Thunderbirds clip first place Everett 4-3 in shootout
KENT — With the game on the line in the shootout, Keegan Kolesar was tapped to try and get the Thunderbirds two points Friday night.
He skated towards Everett goalie Mario Petit, made his move and slid the puck under Petit’s glove. With the ShoWare Center crowd waiting with baited breath, the officials made no call. It wasn’t clear if the puck got over the line or not and they had to go to video review.
“Just a little bit of a scramble,” Kolesar said. “He fell into his net and I felt like I slid it under him.”
After a lengthy video review, the referee signaled a good goal to the delight of the 4,418 in attendance. The Kolesar conversion would stand as Rylan Toth would blank all three Silvertips shooters and the T-Birds went on to win 4-3.
Seattle (20-14-3-1) picked up a big point on Everett (25-5-6-1) but could have had two as they couldn’t hold onto a 3-1 lead with 20 minutes to play. The Silvertips took advantage of two early power-play chances in the third to get the game even.
“You’re not always going to get easy games,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “Probably the worst case scenario that could happen, happened there in the third period. Couple of penalties and their power play is executing right now.”
Like they have been doing since the holiday break, the T-Birds have been resilient and overcome adversity game in and game out. Both clubs were playing without some key guys who participated in Thursday’s epic gold medal game at the World Junior Championships and the T-Birds also had to do without Scott Eansor.
Eansor was nursing the same injury that kept him out of a game last week and his absence showed on the penalty kill as all three Everett goals came with the man advantage. Despite giving up the lead, the T-Birds hung on and found a way to win their second game in a row.
“Just play,” Konowalchuk said about his team’s attitude. “Everybody out there played. Guys stepped up their game, everybody stepped up and we found a way to win the game.”
The T-Birds played their best period against the Silvertips to open the game. They got their forecheck going and created turnovers in the Everett zone.
As he did on New Year’s Eve, Luke Ormsby scored to get the T-Birds up 1-0. The play started when Anthony Bishop took a shot that Petit stopped. He couldn’t control the rebound however and Ormsby pounced on it for his second goal in as many games.
Seattle followed the goal by their fourth line with one from their third line. With the T-Birds crashing the Everett net, Zack Andrusiak was able to find the loose puck and poke it past Petit for his fifth goal of the year.
Like Ormsby, Andrusiak has scored twice in his last two games as the bottom lines continue to contribute.
“They’ve been working hard, it’s good to see them coming along,” Konowalchuk said. “It takes everybody this time of the year. If you’re in the lineup and if you’re going to win, you need everybody.”
The lead was extended early in the second period when Ryan Gropp found Donovan Neuls coming on the ice during a delayed penalty call. Neuls had room in the high slot and fired a wrist shot that found net for his ninth goal.
The Silvertips would cut the lead back to 3-1 on a Domonic Zwerger power-play goal before the second would end.
Seattle would see their two-goal lead evaporate quickly in the third period thanks to some undisciplined play. Two quick penalties to start the third period resulted in two Everett power-play goals. The first coming after Patrick Bajkov weaved through the zone in deep and found Riley Sutter alone at the side of the net.
Alexander True was penalized after the goal so Everett went right back to the power play and evened the score at three on a Matt Fonteyne one-timer at the back door.
The T-Birds penalty kill is one of the best in the league but struggled Friday night without the services of its best penalty killer in Eansor.
“His speed is big,” Konowalchuk said about Eansor. “and I think with some new defenseman we let them off the hook a little when we could have applied some pressure. Eventually teams are going to find plays if you keep giving them chances.”
The two teams played a five-minute overtime period that saw no whistles but neither club could score. That took it to the shootout where Kolesar won it.
Everett’s last shooter, Devon Skoleski, was stopped by Toth and the goalie threw his arms in the air to celebrate Seattle’s first win against their division rivals this year.
“There aren’t many games left in the season that are freebies,” Kolesar said. “We have all U.S. Division games and every point counts.”
• Mathew Barzal was not in the lineup Friday night after competing in Canada’s shootout loss to the U.S. Thursday night. Everett’s Carter Hart and Noah Juulsen also played in that game for Canada and were not in Everett’s lineup.
• The World Juniors were a topic of conversation on Friday as Canada and the U.S. played a game for the ages the night before in Montreal. Konowalchuk, who played for the U.S. in the 1992 World Championships, says he was staying loyal to his guy. “I was cheering for Mat,” he said. “I’m definitely a US guy but I’ve got to cheer for a guy on my team. He played so hard, I felt so bad for him. Almost set up the game winner and late in the game with some big blocked shots.”
•Konowalchuk said that Eansor’s injury was day-to-day and wasn’t sure if he’d play in Spokane on Sunday.
• The coach also said that he wasn’t sure if Barzal would be ready to go Sunday.