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Thunderbirds lose 5-2 to Spokane, fall to 0-3 in preseason

Seattle's Nolan Volcan is tripped and awarded a penalty shot during the T-Birds loss to Spokane Sunday (Christopher Mast)

EVERETT — For the second straight afternoon, the third period was not kind to the Seattle Tunderbirds.

The Spokane Chiefs’ two stars, Kailer Yamamoto and Jaret Anderson-Dolan both scored in the final frame to break a tie and beat the Thunderbirds 5-2 at the Delta Hotel’s Preseason Classic at Xfinity Arena. Seattle finishes the weekend with three losses and with some work to do as the preseason moves forward.

Seattle got goals from Zack Andrusiak and Aaron Hyman and while the Thunderbirds took the loss, there was some positive signs Sunday.

“I’m pretty happy with the way the guys played,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “We were exponentially better than yesterday, with a pretty young line up. I thought we worked extremely hard. We hemmed them down below the goal line for good chunks of the game, created a lot more chances than we have the previous two games.”

The young defense Seattle deployed held its own for most of the game against some of Spokane’s big guns. But an icing call seven minutes into the third period trapped two of Seattle’s younger players out which meant a faceoff in their own end against Yamamoto’s line.

It paid off for Spokane as the Chiefs crashed the net and Yamamoto would put them ahead 3-2 at the 7:25 mark when he banged a loose puck in the crease past Seattle goalie Cole Schwebius.

Schwebius entered the game midway into the second period and ended the night with 13 saves on 15 shots.

“We had a few young guys in there and that icing there we got caught with a 15 and 16-year-old defense and Yamamoto coming over the board so I’m pretty happy with the guy’s response today,” O’Dette said. “Learning how to handle situations with young guys. It’s going to take some time but I’m pretty happy with the way guys battled.”

With a one-goal lead, Spokane’s Anderson-Dolan, a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings, would make it 4-2 seven minutes later when he fired a shot through traffic.

Despite the late goals by two of the league’s top scorers, Seattle’s defense did an admiral job holding them in check. They kept the speedy Chiefs to the outside and quiet for most of the afternoon.

“I thought our veteran guys were a lot better tonight than they were yesterday,” O’Dette said. “The young guys held in there. I’m proud of what they did, you know, 15-year-old (Luke) Bateman had a nice game so there’s some good signs from our young guys.”

The Chiefs got things going early when Hayden Ostir flew down the wing and beat Matt Berlin through the five-hole with a backhanded shot at the 1:34 mark.

The Thunderbirds would tie at 4:49 when Jake Lee made a nice cross-ice pass while on the power play to Zack Andrusiak. The winger got the puck in the faceoff circle and whistled a shot past Spokane goalie Dawson Weatherill. The goal would be his second in as many nights as he continues to have a strong preseason.

The back-and-forth first period continued when Ethan McIndoe would beat Berlin through the five-hole again at 7:33 while on a delayed penalty call.

The Thunderbirds created a lot of chances and outshot the Chiefs 36-31 on the afternoon. Spokane’s goalie Weatherill robbed Sami Moilanen of a sure goal and Seattle hit a couple of posts.

“Our finish will come around,” O’Dette said. “We’re developing our offensive skills. You’d be worried if you weren’t creating those chances and we were tonight by working extremely hard.”

Both teams would trade power-play chances in the second as the game became a march to the penalty box. Just after a failed Seattle power-play chance Aaron Hyman got the game square at two when he fired a wrist shot from the point at 9:09 that found its way through traffic.

The teams started the third tied at two and after the Chiefs took the 4-2 lead, Matt Leduc would score on the empty net to seal the win for Spokane.

Seattle was winless over the weekend but the head coach felt that there were strides made and is looking forward to improving.

“Our goal today was to get better than we were yesterday,” he said. “I thought we did that and that will be the goal for next weekend as well.”

Notes

• Nolan Volcan was awarded a penalty shot in the second period after he was tripped from behind while killing a penalty. He tried to beat Weatherill with a back-handed shot through the five-hole but the Spokane goalie was able to close the pads to keep the puck out.

• Matt Berlin left the game in the second period after making 13 saves on 15 shots.

• Next weekend, the Thunderbirds will be in Tri City for two more preseason games. They will be short-handed as five players will be off at NHL development camps. That list includes Jarret Tyszka with Montreal, Nolan Volcan with Pittsburgh, Turner Ottenbreit with Anaheim, Austin Strand with Edmonton and Sami Moilanen with Colorado.

• With those players gone, the younger players on the roster will get an extended look. “We’ll have a short bench,” O’Dette said. “Especially on the back end but we get to look at these guys. It’s part of the process. They’re young guys, wearing the cages and in a couple of years they won’t be wearing the cages and the experience they get here will be invaluable.”