Thunderbirds inspired by injured teammate Ethan Bear, one win away from WHL finals

Alexander True had two goals for Seattle in the victory that puts the T-birds one win away from returning to the Western Hockey League championship series.

With Ethan Bear courageously warming up even though he knew he had absolutely no chance of playing with a severely injured wrist, the Seattle Thunderbirds came out inspired.

Seattle scored the first two goals of the game to set the tone, a short-handed breakaway by Scott Eansor and then another unassisted goal by Sami Moilanen, to beat the Kelowna Rockets 5-3 on Friday night.

The win gives Seattle a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals with Game 6 scheduled for Sunday at 5:05 in Kelowna. Game 7, if necessary, will be in Kent on Tuesday.

Alexander True had two goals for Seattle, Mathew Barzal dished out three assists and Turner Ottenbreit had two assists in the victory that puts the T-birds one win away from returning to the Western Hockey League championship series.

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Bear, the talented defenseman who might well have the best one-timer in the Western Hockey League, missed Game 5 with an injured wrist and made a valiant attempt to play Friday.

It was obvious that Bear’s injury would not allow him to compete after he tried a few weak shots, but it was just as obvious his teammates appreciated his effort.

Bear was injured in Seattle’s 2-1 win in Game 3 and did not play in Kelowna’s 4-2 win in Game 4. In the playoffs, Bear has five goals and 11 assists in 11 games, 10 of them wins by Seattle.

Seattle scored first when Scott Eansor pick off a pass at mid-ice, skated in alone on Kelowna goalie Michael Herringer, deked backhand, forehand several times before sliding the puck between Kelowna goaltender Michael Herringer’s legs.

“Scotty really turned it up a notch; he played very well,” Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “They were on the power play with a chance to go up 1-0 and Scott makes a great effort to put us up by one. That was a very big part of the game.”

Seattle’s second goal was also unassisted. Moilanen intercepted a pass in the Kelowna end and used a similar move on Herringer with the same result.

There were 18 power plays in the game, a fact that made Bear’s absence even more noticeable.

“Absolutely he gave us a lift by coming out there with his teammates for the warmup,” Konowalchuk said of Bear’s warmup skate. “He really wanted to be out there. He was pushing to get out there, and we’ll see.”

Rookie goaltender Carl Stankowski ran his record to 11-1 with one overtime loss by making 37 saves on 40 shots.

“He’s not a rookie, he’s just a solid goaltender who had another really solid game,” Konowalchuk said.

The Rockets cut the lead in half with a 4-on-3 power-play goal, the eighth of the playoffs for Calvin Thurkauf.

The Rockets, the most penalized team in the playoffs coming into the series, had four power…

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