The two Ranger prospects still playing in the CHL playoffs both saw action on Friday night with their teams playing in crucial game fives. The good news is that both players saw their teams earn wins and now are one win away from meeting each other in the WHL finals.
Ryan Gropp (2015 second) wound up with the game-winning goal as his Seattle Thunderbirds behind four special teams goals defeated the Kelowna Rockets 5-3. The win gives Seattle a 3-2 lead in the WHL’s Western Conference Finals.
Gropp who has recorded points in eight of the nine games played scored Seattle’s fourth goal of the game when he beat Kelowna’s, Michael Herringer over his blocker. For Gropp, the goal was a power play goal, his second power play goal of the playoffs and fourth goal overall.
The goal was also the game-winning goal as this was a penalty filled affair with a total of 18 power plays that led to six combined power-play goals and one shorthanded goal. I reserve comment on the state of WHL officiating.
Gropp is 4-6-10 in nine games (his seventh since returning from a concussion) as Seattle is one win away from winning their second straight conference title. The series heads to Kelowna for game six on Sunday and the Thunderbirds looking to avoid a seventh game.Sergey Zborovskiy (2015 third) and his Regina Pats also moved to a 3-2 series lead after defeating the Lethbridge Hurricanes also by a 5-3 score. Zborovskiy would earn a secondary assist on an empty-net goal that clinched the win for the Pats.
Unlike the Thunderbirds/Rockets matchup, the two teams only combined for two power-play goals on six combined power plays. Zborovskiy was also a +3 with a cross-checking minor in the third period.
Zborvskiy is 0-6-6 which is a new career playoff high for the Russian-born defender and now a +18 which leads the WHL.
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