An interesting Saturday for the Ranger prospects as Ryan Gropp with two points leads his Seattle Thunderbirds to a big win over I-5 rivals the Portland Winterhawks while Tyler Wall keeps his UMass-Lowell River Hawks Hockey East Playoff hopes alive with a game two win. We are in the final two weeks of the regular season and every game counts.
Tonight’s Star: Ryan Gropp Seattle Thunderbirds
Ryan Gropp (2015 second) and his Seattle Thunderbirds were in Portland to face the Portland Winterhawks in another of the I-5 Border War. Seattle was missing several key players but Ryan had one of his better two-way performances of the year to help lead the Thunderbirds to a 6-3 win.
Gropp had a 1-1-2 evening, playing 27 shifts which included time on both special team units as well as switching from left to right wing. Gropp recorded his prospect leading 32nd goal on the power play.
With Seattle up 2-1 and Seattle on a 4-0n-3 power play, Gropp would fire a snap shot past Portland goalie Shane Farkas giving Seattle a 3-1 lead 14:56 of the second period. In the third period with the score now 3-2 and Portland on the power play, Gropp would steal the puck then lead a two-on-one odd man rush setting up Alexander True for what proved to be the game-winning goal at 48 seconds into the third period.
For Gropp, the two points improve him to a prospect leading 32-48-80 on the season, his power play goal was his prospect leading 10th of the season. The Thunderbirds hold on to the lead in the WHL’s Western Conference by one point over the Everett Silvertips.
Tyler Wall (2016 sixth) had a much better Saturday as he stopped 18 out of 19 shots to lead top-seeded UMass-Lowell to a 3-1 win over the New Hampshire Wildcats in game two of their best of three series. The win ties the best of three series at 1-1 and forces a game three on Sunday.
Wall would give up a goal on the first shot he faced Saturday but would keep the 18 remaining shots out up the net. Wall improves to 22-9-1 with 2.10 goals against and a 0.915 save percentage.
Game three with be Sunday starting at 4 PM EDT.
Sergey Zborovskiy (2015 third) was scoreless with a holding minor as his Regina Pats held off the Moose Jaw Warriors 4-3. The Pats won their fourth straight game as they try to keep the best record in the WHL as well as home ice throughout the entire WHL playoffs.
The Pats have four games remaining with a five-point lead over the Medicine Hat Tigers so the Pats need just two more points to clinch the best record in the WHL. Zborovskiy’s two PIM give him a prospect leading 62 PIMs.
Ty Ronning (2016 seventh) and his Vancouver Giants continue to find ways to lose games. Saturday night the Giants had a 3-0 lead only to watch the Kamloops Blazers score four unanswered goals and walk away with a 4-3 win.
For Ronning and his teammates, it was the eighth straight game without a win. Ronning would earn a secondary assist on the Giant’s third goal with a +1 as I do salute Ronning for as bad a team he is playing on, there remains no quit in his game. He is still giving 100% effort from start to finish.
Ronning is now 24-28-51 with a -17 and 31 PIMs.
Brad Morrison (2015 fourth) missed his seventh straight game with an ankle injury for his Prince George Cougars. The injury comes as the Cougars are in a three-team fight got for the WHL’s Western Conference top seed in the playoffs.
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