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Third period melt down sinks Thunderbirds against Everett

Seattle goalie Matt Berlin covers the puck during the Thunderbirds 7-4 loss to Everett (Christopher Mast)

EVERETT – The Thunderbirds found their offense for two periods on Saturday night as they took on the host Everett Silvertips during the second day of the Delta Hotels Pre-season Classic at Xfinity Arena.

It would be in the third period where things broke down however, as Everett’s Connor Dewar would put the Silvertips ahead 5-4 with just over four minutes left in the game. It capped a third period comeback by Everett that erased a 4-2 Seattle lead. The Silvertips would score five goals in the game’s last 13 minutes to go on to win the game 7-4.

The Thunderbirds got goals from four different players and 27 saves from goalie Matt Berlin in the loss.

“I thought we lost some composure there,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do to finish them off. I think a lot of it was from our veteran guys there, their fourth line got a goal against our top line. That’s why we put those guys out there in d-zone situations, to stop them.”

Seattle got a look at some potential forward lines with a more veteran-laden line up on Saturday. Nolan Volcan was matched back with Donovan Neuls and Sami Moilanen, who was making his preseason debut after playing with Team Finland this summer.

O’Dette also put Elijah Brown between Luke Ormsby and Zack Andrusiak to form Seattle’s second line.

That line had a strong night as both Brown and Andrusiak each scored a goal while adding an assist.

“Brownie and I played together last year,” Andrusiak said after. “We didn’t play much but when we did I thought we had some chemistry so I was really excited to get the chance to play with him and I’m hoping we can stay together and see what comes from that.”

Despite the third-period melt down, the Thunderbirds did find their offensive game, something that was missing during Friday’s loss to the Vancouver Giants. O’Dette is looking for a strong second line and Saturday was a glimpse at what might come for Andrusiak and company.

O’Dette likes what he saw in that line, but still says there’s work to be done, which was evident by the third period struggles.

“They’ve got some speed,” O’Dette said. “They can get behind defenseman and push guys back with that speed. They’re still learning to play that 200-foot game. You need to be able to play in your own end and be responsible, they’re still learning how to do that.”

After a strong start to the first period by Seattle, the Silvertips would end up scoring first at the 10:58 mark. Going against a 7-1 shot advantage for the Thunderbirds, Everett’s Patrick Bajkov would bury a shot on the power play to give the Silvertips the lead.

In the second period Seattle would strike quickly to tie the game and take a lead of its own.

First it was Andrusiak who tipped a shot from Brown past Blake Lyda 5:43 into the second. Moilanen would give Seattle the lead 14 seconds later when Volcan found him in the slot and he rifled a shot for his first preseason tally.

Everett would get the game square however, just 25 seconds after that, when Kevin Davis found the puck during a scramble in front of Berlin and poked it in.

The game would then get chippy, with several near fights and penalties. Seattle came out of the scrums with a two-man advantage on the power play and Neuls would make the Silvertips pay at 9:13 when he banged home his first preseason goal from the side of the net.

There were a lot of penalties as bad blood seemed to carry over from the rivalry the two teams have. This early in the preseason, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I’m glad that we stuck up for each other,” O’Dette said. “That’s what you like to see early in the season but I thought we could have kept our composure a little bit more, especially with the lead.”

Seattle extended the lead 5:40 into the third when Volcan flung a puck to the goal mouth where Brown knocked it in. Volcan would end the night with two assists and it looked like the Thunderbirds were on their way to a victory.

It wouldn’t be however as with just over 12 minutes left in the third period, Everett would cut the lead to one at 4-3 when Berlin made an initial save but had the puck land behind him in the crease. Everett’s Dawson Butt was able to tap it in the goal from there.

Everett would score again to tie the game at four with just over five minutes to go in regulation when Matt Fonteyne scored on a rebound from the left of the Seattle goal.

After Dewar scored to give Everett the lead, newcomer Connor Bruce added an insurance goal for Everett when he scored from the circle. The Silvertips would add an empty-net tally from Dewar, his second of the night, to finish off the scoring.

“It’s about learning how to win games, close out games,” O’Dette said. “It’s a long way to go, we obviously have to clean up our d-zone, it’s a work in progress. We’ll assess and correct some things and look to improve tomorrow.”

Seattle will be back in action Sunday afternoon when it takes on the Spokane Chiefs at the Xfinity Arena at 3 pm.

Notes

• Everett used two goalies on the night, which is common in preseason games. Blake Lyda got the start and made 14 saves on 17 shots. He was replaced midway through the second period by Danton Belluk who stopped 13 of 14 shots.

• Berlin went the whole way for the Thunderbirds and O’Dette wasn’t sure after the game what the plan for the goalies on Sunday would be. He said that he and his coaches would assess after watching the game film.

• After going 1-for-9 on the power play against Vancouver on Friday, the Thunderbirds were 2-for-6 on Saturday. O’Dette said that the team did put in some work on the power-play unit Saturday morning after seeing how many penalties were being called in the preseason games.

• It’s a quirky streak, but going back to the Memorial Cup, the Thunderbirds have lost the last five games they’ve played.