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Originally published Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Thunderbirds open arena with bang edging the Tips 4-3

After all the fireworks and festivities to celebrate the opening of the new ShoWare Center, it was the Seattle Thunderbirds who finally...

Special to The Seattle Times

KENT — After all the fireworks and festivities to celebrate the opening of the new ShoWare Center, it was the Seattle Thunderbirds who finally exploded.

The T-birds scored two goals in a span of just over two minutes in the second period and two more less than a minute apart in the third period to beat the Everett Silvertips 4-3 Saturday night.

Seattle built a 4-0 lead before Everett scored three times in the final 4:52 to make it close. Shane Harper scored the second of his two goals with 36 seconds left to cut the margin to 4-3 before Seattle held on to win.

"I'd love to have those last three goals back, but looking at the big picture, we won," Seattle goaltender Jacob DeSerres said. "That's really all that matters, and we're happy to get it. It's really fun to play in front of a crowd like we had tonight."

A standing-room-only crowd of 6,125 jammed into the new facility and had to wait through a scoreless first period before Brenden Silvester opened the scoring at 7:23 of the second period. Jeremy Boyer added a power-play goal for the T-birds at 9:33 in the period.

Greg Scott added a power-play goal at 4:26 of the third and Sena Acolatse scored again 53 seconds later for the T-birds.

Everett ended DeSerres' shutout bid with a power-play goal at 15:08 of the third period, then added a pair of goals by Shane Harper to keep the crowd in place until the final buzzer.

Harper's second goal of the game, his 16th of the season, came with 36 seconds left.

DeSerres gave the big crowd plenty of credit for the win.

"We came out all fired up and have been looking forward to this since we found out it was going to be built," DeSerres said. "We were all fired up and hitting. This is a huge win for us."

After a heavy road schedule to start the season as the ShoWare Center was completed, the T-birds (16-20-1-2) play 24 of their last 33 games at home.

"It was a really fun night," Seattle coach Rob Sumner said. "We made it a little too exciting at the end, but it was a game with a lot of finesse and a lot of emotion. We won, and that's what matters."

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The T-birds return to ShoWare Center for a game tonight against Kamloops.

"When there is this kind of enthusiasm and atmosphere, there's no such thing as being tired," Sumner said. "We were able to feed off this crowd and get a lead, and it was really a lot of fun for our team."

Everett (17-16-5-0) started goaltender Thomas Heemskerk. The Silvertips acquired Heemskerk in a trade with Kootenay, and he hadn't played since a 4-1 loss in Seattle with the Ice on Nov. 28.

The Silvertips and T-birds play 10 times this season and the season series is tied 2-2. The teams' next game is in Everett on Jan. 16.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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