KENT – The Thunderbirds struggled Saturday night against Everett in a game where emotions and frustrations boiled over.
A week after Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette was unhappy with the officials, he became more frustrated Saturday after a non-call led directly to an Everett goal in the second period. That score tied the game at one and the Silvertips would add another to win 2-1.
“It’s frustrating to come up short,” O’Dette said. “Our guys are extremely frustrated, we never get a fair shake in these games and it’s not right.”
The controversy came at 11:35 of the second period when Everett’s Connor Dewar knocked home a puck from in front of the Seattle net to tie the game at one. Just prior to the score, Donovan Neuls had his stick snapped in half by an Everett player. There was no call and the Silvertips took the puck to the net.
“Obviously it’s a slash,” O’Dette said. “You can’t break the guy’s stick, I mean, it led to the goal. All we ask for is a fair standard and we never get it against Everett, never. Plain and (expletive) simple. I don’t know, it’s a stereotype that we’re this big, bad goon squad and they’re angels, that’s not the case.”
The Seattle coach was not pleased with the explanation he got from the officials.
“They tried to say it was a slash low on the stick, which the guy’s stick broke in half so I don’t know how that could happen,” he said of the officials. “They’re always going to cover their ass, it’s what they do.”
O’Dette wasn’t the only one who was frustrated with a game that saw Everett (41-17-2-3) get four power-play chances while Seattle was only given one.
“For some reason we don’t get calls,” Seattle captain Turner Ottenbreit said. “We work our butts off every game this year and it just seems that or some reason we don’t get the calls. You look at that goal, the first one, he just two-hands the stick in half.”
Seattle (28-24-7-2) lost it’s fourth straight game as the February struggles continue.
The Thunderbirds built a 1-0 lead Saturday after Nolan Volcan converted a centering pass from Noah Philp for his 26th of the year at 14:18 of the first period.
Despite the Seattle lead, Everett dominated the shot clock in the first two periods by out shooting the Thunderbirds 27-11. Hughes was sharp for the Thunderbirds and kept them in the game by making 37 saves on the night.
Down one, Everett tied it up on the Dewar goal which led to a lot of heated discussions as the two teams left the ice. Players and coaches from both side were seen yelling at each other. O’Dette and the Thunderbirds were upset, mostly about the calls that weren’t made.
“They’re a good team obviously,” he said. “But the thought that they don’t take any penalties is not true. The little cross checks, the little slashes. Little things like that, they get away with them, and we don’t. That’s the bottom line. Turner Ottenbreit can’t even look at a guy without getting a penalty.”
With the score tied at two, Garret Pilon would pot a goal that would turn out to be the game-winner early in the third period. He walked in front of the Seattle net, got Hughes down, and was just able to slide the puck under the goalie’s right pad.
The Thunderbirds pushed the pace the remainder of the third period and generated some chances on Everett’s Carter Hart but couldn’t solve him as he picked up his 26th win by stopping 23 shots.
“The third period I liked,” O’Dette. “We emptied the tanks there and obviously a tough scenario heading into the game, dealing with fatigue. Guy’s played to the end, which they do.”
As the rivalry between the two clubs heats up, there are still two more regular season meetings and the potential for a first-round playoff match up.
“You look at it and they’re celebrating on our ice like they just won the Stanley Cup,” Ottenbreit said. “I hope we get them in the playoffs. It’s a great rivalry and it will be fun.”
The Thunderbirds hold a tenuous lead over Kamloops for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and are struggling with eight losses in the last nine contests. They have had some hits to their depth and a schedule that has seen them face tough U.S. Division opponents.
As the losses have mounted, the frustration has as well.
“Our guys were upset and we need to use it as motivation and not a distraction,” O’Dette said. “They’re young kids who are playing extremely hard and sometimes when you feel you’re not getting a fair shake, it can be tough.”
The Thunderbirds will try to right the ship Tuesday night when they host the Vancouver Giants at the ShoWare Center.
• Seattle is now 4-3-1-0 in the 10-game season series with Everett.
• Kamloops lost in Kelowna Saturday night so the Thunderbirds maintained their six-game lead for a playoff spot.
• The two teams will see each other again Saturday night in Everett.
• After losing 11 straight games in Seattle, the Silvertips have now won two straight at the ShoWare Center.