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Thunderbirds frustration high after 2-1 loss to Victoria

Victoria goalie Griffen Outhouse gets involved in a scrum during the Royals 2-1 win over the T-Birds (Jon Howe/Royals)

VICTORIA, British Columbia –  The Thunderbirds have seen enough of Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse.

The Royals goalie made 36 saves on Saturday to pick up a 2-1 win over a Seattle team that was overly frustrated. For the second game in a row, the Thunderbirds dominated the shot clock, created more chances, and pushed the pace of play but would only get one goal from Noah Philp in the loss.

Outhouse kept his club in the game with some spectacular saves for the second straight evening, but perhaps should not have been allowed to finish it.

At the start of the third period, Seattle’s Austin Strand crashed the net and made contact with Outhouse. The goalie then began throwing roundhouse punches, with his blocker on, at Strand while the Seattle defenseman was on the ice with a Victoria player on top of him. Outhouse then got up and engaged with Jarret Tyszka in the corner.

The WHL rules say that a goalie who throws punches at his opponent’s head or face with the blocker on should get a match penalty.

The officials determined that because the blows were to the body that Outhouse only deserved two minutes for roughing while Strand was given a five-minute charging and game misconduct, despite replays showing he was pushed from behind into the goalie.

“It’s pretty clear when we do our official meetings at the start of the year that any blocker attacks, which is what it was, it was about 20 shots, is a match penalty as an intent to injure,” a frustrated Matt O’Dette said afterwards. “Apparently because it’s only body shots, guy’s kidneys and stuff don’t matter. I don’t know what to say about that… You can’t get away with a two-minute minor for that, you just can’t.”

The decision by the officials would prove to be a pivotal one as on the ensuing Victoria power play, Jared Freadrich fired a shot from the point that beat Seattle goalie Dorrin Luding. The goal came at 2:49 of the third period and gave Victoria a 2-0 lead.

Not only did the call give the Victoria (18-8-1-0) the two-goal lead, but it cost Seattle (11-11-1-1) the services of Strand for the remainder of the game.

“I don’t know what Strand is supposed to do, he gets shoved into their goalie,” O’Dette said about losing his leading scorer. “He’s attacking the crease and he gets shoved in from behind. That’s not a match penalty, It’s frustrating.”

Down a pair of goals, despite heavily outshooting the Royals, the Thunderbirds would get one back at 10:38 of the third on a power play. Nolan Volcan made a nice cross-ice feed to Philp who buried his fourth of the year, to pull Seattle to within one.

That would be as close as the Thunderbirds would get however, as Outhouse continued to stymie Seattle’s shooters and would end the two-game weekend series with 79 stops.

“This weekend, our guys deserved a better fate,” O’Dette said. “We dominated that team for two games. I don’t know what they’re going to say over there, but we dominated that team for two games and they survived us, they survived us.”

O’Dette’s team ended the weekend outshooting Victoria 83-41 in the two games and played strong games for all but two minutes in Friday’s 4-3 loss.

“Our guys are warriors,” the head coach said. “It just motivates us. A lot of times we’re on the wrong side of the calls, we try to use it as fuel.”

Luding made his Seattle debut on Saturday and made 16 saves. The game got off to a rough start as he was beaten at 3:59 of the first period on a screened shot from the point by Dino Kambeitz. That was the first shot of the game for the Royals, who only managed three in the first period.

After that however, Luding settled down and made some key saves late to keep the Thunderbirds within striking distance.

“He made some big saves,” O’Dette said of Luding. “Didn’t have a ton of work but made some big saves to keep us close. It’s a positive debut.”

The Thunderbirds will regroup after a tough weekend, get on the ferry home Sunday and get ready for a busy week that will see them play four games in five nights, starting Tuesday night in Vancouver.

“The guys are frustrated,” O’Dette said. “They played their hearts out, they’re competitive and they want to win. They’re down right now but they should be proud of the effort. The effort is always there… We’re going to battle every time, no doubt about it.”

Notes

• Donovan Neuls picked up an assist on the Philp goal to extend his point streak to seven games.

• Seattle broke through on the power play Saturday but struggled overall this weekend with the man advantage. The T-Birds were 1-for-12 in the two games, and that played a huge role in the two defeats.

• The Royals held the Thunderbirds to seven shots in the third period on Saturday but it was the only period in which Seattle failed to put at least 14 shots on goal.

• Victoria star Matthew Phillips had an assist Saturday and has eight points in his last four games.