By Andrew Eide
The T-Birds nightmarish road trip got worse Sunday afternoon as they were thumped by the Calgary Hitmen 10-2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary’s ten goals were scored by ten different players as they ran away from the injury laden T-Birds in a rout.
For Seattle its their fifth straight loss and ends a weekend where they were out scored 22-3 and Seattle has now been out scored 29-4 in its last four games. Sunday’s game was much of the same for Seattle — a decent start and then several breakdowns.
“I thought we started out pretty good, with a good mind set,” Steve Konowalchuk said. “Then some individual break downs and way too many odd man rushes.”
The good mind set was evident early as the T-Birds started the game generating chances on Calgary goaltender Chris Driedger. While they could not find the net they seemed to be in the game, competing with the Eastern Conference’s top club. Despite falling behind half way through the period on an Alex Roach goal, Seattle was in this one.
With three minutes left in the game things started to break down.
Calgary forced Seattle into a bad turnover right in front of the Seattle net and Chase Lang capitalized as he fired a shot passed a helpless Danny Mumaugh. Less than a minute later the Hitmen pinned Seattle in their own zone and Jake Virtanen fed the puck to Kenton Helgesen at the point. The defensemen fired a slap shot that found its way through traffic and into the net.
Just like that the T-Birds were facing a three goal deficit — despite out shooting Calgary in the period.
“We’re not as confident as we were in the past right now,” Konowalchuk said of the first period. “When we get behind its hard to bring energy, the bottom line is that we can’t give up those many odd man rushes.”
The second period brought on an onslaught of odd man rushes. It was highlited by Pavel Padakin stealing a puck while short handed and racing in alone to beat Mumaugh early in the second. A few minutes later Greg Chase cashed in on a three-on-two rush to give the Hitmen a five goal lead, and in essence ending any drama there was.
That was the end of the night for Mumaugh who was replaced by Justin Myles, who was fighting the flu. Mumaugh was asked to start all three games this weekend and while the numbers are ugly, he battled hard in all three games and probably deserved a better fate.
“I’m proud of Danny,” Konowalchuk said of his young goalie. “He battled and he had to start three-in-three because Myles has been under the weather and he battled…that’s tough for any goalie, tough for a veteran goalie and he competed and that’s all we can ask for him.”
Myles didn’t fare any better as he was scored on five times in his time on the ice as the Hitmen piled up the goals. It was the third time this season that the T-Birds have allowed ten goals in a game — the two previous times were against Portland.
The T-Birds got goals from Ryan Gropp and Calving Spencer to avoid being shut out for the second straight night.
Seattle was again without several key players Sunday which included leading scorer Branden Troock who was injured Saturday night in Edmonton. With two more games left on the road trip Konowalchuk said that they didn’t expect any of the injured players back “in the near future” so Seattle will have to continue short-handed.
There is some good news as Ethan Bear and Keegan Kolesar are both expected back when Seattle takes on Prince George on Tuesday. While they will be a welcome sight the T-Birds are still going to have to make due missing some pretty important players. The injuries have been building up over the past three weeks and Seattle has not played with a full roster since before the Christmas break.
“Its been frustrating, but I’m happy with the young guys, the way they’ve played,” Konowalchuk said. “It’s a lot of injuries, all at the same time which is rare. On top of that things are magnified by a couple guys at tournaments.”
Seattle plays Tuesday and Wednesday at Prince George before having a few days off before their next game, back at home against Spokane next Saturday.
Spencer’s third period goal was the first in his WHL career and came on a nice deflection of an Alex Delnov shot.
With the lop sided score Calgary had four players who ended the night with a plus-4 or higher rating. Conversely, Seattle had two players with a minus-5 and another with a minus-4.
The good news moving forward is that the T-Birds defensive pairings should be back together on Tuesday. Evan Wardley was back in the lineup Sunday and Bear should be back on Tuesday. That will hopefully give Seattle some consistency at the back end — something that has been sorely missing this weekend.
Seattle gave up ten goals but none were on the power play. Calgary went 0-for-6 with the man advantage on the night while Seattle was 1-for-4.
The T-Birds managed to out shoot the Hitmen 21-17 through the first two periods and still found themselves down 5-1. Calgary poured it on during the third, out shooting Seattle 17-7.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide.