 12th goal of the playoffs (3rd among WHL scorers) and 24th point (fifth among WHL scorers).

Seattle would tie the game and then take the lead for good as they would score four unanswered goals to grab a 6-3 lead. Ryan Gropp would first earn a secondary assist on Seattle’s fourth goal which put Seattle ahead for good.

After Seattle added another goal to make it 5-3, it was Gropp’s turn to score. Gropp would find a loose puck by the far wall on the left side and could see that Regina’s goalie Tyler Brown
was out of position.

Gropp had pretty much an empty net as Brown could not get back in time to prevent Gropp’s sixth playoff goal which tied his career best. Gropp is 6-11-17 despite missing four games due to injury.

The two teams would exchange goals to reach the final score of 7-4 as Seattle moves to 3-2 in the series which is the closest they have ever been to winning the WHL Championship in their history.

Game six will be Sunday night in Regina as the Pats find themselves trailing in a series for the third straight time. The Pats have come back each time so this series I would expect to see go seven games.

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