KENT – The Seattle Thunderbirds got a couple of reinforcements back for Friday’s preseason finale but it wasn’t enough.
Seattle played a lackluster game and were blown out 4-1 by the Victoria Royals. Jared Dmytriw led the Royals with two goals and goalie Coleman Vollrath made 28 saves to give Victoria the win.
Despite the return of Scott Eansor, Jerret Smith and Turner Ottenbreit from NHL camps the T-Birds were unable to generate any energy. From the very start of the game it was apparent that Seattle had no jump and the more veteran laden Royals took advantage.
“I thought we had a couple of vets trying to do too much and that’s counterproductive,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “Instead of keeping it simple and playing the game that there’s in front of them.”
It began with a short-handed goal by Dmytriw who blocked a slap shot at the point, collected the loose puck and was off to the races. He beat Taz Burman to give Victoria the early lead and set a tone for the night.
Victoria would strike again when Vladimir Bobylev snapped a shot from the slot that hit Burman but found its way into the net.
The T-Birds were looking for a spark between periods but any excitement they may have had in the dressing room soon dissipated as Victoria’s Brandon Phillips got behind the defense and chipped the puck over Burman to give the Royals a commanding three-goal lead.
It was a tough night as the short-handed T-Birds faced an Older Victoria squad.
“I thought a couple of our rookie guys, not all of them, but a couple were tip toeing a little bit instead of just playing,” Konowalchuk said. “It’s tough when you’ve still got a ton of guys who still aren’t here, but it’s a real good time to assess these young guys, work with them and try to improve them.”
The Royals would build a 4-0 lead on Dmytriw’s second goal of the night to put the game out of reach. Seattle got on the board early in the third period when Alexander True scored by potting a loose puck in front of the Victoria net.
Seattle ends the preseason with a three-game losing streak but all three of those games came without the majority of their key players on the ice. The team will now have a week of practice before starting things for real in Vancouver next Friday.
With the possibility of missing key players again next week, there is work to be done with the young players.
“There’s a lot to learn, a lot of technical stuff and some compete stuff at times,” Konowalchuk said. “I thought overall we had a good training camp and I like where our team is at and we’ll just go from there.”
• Donovan Neuls returned to the lineup for Seattle Friday night. He had suffered a leg injury two weeks ago in Everett and there was a worry that it was serious. Neuls is an important player for Seattle as he is versatile and brings a lot of energy. “He’s a good leader for us and plays the game the right way,” Konowalchuk said.
• Both goalies got into the game for Seattle, each playing half the game. Burman started and made 10 saves on 13 shots. Flodell came in the last half and stopped 15 shots while allowing one goal.
• Six Thunderbirds remain in NHL camps with the five drafted players with their respective teams. Jamal Watson was invited as an undrafted invite to the Montreal Canadiens.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyide.