KENT – The Thunderbirds returned home Friday night after a successful road trip but were done in by a seven-minute stretch of hockey.
Seattle heavily outshot the Tri-City Americans early at the Accesso ShoWare Center but couldn’t find the back of the net. That would cost them as the Americans erupted for three goals in the first seven minutes of the second period to build a 4-0 lead that the Thunderbirds couldn’t overcome as they were shut out for the first time this season.
Tri City (12-4-2-0) has not lost in regulation in 11 straight games and leaned on goalie Beck Warm along with forward Dylan Coghlan, who scored twice, to get the win. Seattle (9-6-1-1) enjoyed a 14-2 shot advantage in the game’s first 10 minutes but Warm was there to stop each attempt.
“We were buzzing and creating all kinds of chances,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “It’s one of those things where you don’t cash in on your chances, or your early power plays and that can come back to haunt you, that’s what happened.”
Warm stopped all 43 shots he saw to pick up his first career WHL shutout and improve his season record to 6-2. The Thunderbirds ended the night outshooting the Americans 43-26 but Warm was up to the task each time.
“It’s frustrating,” O’Dette said. “We’d be more worried if we weren’t getting the chances, but we’re buzzing all around the net. We’re just not finding those, bearing down and getting them in the back of the net.”
Along with all the chances, the Thunderbirds also had three power-play chances in the first period but couldn’t convert and would end up giving up a goal against the grain of play. While on a Tri-City power play, Nolan Yaremko tipped a shot past Matt Berlin at 12:56 of the first period.
Seattle would end the night 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
“I thought we got some chances,” O’Dette said of the Seattle power play. “I think what’s been working for us, teams are starting to counter a little bit. Sometimes you have to work a little bit harder to get your shots.”
Tri-City would bury the T-Birds to start the second period.
It started with Detroit Red Wings prospect Michael Rasmussen, who skated the puck around the Seattle zone, drawing in defenders. That left Carson Focht alone in front of the net and Rasmussen hit him with a pass for an easy tap-in goal at 3:49 of the period.
Rasmussen would end the night with a pair of assists for the Americans.
Less than two minutes after that goal, the Americans were attacking again and Coghlan scored after a quick passing play in the Seattle zone. It was Coghlan’s fifth of the year and made it 3-0.
Coghlan would add another at 6:59 of the second when he was alone at the side of the net and buried his second of the night to make it 4-0 for the visitors.
“We had a lapse in the second period and they got that second goal and we kind of sagged a bit for seven minutes,” O’Dette said. “We’ve been a resilient group…for whatever reason, that second goal deflated us. By the time we picked our chins back up we were down 4-0.”
Seattle got back to pushing the pace in the third period and would blitz Warm and the Americans again, outshooting them 17-4 over the final 20 minutes, but it wouldn’t prove fruitful.
The Thunderbirds won’t have long to wallow in Friday’s loss as they’ll be back in action Saturday night when they host the Kamloops Blazers at 7 P.M.
“The good news is that we’ve got 24 hours to pick ourselves up and get back at ‘er,” O’Dette said.
• Tri-City, along with Portland and Victoria, is one of the top three clubs in the Western Conference. Seattle has played those three six times and has had its share of struggles, with a 1-4-0-1 record. Against the rest of the league, the T-Birds are 8-2-1-0.
• Seattle’s 43 shots was a season high as the T-Birds continue to generate chances.
• Matt Berlin started in net for Seattle and made 22 saves on 26 shots.
• With the shut out, Seattle’s Austin Strand had his seven-game point streak snapped.